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A Company Of Scientists: Botany, Patronage, And Community At The Seventeenth-century Parisian Royal Academy Of Sciences

by Alice Stroup

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Book Description
Who pays for science, and who profits? Historians of science and of France will discover that those were burning questions no less in the seventeenth century than they are today. Alice Stroup takes a new look at one of the earliest and most influential scientific societies, the Académie Royale des Sciences. Blending externalist and internalist approaches, Stroup portrays the Academy in its political and intellectual contexts and also takes us behind the scenes, into the laboratory and into the meetings of a lively, contentious group of investigators.
Founded in 1666 under Louis XIV, the Academy had a dual mission: to advance science and to glorify its patron. Creature of the ancien régime as well as of the scientific revolution, it depended for its professional prestige on the goodwill of monarch and ministers. One of the Academy's most ambitious projects was its illustrated encyclopedia of plants. While this work proceeded along old-fashioned descriptive lines, academicians were simultaneously adopting analogical reasoning to investigate the new anatomy and physiology of plants. Efforts to fund and forward competing lines of research were as strenuous then as now. We learn how academicians won or lost favor, and what happened when their research went wrong. Patrons and members shared in a new and different kind of enterprise that may not have resembled the Big Science of today but was nevertheless a genuine "company of scientists."

About the Author
Alice Stroup is Associate Professor of History at Bard College, Annandale, New York.



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