2010-2011 Lectures

Fall 2010


Date: Thursday, 11 November 2010, 3:30pm
Speaker: Bernard Lightman, Professor of Humanities (York University)
Location: Social Studies of Medicine Building, 3647 rue Peel (above Dr Penfield)
Title: The Creed of Victorian Science and Its Critics
Abstract:T. H. Huxley, John Tyndall and many of the other evolutionary naturalists were outsiders when they arrived on the Victorian scientific scene in the early 1850's. They had little sympathy with the Oxbridge establishment and its endorsement of natural theology. In order to win over supporters to their vision of science, they developed evolutionary naturalism into a secular creed, cunningly designed to compete with the Christian belief system. They offered a new way of looking at the world based on evolutionary theory. They argued that science not only provided useful knowledge, it also could fulfill the spiritual needs of humanity. This strategy served them well during the 1860's and 1870's, when evolutionary naturalism was in its heyday. But in 1881,in his *Creed of Science*, William Graham, philosopher and political economist, exposed the credal nature of evolutionary naturalism and subjected it to a withering critique. During the eighties a number of important critics of evolutionary naturalism followed up on Graham's approach. They argued that the evolutionary naturalists had become just as closed-minded and exclusive as their Christian opponents. This is a story about how one-time radicals become part of the establishment and how their strategy for doing so was used against them.


D. Lorne Gales Lecture in the History of Science

Date: Thursday, September 16, 6pm
Speaker: Lisa Jardine (Professor and Director, Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, Queen Mary, University of London)
Location: Maxwell Cohen Moot Court, Faculty of Law, 3644 Peel Street, McGill University
Title: Sir Hans Sloane: Science and Entrepreneurship in the Seventeenth Century

The Elizabeth McNab and D. Lorne Gales Lectures in the History of Science, supported by the Mossman foundation of McGill University, are given by leading scholars in the field of history of science and science studies. Recent lecturers have included Adrian Johns (University of Chicago), Alison Winter (University of Chicago), and Lorraine Daston (Max Planck Institute for the history of science, Berlin). Details of this year's lectures are below.