Discussing Chemistry and Steam: The Minutes of a Coffee House Philosophical Society 1780-1787

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From 1780 to 1787 a group of chemists, medics, political radicals, philosophical clergy men, industrialists, and instrument makers met in their own homes and more frequently in a series of London coffee houses, the Chapter Coffee House chief amongst these. The members served as the center of a network of scientific intelligence that spread over Europe and as far as the US. The rules and procedures of the group and the minutes of their discussions were transcribed by one member, William Nicholson.
Contemporary accounts of such philosophical societies are extremely rare and the survival of these minutes is remarkable. This book provides the first complete transcription of the minutes. In addition, the editors provide an account of the embers, including short biographies, and an introductory essay placing the minutes in their historical context. One if the main subjects of discussion, chemistry and the phlogiston theory in particular, is reviewed by Jan Golinski. A further essay from Larry Stewart puts the members and their discussions in the context of the political and revolutionary times (the period between the American War of Independence and the French Revolution). This volume gives a vivid picture of the intellectual and social life in the London of the late eighteenth century, and the close links with Europe and the US.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198515302
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 6/27/2002
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Toronto

Museum of the History of Science, Oxford

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Table of Contents

List of figures
1. Introduction, T. H. Levere
2. The Membership, G. L'E. Turner
3. The Minutes of the Society, 1780-1787
4. Conversations on Chemistry: Talk about Phlogiston in the Coffee House Society, 1780-1787, Jan Golinski
5. Putting on Airs: Science, Medicine, and Polity in the Late Eighteenth Century, Larry Stewart

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