Robert Hooke's intellectual life was steadfastly dedicated to the pursuit of natural philosophy and the formulation of an appropriate method for studying nature, His daily life, however, was seemingly fragmented—an energetic rush in and around the city of London, with him acting now as curator (and later secretary) of the Royal Society, now as Cutlerian Lecturer in the History of Nature and Art, now as Geometry Professor at Gresham College, now as architect and surveyor of postfire London, and forever as a member of a number of intersecting social, intellectual, and professional circles that made up London's coffeehouse culture. Such a range of activities was perhaps wider than that of many of his contemporaries, though other diarists, most notably Samuel Pepys, recorded similarly crammed lives. Yet despite the apparently unsystematic nature of his daily round he was, also like Pepys, a methodical man who hated to waste time, and for long periods he kept a diary that helped him account for how he spent it.
I argue here that his diary keeping was an integral part of his scientific vision reflecting the epistemological and methodological practices that guided him as a student of nature. The diary should be read, I propose, not as an “after-hours” incidental activity removed from his professional and intellectual life; both its form and its content suggest that he chose to record a self that was as subject to scientific scrutiny as the rest of nature and that he thought that such a record could be applied to producing, in the end, a fully objective “history” with himself as the datum.