Date: 11 June 2015, 18h00
Presentation: Recent work on the epistolary networks of early modern scholars has helped transform our understanding of the production and growth of knowledge during the seventeenth century, which is seen increasingly as being based on an exchange and transmission of ideas. The talk will gather together and develop some of the insights gained during the production of the edition of the correspondence of the Savilian professor of geometry and cryptographer John Wallis, one of the central figures in the early Royal Society. Alongside his mathematical and cryptographical expertise, Wallis was skilled rhetorically and he put this skill to good (and sometimes bad) use in the many scientific debates in which he was involved. This paper will take a closer look at some of the argumentative strategies Wallis employed and seek to draw conclusions from these on the nature of scientific debates involving figures similar to himself, whose primary sphere of activity was one step removed from the social immediacy of London’s scholarly communities.
Philip Beeley is research fellow in the history of science at the University of Oxford and is current president of the British Society for the History of Mathematics. He is editor of The Correspondence of John Wallis and author of numerous articles and books on early modern intellectual history. He has been associated, since its inception in 2012, with Early Modern Letters Online, the Oxford-based union catalogue and digital platform, which is reassembling correspondence networks in the Republic of Letters. [more info…]
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