Joseph Banks and the English Enlightenment: Useful Knowledge and Polite Culture

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Cambridge University Press, Dec 18, 2003 - History - 340 pages
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Joseph Banks's name is attached to various plant species around the world; he was President of the Royal Society, a Privy Councillor and adviser to the English government on a range of scientific and imperial issues. He was a driving force in the establishment of a penal colony at Botany Bay. Yet there are few monuments to him, and while he has been the subject of a number of biographies, these have been focused on his personal career rather than his relations to some of the movements of the period. This book places the work of Joseph Banks in the context of the Enlightenment. Banks's relation to major scientific and cultural currents in late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century British society is explored through a number of thematic chapters. These deal with the cultural ideal of the 'virtuoso' and the pursuit of natural history and anthropology, the practice of 'improvement' and the forces which contributed to the waning of the Enlightenment in England.
 

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Contents

JOSEPH BANKS A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
7
Personality and private life
15
THE LIMITS OF ENLIGHTENMENT
29
Enlightenment and human equaliy
37
Bankss stance towards the Established Church and its beliefs and values
41
FROM VIRTUOSO TO BOTANIST
57
The state of natural history in the mideighteenth century
73
Botany and the young Banks
83
THE PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE OF IMPROVEMENT
185
The foundation of the Board of Agriculture
188
Improvement at home and abroad
196
Improvement and industry
207
Improvement and society
224
THE WANING OF THE ENGLISH ENLIGHTENMENT
237
The Royal Society its rivals and the eclipse of the ideal of useful knowledge
249
the declining years
261

The impact of Linneaus in Britain
98
The pursuit of natural history in the late eighteenth century
107
FROM ANTIQUARIAN TO ANTHROPOLOGIST
119
The contribution of natural history and medicine to the development of anthropology
134
The exploration of the Pacific and theories of human linguistic and racial development
160
The Science of Man and nonEuropean civilisations
176
Notes
267
List of Abbreviations
293
Bibliography
295
Index
310
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