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Alchemy Tried In The Fire

Author : William R. Newman
ISBN : 9780226577029
Genre : Science
File Size : 60.12 MB
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Winner of the 2005 Pfizer Prize from the History of Science Society. What actually took place in the private laboratory of a mid-seventeenth century alchemist? How did he direct his quest after the secrets of Nature? What instruments and theoretical principles did he employ? Using, as their guide, the previously misunderstood interactions between Robert Boyle, widely known as "the father of chemistry," and George Starkey, an alchemist and the most prominent American scientific writer before Benjamin Franklin as their guide, Newman and Principe reveal the hitherto hidden laboratory operations of a famous alchemist and argue that many of the principles and practices characteristic of modern chemistry derive from alchemy. By analyzing Starkey's extraordinary laboratory notebooks, the authors show how this American "chymist" translated the wildly figurative writings of traditional alchemy into quantitative, carefully reasoned laboratory practice—and then encoded his own work in allegorical, secretive treatises under the name of Eirenaeus Philalethes. The intriguing "mystic" Joan Baptista Van Helmont—a favorite of Starkey, Boyle, and even of Lavoisier—emerges from this study as a surprisingly central figure in seventeenth-century "chymistry." A common emphasis on quantification, material production, and analysis/synthesis, the authors argue, illustrates a continuity of goals and practices from late medieval alchemy down to and beyond the Chemical Revolution. For anyone who wants to understand how alchemy was actually practiced during the Scientific Revolution and what it contributed to the development of modern chemistry, Alchemy Tried in the Fire will be a veritable philosopher's stone.
Category: Science

Gehennical Fire

Author : William R. Newman
ISBN : 0226577147
Genre : Biography & Autobiography
File Size : 88.11 MB
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Both the quest for natural knowledge and the aspiration to alchemical wisdom played crucial roles in the Scientific Revolution, as William R. Newman demonstrates in this fascinating book about George Starkey (1628-1665), America's first famous scientist. Beginning with Starkey's unusual education in colonial New England, Newman traces out his many interconnected careers—natural philosopher, alchemist, chemist, medical practitioner, economic projector, and creator of the fabulous adept, "Eirenaeus Philalethes." Newman reveals the profound impact Starkey had on the work of Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Samuel Hartlib, and other key thinkers in the realm of early modern science.
Category: Biography & Autobiography

Boyle On Fire

Author : William Eaton
ISBN : 9781847144379
Genre : Science
File Size : 31.74 MB
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The philosophy of Robert Boyle (1627-1691) is a hot topic in early modern philosophy. Boyle was at the centre of the scientific community of 17th-century England, and an accurate view of the Enlightenment scientific revolution is impossible without recognition of the contributions that he made. Work on Boyle's philosophy is also shedding light on contemporary issues in the philosophy of science - it can help us understand the nature of scientific explanation and the role that the mechanical model of explanation plays in present-day science. Boyle's mechanical philosophy ushered in a new explanatory model for science and even though his corpuscular hypothesis failed, its failure does not entail the failure of the explanatory model of which it was an instance. Boyle on Fire demonstrates these points by examining Boyle's work concerning a method of experiment common in the seventeenth century called Fire Analysis. In the Sceptical Chymist (1661), Boyle attacks elemental theories of chemical explanation primarily by raising objections against Aristotelian and Paracelsian interpretations of fire analysis. The book reconstructs Boyle's corpuscular account of fire analysis and then compares it to these objections. This process reveals those characteristics of mechanical explanations that make them epistemologically superior to elemental theories of chemical explanation, and it is these characteristics that survive the death of the corpuscular hypothesis and have become an enduring feature of the scientific enterprise.
Category: Science

Alchemical Laboratory Notebooks And Correspondence

Author : George Starkey
ISBN : 9780226577012
Genre : Biography & Autobiography
File Size : 56.65 MB
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George Starkey—chymistry tutor to Robert Boyle, author of immensely popular alchemical treatises, and probably early America's most important scientist—reveals in these pages the daily laboratory experimentation of a seventeenth-century alchemist. The editors present in this volume transcriptions of Starkey's texts, their translations, and valuable commentary for the modern reader. Dispelling the myth that alchemy was an irrational enterprise, this remarkable collection of laboratory notebooks and correspondence reveals the otherwise hidden methodologies of one of the seventeenth century's most influential alchemists.
Category: Biography & Autobiography

Fictional Matter

Author : Helen Thompson
ISBN : 9780812248722
Genre : Literary Criticism
File Size : 69.84 MB
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Fictional Matter argues that chemical definitions of particulate matter shaped eighteenth-century British science and literature. In this lucid, revisionary analysis of corpuscular science, Helen Thompson advances a new account of how the experimental production of empirical knowledge defined the emergent realist novel.
Category: Literary Criticism

Cartesian Empiricisms

Author : Mihnea Dobre
ISBN : 9789400776906
Genre : Philosophy
File Size : 88.6 MB
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Cartesian Empiricisms considers the role Cartesians played in the acceptance of experiment in natural philosophy during the seventeenth century. It aims to correct a partial image of Cartesian philosophers as paradigmatic system builders who failed to meet challenges posed by the new science’s innovative methods. Studies in this volume argue that far from being strangers to experiment, many Cartesians used and integrated it into their natural philosophies. Chapter 1 reviews the historiographies of early modern philosophy, science, and Cartesianism and their recent critiques. The first part of the volume explores various Cartesian contexts of experiment: the impact of French condemnations of Cartesian philosophy in the second half of the seventeenth century; the relation between Cartesian natural philosophy and the Parisian academies of the 1660s; the complex interplay between Cartesianism and Newtonianism in the Dutch Republic; the Cartesian influence on medical teaching at the University of Duisburg; and the challenges chemistry posed to the Cartesian theory of matter. The second part of the volume examines the work of particular Cartesians, such as Henricus Regius, Robert Desgabets, Jacques Rohault, Burchard de Volder, Antoine Le Grand, and Balthasar Bekker. Together these studies counter scientific revolution narratives that take rationalism and empiricism to be two mutually exclusive epistemological and methodological paradigms. The volume is thus a helpful instrument for anyone interested both in the histories of early modern philosophy and science, as well as for scholars interested in new evaluations of the historiographical tools that framed our traditional narratives.
Category: Philosophy

The Body As Object And Instrument Of Knowledge

Author : Charles T. Wolfe
ISBN : 9048136865
Genre : Science
File Size : 85.85 MB
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It was in 1660s England, according to the received view, in the Royal Society of London, that science acquired the form of empirical enquiry we recognize as our own: an open, collaborative experimental practice, mediated by specially-designed instruments, supported by civil discourse, stressing accuracy and replicability. Guided by the philosophy of Francis Bacon, by Protestant ideas of this worldly benevolence, by gentlemanly codes of decorum and by a dominant interest in mechanics and the mechanical structure of the universe, the members of the Royal Society created a novel experimental practice that superseded former modes of empirical inquiry, from Aristotelian observations to alchemical experimentation. This volume focuses on the development of empiricism as an interest in the body – as both the object of research and the subject of experience. Re-embodying empiricism shifts the focus of interest to the ‘life sciences’; medicine, physiology, natural history. In fact, many of the active members of the Royal Society were physicians, and a significant number of those, disciples of William Harvey and through him, inheritors of the empirical anatomy practices developed in Padua during the 16th century. Indeed, the primary research interests of the early Royal Society were concentrated on the body, human and animal, and its functions much more than on mechanics. Similarly, the Académie des Sciences directly contradicted its self-imposed mandate to investigate Nature in mechanistic fashion, devoting a significant portion of its Mémoires to questions concerning life, reproduction and monsters, consulting empirical botanists, apothecaries and chemists, and keeping closer to experience than to the Cartesian standards of well-founded knowledge. These highlighted empirical studies of the body, were central in a workshop in the beginning of 2009 organized by the unit for History and Philosophy of Science in Sydney. The papers that were presented by some of the leading figures in this area are presented in this volume.
Category: Science


Author : David Cressy
ISBN : 9780199695751
Genre : History
File Size : 55.46 MB
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The story of the science, the technology, the politics and the military applications of saltpeter - the vital but mysterious substance that governments from the Tudors to the Victorians regarded as an 'inestimable treasure'.
Category: History

The Secrets Of Alchemy

Author : Lawrence Principe
ISBN : 9780226682952
Genre : History
File Size : 32.22 MB
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An accessible history of alchemy by a leading world authority explores its development and relationship with myriad disciplines and pursuits, tracing its heyday in early modern Europe while profiling some of history's most colorful alchemists and describing the author's recreation of famous alchemy recipes.
Category: History