P. Fontes da Costa, The Singular and the Making of Knowledge at the Royal Society of London in the Eighteenth Century, Newcastle: Cambrige Scholars Publishing, 2009.
The central subject of this book is the status of singular experiences in the making of natural knowledge at the Royal Society of London in the eighteenth century. It makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the importance of the reporting and display of extraordinary phenomena at the Royal Society in this period, and shows that the success of these practices was largely based on their multiple roles within the Society, where singular experiences not only promoted natural historical and medical knowledge but also played a social and epistemological role. However, singular experiences were problematic in terms of authentication and the book reveals how eighteenth-century literary satires made the Royal Society an easy and favoured target for their interest in them. The book demonstrates the variety and intricacy of elements involved in the making and circulation of natural knowledge in the period. It provides an interdisciplinary and innovative approach to the place of the singular in one of the oldest and most import scientific institutions in the world.
…comprehensively researched book which constitutes a useful addition to the still scant literature on the Royal Society in the Eighteenth Century…written with authority, and with an eye to the major debates about the character of the Royal Society. At last the life of that institution in the Eighteenth Century is starting to emerge from the shadows to which it has long be consigned.
John Gascoigne, British Journal for the History of Science, 43 (2010): 124-125.
Review by John Gascoigne, British Journal for the History of Science, 43 (2010): 124-125.
Review by David Philip Miller, Annals of Science, 68 (2011): 563-565.