Robert Jameson, geology and polite culture, 1796-1826: natural knowledge enquiry and civic sensibility in late Enlightenment Scotland
Hartley, Stuart David
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The central figure in this thesis is Robert Jameson (1774-1854), geologist, mineralogist and Professor of Natural History at the University of Edinburgh. Jameson's geological work is examined in relation to the social and intellectual interests of contemporary civil society, and in particular, in terms of the debates in Edinburgh between Huttonians and Wernerians (of which group Jameson was one) concerning the nature of geological evidence and of theory in geological explanation. This thesis is also concerned to bring into sharper focus the state of, and public interest in, the earth sciences in Scotland in the first two decades of the nineteenth century. In this regard, analysis centres upon the conceptual basis and scientific methods behind Jameson's work and upon the making of natural knowledge as a situated intellectual and social concern. The thesis has eight chapters. Following an introduction and literature review they are, respectively, concerned with showing that in societies, teaching, museology, fieldwork, laboratories and through publications, Jameson's scientific 'methodology' conformed in large part to the Baconian taxonomic and descriptive elements of Wernerianism. This thesis also suggests that scholars have hitherto misrepresented and overplayed the 'theoretical' nature of Jameson's work, and in so doing, have only characterised the debate between Huttonians and Wemerians as a conflict between rival theories. In re-examining the several activities and the conduct of Huttonians and Wernerians (in this case Jameson) in a variety of settings, a rather different understanding of the nature of debate is here advanced. Specifically, it is shown that rivalry between Huttonians and Wernerians in the sites stated above might be better understood not in terms of two opposing theories, but, rather, as a rivalry between a vigorously held theory on the one hand (proponents of Huttonianism) and, on the other, a conviction about the prematurity of theory and importance of a Baconian empirical approach. The thesis also suggests that understanding the intellectual contexts to such geological enquiry depends importantly upon knowing something of the social and civic nature of scientific 'ownership', institutional authority, personal reputation and the proprietorial control of local scientific knowledge.