Discovering Water: James Watt, Henry Cavendish, and the Nineteenth Century 'Water Controversy'
Discovering Water addresses why the rival claims of long dead natural philosophers so preoccupied a wide range of people in the mid-nineteenth century. The answer to the question 'who was responsible for discovering water was a compound, not an element?' as David Philip Miller demonstrates, lies in understanding the enormous symbolic importance of James Watt and Henry Cavendish in nineteenth-century science and society.More than credit for a particular discovery was at stake here. The varied agendas of the participants in the Victorian water controversy led it to be driven by filial loyalty and nationalism but also, most importantly, by ideological struggles about the nature of science and its relation to technological invention and innovation in British society.At a more general and theoretical level, Discovering Water also provides important insights into conceptions of the nature of discovery as they are debated by modern historians, philosophers and sociologists of science.
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