THE WALL STREET JOURNAL reviews THE PHILOSOPHICAL BREAKFAST CLUB

Today’s Wall Street Journal says, “Ms. Snyder…shows a full command of the scientific, social and cultural dimensions of the age. In Ms. Snyder’s telling, the lives and ideas of these men come across as fit for ‘Masterpiece Theater.'”

Read the full review here.

In the last lines of a very postive assessment of the book, the reviewer, a physicist, takes issue with two paragraphs in my Epilogue, where I suggest that as a result of the professionalization and specialization in the sciences brought about by the members of the philosophical breakfast club, there arose a greater divide between science and the rest of culture. I claim that scientists today are less able to “express that wonder [in the natural world] to others, even non-specialists” than people like Herschel and Whewell, who wrote important books about science aimed at a general literate audience, in addition to writing and translating poetry about nature.

That still seems obvious to me. Writers of successful popular books who are practicing professional scientists, like Brian Greene, are few and far between. I’d love to hear from other readers of the book on this topic!

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About the Author











Laura J. Snyder, Ph.D., is a science historian, philosopher and writer whose most recent book, The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four Remarkable Friends who Transformed Science and Changed the World, was an Official Selection of the TED Book Club, a Scientific American Notable Book, and winner of the 2011 Royal Institution of Australia Poll for Favorite Science Book. It was also named an "Outstanding Academic Title" in history of science and technology by the American Library Association. Snyder is Professor of Philosophy at St. John's University in New York City and writes frequently about science and ideas for The Wall Street Journal. She is a Fulbright Scholar, a Life Member of Clare Hall College, Cambridge, and Past President of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science.

 She is currently working on a book about how new optical technologies in the 17th century revolutionized not only science, but also art and the rest of culture. Follow Laura Snyder on Twitter and Facebook.

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