Though the 19th was one of the most imaginative and experimental decades, the 18th century saw the beginnings of a more rational and scientific world view. In many ways it was not a bad century, but it was, even then, still noteworthy that the great majority of people were living under a monarch.
Wilson, Robert K. (1950). The Insects of the Freshwater Valley of the United States Presented for the Study of the Biology and Distribution of the Important Species. The Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 59: 363–443. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7066381 .
Antoine-François de Fourcroy (1755–1809) was a French naturalist, botanist and physician who, in his own words, helped to ‘free science from superstitions’. Fourcroy sought to begin a science that was negative in that it sought to penetrate the secrets of nature by the methods of mechanical philosophy. He quotes the great German philosopher, Leibniz, who said that discovering the laws of nature was an illusion, in as much as our perceptions of phenomena depended on our sense organs. These were not perfect; they could not record the whole of nature, and were limited by the impossibility of our understanding it completely. The view of nature as an ordered mechanism was, in the opinion of Fourcroy, nothing but a clever fiction contrived by society: it created an artificial order, an appearance specifically adapted to the people who made it, or in the words of Fourcroy, a ‘happy deception’ (Tinker 1974, 13).
The first English edition of Fourcroy’s Musée des Insectes [en: Museum of Insects] was published in 1797, with a preface by the philosopher George Tierney. It was immensely popular in Europe and made Fourcroy into a leading figure in natural history. d2c66b5586