My main intellectual concern is the place of sensory experience – especially its pleasures and pains – in the production of knowledge. I explore this theme in both my research and teaching. In addition, I am committed to discussing the place of the feelings and emotions in our experiences of the arts and sciences with broader audiences, whether through writing, podcasts, or film.
My first book, Aesthetic Science: Representing Nature in the Royal Society of London, 1650-1720, will shortly be published by the University of Chicago Press. The scientists affiliated to the seventeenth-century Royal Society of London have long been regarded as forerunners of modern empiricism. Aesthetic Science challenges this interpretation, demonstrating that judgments of taste and the pleasures of aesthetic experience had a central role in the emergence of what we now understand as scientific objectivity. Aesthetic Science thus shows that the histories of science and aesthetics – understood as the attempt to understand sensory experience – were far more closely intertwined than has so far been recognized. In addition, the book argues that the theory and practices of aesthetic experience are crucial tools for helping us to understand and interpret scientific intersubjectivity.
I hold a PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge. Before coming to NYU, I taught at the University of Oxford and University College London. Additionally, I held a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellowship at University College London, and a postdoctoral fellowship jointly at the California Institute of Technology and The Huntington Library.