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Volta:
Science and Culture in the Age of Enlightenment
Giuliano Pancaldi

Book Description | Reviews
Introduction [HTML] or [PDF format]

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Illustrations xi
Acknowledgments xiii
Abbreviations xvii
Introduction 1
Chapter 1
THE MAKING OF A NATURAL PHILOSOPHER
From Amateur, to Expert, to Public Servant 7
The Town 9
The Family 12
Lifestyle 14
Education 15
"A More Enlightened Age" 19
Literary Interests 21
Views on Religion and Secularization 22
From Amateur, to Expert, to Public Servant 27
Emotional Life 33
Investigative Style 39
Conclusion 41
Chapter 2
ENLIGHTENMENT SCIENCE SOUTH OF THE ALPS
The Italian Scientific Community in the Age of Volta 44
The Soil and the Institutions 48
The Scholars: Provenance and Fields of Interest 52
Prosopography 56
The Circulation of Enlightenment Literature 62
Views from the Outside 65
Conclusion 70
Chapter 3
THE ELECTROPHORUS
Theory, Instrument Design, and the Social Uses of Scientific Apparatus 73
Fire, Magnetism, Electricity 76
"Vindicating Electricity" 83
Attraction and the Atmospheres 86
Disenchanted Theorist 90
Scientific Instruments and Their Social Uses 91
The Path to the Electrophorus 95
Instrument Design 100
Publicizing Discovery 104
Conclusion 108
Chapter 4
VOLTA'S SCIENCE OF ELECTRICITY
Conception, Laboratory Work, and Public Recognition 110
Reluctant Theorist 110
Midrange Conceptualization and a New Machine: Capacity, Tension, "Actuation," and the Condensatore 112
Natural Philosopher or Inventor of Amusements Électriques? 121
Explanatory Models and Presentation Strategies: True Causes vs. Instrumentalism 125
Volta's Laboratory: Measuring Electricity 129
Volta on Coulomb 137
Conclusion 141
Chapter 5
THE COSMOPOLITAN NETWORK
Volta and Communication among Experts in Late Enlightenment Europe 146
Overcoming Isolation 149
Exploring the Republic of Letters: The Neighborhoods 153
Facing the Peers: Paris in 1782 156
Anglophilia 160
Continental Europe and the German-Speaking Countries 164
After 1789 168
Conclusion 172
Chapter 6
THE BATTERY
Invention, Instrumentalism, and Competitive Imitation 178
Galvanism, Electrometer in Hand 179
The Hunt for Weak Electricity 186
The Electricity of Animals 190
Nicholson's Contribution to Volta's Discovery 196
Building the Battery 202
Conclusion: Invention, Instrumentalism, and Competitive Imitation 207
Chapter 7
APPROPRIATING INVENTION
The Reception of the Voltaic Battery in Europe 211
Spreading the News 212
Replicating the Instrument 221
Appropriating the Battery 224
A Name for All Purposes 246
From Philosophic Instrument to Patented Device 248
Conclusion 250
Chapter 8
THE SCIENTIST AS HERO
Volta and the Uses of Past Science in the Industrial Era 257
Admitted to "Galileo's Tribune" 258
Secular Saint in the Positivist Calendar 259
"The Triumph of Science" 261
In the Nobel Laureates' Era 263
Conclusion 270
Chapter 9
CONCLUSION: SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND CONTINGENCY
Enlightenment Legacies 273
Invention 273
"Useful Knowledge" and Unintended Consequences 275
"The Quantifying Spirit" 278
Investment 279
Value Assessments 280
Contingency 283
Enlightenment Legacies 286
Notes 291
Bibliography 337
Index 367

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File created: 4/17/2014

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