Atoms and Alchemy: Chymistry and the Experimental Origins of the Scientific Revolution
  • Atoms and Alchemy: Chymistry and the Experimental Origins of the Scientific Revolution
  • Atoms and Alchemy: Chymistry and the Experimental Origins of the Scientific Revolution

Atoms and Alchemy: Chymistry and the Experimental Origins of the Scientific Revolution

by William R. Newman
     
 

Since the Enlightenment, alchemy has been viewed as a sort of antiscience, disparaged by many historians as a form of lunacy that impeded the development of rational chemistry. But in Atoms and Alchemy, William R. Newman—a historian widely credited for reviving recent interest in alchemy—exposes the speciousness of these views and challenges

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Overview

Since the Enlightenment, alchemy has been viewed as a sort of antiscience, disparaged by many historians as a form of lunacy that impeded the development of rational chemistry. But in Atoms and Alchemy, William R. Newman—a historian widely credited for reviving recent interest in alchemy—exposes the speciousness of these views and challenges widely held beliefs about the origins of the Scientific Revolution. 

Tracing the alchemical roots of Robert Boyle’s famous mechanical philosophy, Newman shows that alchemy contributed to the mechanization of nature, a movement that lay at the very heart of scientific discovery. Boyle and his predecessors—figures like the mysterious medieval Geber or the Lutheran professor Daniel Sennert—provided convincing experimental proof that matter is made up of enduring particles at the microlevel. At the same time, Newman argues that alchemists created the operational criterion of an “atomic” element as the last point of analysis, thereby contributing a key feature to the development of later chemistry.  Atomsand Alchemy thus provokes a refreshing debate about the origins of modern science and will be welcomed—and deliberated—by all who are interested in the development of scientific theory and practice.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226576978
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
05/15/2006
Series:
Morality and Society Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
250
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
A Note on Terminology

Introduction: The Problematic Position of Alchemy in the Scientific Revolution

One - The Mise en Scène before Sennert
1. The Medieval Tradition of Alchemical Corpuscular Theory
2. Erastus and the Critique of Chymical Analysis
3. Aristotelian Corpuscular Theory and Andreas Libavius

Two - Daniel Sennert's Atomism and the Reform of Aristotelian Matter Theory
4. The Corpuscular Theory of Daniel Sennert and Its Sources
5. The Interplay of Structure and Essence in Sennert's Corpuscular Theory

Three - Robert Boyle's Matter Theory
6. Boyle, Sennert, and the Mechanical Philosophy
7. Boyle's Use of Chymical Corpuscles and the Reduction to the Pristine State to Demonstrate the Mechanical Origin of Qualities

A Concise Conclusion
Bibliography
Index

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