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In his accessible and absorbing book, [Moran] explores the intellectual framework of alchemy and seeks to identify the extent to which alchemy was a science and how it contributed positively to the scientific revolution...I can recommend this elegant book without hesitation to anyone who wishes to understand the practices and motivations of the alchemists as they sank over the horizon in the 16th and 17th centuries and the true chemists rose to take their place.
— Peter Atkins
I used to direct students looking for an introduction to the history of alchemy to Betty J. Teeter Dobbs's The Foundations of Newton's Alchemy: Or, The Hunting of the Greene Lyon...Now I will direct my students, and anyone else who asks me what alchemy is, to Bruce T. Moran's book. This compact volume provides a full and nuanced account of the history of alchemy from the medieval traditions of distillation to the Enlightenment definition of the discipline of chemistry...Precise, but never narrow, its scope includes artisanal knowledge and matter theory, and also encompasses medical and magical ideas and practices. This book is indispensable for anyone who studies or teaches the histories of early modern science and medicine.
— Lauren Kassell
Bruce T. Moran's Distilling Knowledge is an excellent short survey of its topic, and as such it superbly fills a real gap in the existing literature.
— John Henry
In spite of the wealth of scholarship which informs the specialist, it still comes as a surprise to those not in the field of history that the pre-Enlightenment world was not enslaved by “irrational superstition” and that there is a reasonable and organic relationship between what is today regarded as “science” and many things which we have, however incorrectly, discarded as “pseudo-science.” Public Broadcasting specials no less than their cable counterparts leave most of the whiggish assumptions of the audience intact when they claim to present the “real story” behind Galileo, Newton, or the other “big names” of the Scientific Revolution. Those wishing to bridge the gap which separates the historian of science from popular assumptions about the history of science have faced the problem that there are few tools with which to accomplish this task. Books which are both accessible to a general audience and accurate are hard to find. Bruce Moran has written one, and it is a welcome addition to the classroom and the shelf. Distilling Knowledge is written by an established scholar in a plain and engaging style that keeps the reader’s attention. This book has an obvious application in survey courses in the history of science, but it is also an excellent book to recommend to the casual reader or the colleague across campus in the hard sciences who would like to know more about the history of science.
— Steven Matthews
|2||"That pleasing novelty" : alchemy in artisan and daily life||37|
|3||Paracelsus and the "Paracelsians" : natural relationships and separation as creation||67|
|4||Sites of learning and the language of chemistry||99|
|5||Alchemy, chemistry, and the technology of knowing||132|
|6||The reality of relationship||157|
|Conclusion : varieties of experience in reading the book of nature||182|