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The Penultimate CuriosityHow Science Swims in the Slipstream of Ultimate Questions$
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Roger Wagner and Andrew Briggs

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198747956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198747956.001.0001

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The Oxonian Sparkles

The Oxonian Sparkles

(p.240) Chapter Thirty The Oxonian Sparkles
The Penultimate Curiosity

Roger Wagner

Andrew Briggs

Oxford University Press

This chapter first describes the Oxford club which later metamorphosed into the Royal Society. The club was founded by a young Puritan clergyman named John Wilkins, who in 1648 was made Warden of Wadham College. A year after his appointment, Wilkins founded ‘an experimentall philosophicall clubbe’ which met weekly in his rooms. The chapter also discusses how the acceptance or rejection of Aristotle’s principle that ‘nature abhors a vacuum’ became a means of showing how a well-designed experiment could solve a philosophical dispute; the experiments of Robert Boyle; the Royal Society’s commissioning of clergyman Thomas Sprat to write a history of its origin and purpose; and the deployment of the study of nature as a means of marginalizing religious concerns.

Keywords:   Oxford club, John Wilkins, Wadham College, Robert Boyle, Aristotle, Royal Society, Thomas Sprat

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