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The Visionary Science of Humphry Davy’s Consolations in Travel

Thursday Lecture Series, Hide and Seek

dateApril 12, 2012 timeThursday, 12:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Columbia University

Written during visits to Italy and the eastern Alps, between bouts of illness and fly-fishing, Consolations in Travel, or the Last Days of a Philosopher, was published posthumously in 1830, and was widely discussed and frequently reprinted throughout the nineteenth century. In a period when most scientific practice focused on detailed analysis and observation in the museum, field and laboratory, Consolation’s dialogue format and visionary use of fact offered resources for imaginative speculation on the widest questions of philosophy, belief and utility. In his talk, Professor Secord explored the text, the ambitions of its author, Humphrey Davy, and the significance of the work to a generation of scientists.