Radley College has been fortunate enough to borrow the
First Edition of ‘Leviathan’ by Thomas Hobbes and some of Robert Boyle’s first
air pump tracts from the New College, Oxford Library. They are on display in
the Library under safekeeping.
On Wednesday 2nd March the Library had the
highly-esteemed Dr William Poole of New College visiting to speak on these two
works that transformed England at that time. ‘Leviathan’ was published in 1651
and analyses the English Civil War, society and the Monarchy which were all of
great importance at the time. Boyle’s collections of air pump tracts were
performed and recorded two decades later; it was the first air pump ever made.
Dr Poole spoke fluently on how much of history and science is combined. He said
that history, much like science, is mostly about arguments and people who have
more ‘correct’ ideas.
Hobbes (1588-1679) was a leading political theorist and an
ultra-monarchist. He stated that one had to start at the basic level in order
to create a political science. Hobbes was a key figure during the English Civil
War, but in the 1640s fled to France in fear of his life. He returned to
England once order had been restored.
Boyle (1627-1691) was born into riches and was a leading
scientist of the time. He spent his time during the war in Ireland and made
visits to Oxford. Boyle and Hobbes had vastly conflicting views, but had a
connection towards each other. Both of their books were philosophically opposed
and they disagreed on the states of matter and the atom. Hobbes, who believed
in materialism and the monarchy, conflicted with Boyle, who was more of a
religious man who had a worldly view.
The talk was rounded off with lots of questions; it was a
testimony to how interesting the talk was.
Many thanks must go to New College Library, Dr Poole and the
Physics Department for arranging such a splendid talk.
Report by James Gosling,
A Social 6.1