Brown Bag Lecture: The Cosmology of Blood and Air: Stephen Hales and Providential Improvement

Lunchtime Lectures
Monday, December 4, 2017
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Chemical Heritage Foundation
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
United States

Join us for a Brown Bag Lecture by Paul Sampson, a 2017 Ullyot Fellow at the Institute.

The clergyman and experimentalist Stephen Hales (1677−1761) is best known for his work on circulation and respiration in plants and animals. However, for the last 20 years of his life he demonstrated a consistent investment in projects that sought to use his theoretical understanding of circulation to improve health, especially for long-distance seafarers. I argue that Hales’s desire to employ the means of nature to promote the ends of man reveals several assumptions that undergirded public science in the early 18th century. Exploring these assumptions enables us to ask the following: How did devout natural philosophers understand their role as providential improvers of the natural order? And how did they envision their work in relation to Britain’s thriving global trade and growing empire?

About the Speaker

Paul Sampson is a doctoral student in the history of science at Rutgers University. His research focuses on improvement, cosmology, and global trade in early modern Britain and the Atlantic world. He received his BA in history from the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas, in 2011 and his MA in early modern European and early American history from Marquette University in 2015. He is a 2017 Ullyot Fellow at the Institute.

About the Series

Brown Bag Lectures (BBLs) are a series of (mostly) weekly, informal talks on the history of chemistry or related subjects, including the history and social studies of science, technology, and medicine. Based on original research (sometimes still in progress), these talks are given by local scholars for an audience of the Institute staff and fellows and interested members of the public.