Chymistry and Natural Philosophy Follow-Up

At my blog Ether Wave Propaganda, I posted in May on an ongoing dispute between Indiana historian Bill Newman and Flinders U. philosopher Alan Chalmers over the “chymistry” of Robert Boyle (1627-1691) and its relationship to his vision of experimental philosophy.  These were well-read at the time — by EWP’s standards anyway — and may be of interest to some new readers in this venue.  See Part 1 (on my non-expert outsider’s perception of the historical relationship between natural philosophy and early modern chymistry) and Part 2 (which examines the dispute’s contours in terms of conflicts between a demarcationist philosopher’s perspective versus the intellectual historian’s; it also suggests many historians who do not attend to the particulars of intellectual history unwittingly replicate a philosophical empiricist’s position, possibly more on which anon).

Those interested in the early modern relationship between chymistry and natural philosophy will be interested in Cassino historian Antonio Clericuzio’s new article in Science in Context, “‘Sooty Empiricks’ and Natural Philosophers: The Status of Chemistry in the Seventeenth Century” (paywall protected).  I have not yet had a chance to peruse it, but will offer impressions when opportunity permits.


About Will Thomas

Will Thomas is a junior research fellow at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine at Imperial College London. He is originally from Minnesota, and received his PhD in the History of Science from Harvard University in 2007. From 2007 to 2010 he was a post-doctoral historian at the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics near Washington, DC. There he developed the Array of Contemporary American Physicists resource. His primary interests are in 20th-century America and Britain, and in the histories of physics and the sciences of policy analysis. He maintains the blog Ether Wave Propaganda, usually posting about the problems of maintaining a constructive historiography, and about argumentative systems in all eras.
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3 Responses to Chymistry and Natural Philosophy Follow-Up

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Chymistry and Natural Philosophy Follow-Up « Whewell's Ghost --

  2. Thony C. says:

    Thanks for the Clericuzio reference Will; I have just finished reading his article and am very impressed with his analysis of the development of the status of chemistry in the 17th century. He very much disagrees with Chalmers who he sees as attributing to Boyle a viewpoint that he didn’t have.

  3. Will Thomas says:

    For the record, I have at last gotten around to posting my thoughts on Clericuzio’s article here.

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