Swedenborg’s Lunars | Swedenborg Birthday Lecture 2015
Professor Simon Schaffer
Saturday 24 January 2015 | Swedenborg Hall, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH | Doors open and refreshments from 4.00 pm | Lecture starts at 4.30 pm.
FREE ADMISSION, BUT BOOK IN ADVANCE!
Although not widely known, Swedenborg spent many years trying to establish a reliable method for the determination of longitude at sea. His first method was developed in London in 1710-12, and he made various versions throughout his career. In 1766, at the age of 78, he presented his final scheme to the Board of Longitude in London. The rich archive of Swedenborg’s career allows for an unusually detailed study of his longitude project. In fact it is better documented than many of his contemporaries.
In this talk Professor Simon Schaffer will use Swedenborg’s longitude work to illuminate key aspects of Swedenborg’s wider enterprises. These enterprises include: 1. Swedenborg’s scheme to set up an astronomical observatory in southern Sweden (devoted to lunar and stellar observation); 2. Swedenborg’s complex attitude to astronomical and magnetic cosmology; and 3. Swedenborg’s attempt to fit the notion of longitude into his visionary world view. It emerges that Swedenborg’s longitude method owed much to earlier Baroque and Jesuit natural philosophy, while his mature cosmology sought a rational and enlightened model of the universe.
Simon Schaffer is Professor of History of Science at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of the British Academy. Since 2010 he has been principal investigator on a project funded by AHRC in partnership with the National Maritime Museum to study the history of the Board of Longitude. In 2013 he wrote and presented a documentary film for BBC4 on the history of automata. In spring 2015 he is a visiting professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris.
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