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The Aspiring Adept: Robert Boyle and His Alchemical Quest
     

The Aspiring Adept: Robert Boyle and His Alchemical Quest

by Lawrence Principe
 

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ISBN-10: 0691050821

ISBN-13: 9780691050829

Pub. Date: 09/18/2000

Publisher: Princeton University Press

The Aspiring Adept presents a provocative new view of Robert Boyle (1627-1691), one of the leading figures of the Scientific Revolution, by revealing for the first time his avid and lifelong pursuit of alchemy. Boyle has traditionally been considered, along with Newton, a founder of modern science because of his mechanical philosophy and his experimentation

Overview

The Aspiring Adept presents a provocative new view of Robert Boyle (1627-1691), one of the leading figures of the Scientific Revolution, by revealing for the first time his avid and lifelong pursuit of alchemy. Boyle has traditionally been considered, along with Newton, a founder of modern science because of his mechanical philosophy and his experimentation with the air-pump and other early scientific apparatus. However, Lawrence Principe shows that his alchemical quest—hidden first by Boyle's own codes and secrecy, and later suppressed or ignored—positions him more accurately in the intellectual and cultural crossroads of the seventeenth century.

Principe radically reinterprets Boyle's most famous work, The Sceptical Chymist, to show that it criticizes not alchemists, as has been thought, but "unphilosophical" pharmacists and textbook writers. He then shows Boyle's unambiguous enthusiasm for alchemy in his "lost" Dialogue on the Transmutation and Melioration of Metals, now reconstructed from scattered fragments and presented here in full for the first time. Intriguingly, Boyle believed that the goal of his quest, the Philosopher's Stone, could not only transmute base metals into gold, but could also attract angels. Alchemy could thus act both as a source of knowledge and as a defense against the growing tide of atheism that tormented him. In seeking to integrate the seemingly contradictory facets of Boyle's work, Principe also illuminates how alchemy and other "unscientific" pursuits had a far greater impact on early modern science than has previously been thought.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691050829
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
09/18/2000
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
340
Product dimensions:
6.16(w) x 9.27(h) x 0.86(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Note on Primary Sources
Abbreviations
Introduction
Alchemy and Chemistry: A Crucial Note on Terminology and Categories
Ch. IBoyle Spagyricized
Ch. IISkeptical of the Sceptical Chymist
Ch. IIIThe Dialogue on Transmutation, Kinds of Transmutations, and Boyle's Beliefs
Ch. IVAdepti, Aspirants, and Cheats
Ch. VBoyle and Alchemical Practice
Ch. VIMotivations: Truth, Medicine, and Religion
Epilogue: A New Boyle and a New Alchemy
App. 1Robert Boyle's Dialogue on the Transmutation and Melioration of Metals
App. 2Interview Accounts of Transmutation and Prefaces to Boyle's Other Chrysopoetic Writings
App. 3Dialogue on the Converse with Angels Aided by the Philosophers' Stone
Works Cited
Index

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