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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: October 2020

Chapter 4 - ‘Those Fruits of Natural knowledge’


This chapter investigates taste’s paramount importance to the production and legitimisation of experimental knowledge by early Royal Society members, including Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke, and Nehemiah Grew. Early scientists attempted to classify the properties of substances by reference to their flavours; in so doing, they aimed to develop medicines and technologies that could return humankind to prelapsarian felicity. Their efforts chime with Royal Society propaganda, which depicts taxonomical tasting as an inversion of Adam and Eve’s catastrophic gustation. Research into taste as a physiological process, however, presented gustation as subjective, disrupting the link between taste and objective knowledge that undergirded this rhetoric.

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