*The Philosophical Breakfast Club*

The author is Laura J. Snyder and the subtitle is Four Remarkable Friends Who Transformed Science and Changed the World.  This is an excellent book about the history and status of science in 19th century England and in particular the contributions of Charles Babbage, John Herschel, William Whewell, and Richard Jones, the latter an economist and of course Whewell debated induction and scientific method with Mill.  Babbage too had writings on economics.  Here is an excerpt from Snyder:

De Prony had been commissioned to produce a definitive test of logarithmic and trigonometric tables for the newly introduced metric system in France, to facilitate the accurate measurement of property as a basis for taxation.

De Prony had recently read Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations…Smith discussed the importance of a division of labor in the manufacture of pins…

De Prony was the first to see that a Smithian division of intellectual labor could be equally valuable in the work of computation of mathematical tables — although his idea had been anticipated by Leibniz, who believed that talented mathematicians should be freed from tedious calculations that could be done by "peasants."

If you enjoy the history of science, this book stands a good chance of being the best one in that genre to come out this year.  Here is one good review of the book.


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