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Atoms And Alchemy

Author: William R. Newman
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226576973
Size: 19.83 MB
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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.

Promethean Ambitions

Author: William R. Newman
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226575241
Size: 24.65 MB
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In an age when the nature of reality is complicated daily by advances in bioengineering, cloning, and artificial intelligence, it is easy to forget that the ever-evolving boundary between nature and technology has long been a source of ethical and scientific concern: modern anxieties about the possibility of artificial life and the dangers of tinkering with nature more generally were shared by opponents of alchemy long before genetic science delivered us a cloned sheep named Dolly. In Promethean Ambitions, William R. Newman ambitiously uses alchemy to investigate the thinning boundary between the natural and the artificial. Focusing primarily on the period between 1200 and 1700, Newman examines the labors of pioneering alchemists and the impassioned—and often negative—responses to their efforts. By the thirteenth century, Newman argues, alchemy had become a benchmark for determining the abilities of both men and demons, representing the epitome of creative power in the natural world. Newman frames the art-nature debate by contrasting the supposed transmutational power of alchemy with the merely representational abilities of the pictorial and plastic arts—a dispute which found artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Bernard Palissy attacking alchemy as an irreligious fraud. The later assertion by the Paracelsian school that one could make an artificial human being—the homunculus—led to further disparagement of alchemy, but as Newman shows, the immense power over nature promised by the field contributed directly to the technological apologetics of Francis Bacon and his followers. By the mid-seventeenth century, the famous "father of modern chemistry," Robert Boyle, was employing the arguments of medieval alchemists to support the identity of naturally occurring substances with those manufactured by "chymical" means. In using history to highlight the art-nature debate, Newman here shows that alchemy was not an unformed and capricious precursor to chemistry; it was an art founded on coherent philosophical and empirical principles, with vocal supporters and even louder critics, that attracted individuals of first-rate intellect. The historical relationship that Newman charts between human creation and nature has innumerable implications today, and he ably links contemporary issues to alchemical debates on the natural versus the artificial.

Newton The Alchemist

Author: William R. Newman
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 0691185034
Size: 47.80 MB
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A book that finally demystifies Newton’s experiments in alchemy When Isaac Newton’s alchemical papers surfaced at a Sotheby’s auction in 1936, the quantity and seeming incoherence of the manuscripts were shocking. No longer the exemplar of Enlightenment rationality, the legendary physicist suddenly became “the last of the magicians.” Newton the Alchemist unlocks the secrets of Newton’s alchemical quest, providing a radically new understanding of the uncommon genius who probed nature at its deepest levels in pursuit of empirical knowledge. In this evocative and superbly written book, William Newman blends in-depth analysis of newly available texts with laboratory replications of Newton’s actual experiments in alchemy. He does not justify Newton’s alchemical research as part of a religious search for God in the physical world, nor does he argue that Newton studied alchemy to learn about gravitational attraction. Newman traces the evolution of Newton’s alchemical ideas and practices over a span of more than three decades, showing how they proved fruitful in diverse scientific fields. A precise experimenter in the realm of “chymistry,” Newton put the riddles of alchemy to the test in his lab. He also used ideas drawn from the alchemical texts to great effect in his optical experimentation. In his hands, alchemy was a tool for attaining the material benefits associated with the philosopher’s stone and an instrument for acquiring scientific knowledge of the most sophisticated kind. Newton the Alchemist provides rare insights into a man who was neither Enlightenment rationalist nor irrational magus, but rather an alchemist who sought through experiment and empiricism to alter nature at its very heart.

Distilling Knowledge

Author: Bruce T. MORAN
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 0674041224
Size: 23.74 MB
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Alchemy can't be science--common sense tells us as much. But perhaps common sense is not the best measure of what science is, or was. In this book, Bruce Moran looks past contemporary assumptions and prejudices to determine what alchemists were actually doing in the context of early modern science. Examining the ways alchemy and chemistry were studied and practiced between 1400 and 1700, he shows how these approaches influenced their respective practitioners' ideas about nature and shaped their inquiries into the workings of the natural world. His work sets up a dialogue between what historians have usually presented as separate spheres; here we see how alchemists and early chemists exchanged ideas and methods and in fact shared a territory between their two disciplines. "Distilling Knowledge" suggests that scientific revolution may wear a different appearance in different cultural contexts. The metaphor of the Scientific Revolution, Moran argues, can be expanded to make sense of alchemy and other so-called pseudo-sciences--by including a new framework in which "process can count as an object, in which making leads to learning, and in which the messiness of conflict leads to discernment." Seen on its own terms, alchemy can stand within the bounds of demonstrative science.

Scientific Revolution Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guide

Author: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
ISBN: 9780199809240
Size: 31.92 MB
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This ebook is a selective guide designed to help scholars and students of Islamic studies find reliable sources of information by directing them to the best available scholarly materials in whatever form or format they appear from books, chapters, and journal articles to online archives, electronic data sets, and blogs. Written by a leading international authority on the subject, the ebook provides bibliographic information supported by direct recommendations about which sources to consult and editorial commentary to make it clear how the cited sources are interrelated related. This ebook is a static version of an article from Oxford Bibliographies Online: Renaissance and Reformation, a dynamic, continuously updated, online resource designed to provide authoritative guidance through scholarship and other materials relevant to the study of European history and culture between the 14th and 17th centuries. Oxford Bibliographies Online covers most subject disciplines within the social science and humanities, for more information visit www.oxfordbibliographies.com.

The Routledge Companion To Literature And Science

Author: Bruce Clarke
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1136950435
Size: 31.59 MB
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With forty-four newly commissioned articles from an international cast of leading scholars, The Routledge Companion to Literature and Science traces the network of connections among literature, science, technology, mathematics, and medicine. Divided into three main sections, this volume: links diverse literatures to scientific disciplines from Artificial Intelligence to Thermodynamics surveys current theoretical and disciplinary approaches from Animal Studies to Semiotics traces the history and culture of literature and science from Greece and Rome to Postmodernism. Ranging from classical origins and modern revolutions to current developments in cultural science studies and the posthumanities, this indispensible volume offers a comprehensive resource for undergraduates, postgraduates, and researchers. With authoritative, accessible, and succinct treatments of the sciences in their literary dimensions and cultural frameworks, here is the essential guide to this vibrant area of study.

The Invention Of Discovery 1500 1700

Author: Dr James Dougal Fleming
Publisher: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN: 1409478688
Size: 22.86 MB
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The early modern period used to be known as the Age of Discovery. More recently, it has been troped as an age of invention. But was the invention/discovery binary itself invented, or discovered? This volume investigates the possibility that it was invented, through a range of early modern knowledge practices, centered on the emergence of modern natural science. From Bacon to Galileo, from stagecraft to math, from martyrology to romance, contributors to this interdisciplinary collection examine the period's generation of discovery as an absolute and ostensibly neutral standard of knowledge-production. They further investigate the hermeneutic implications for the epistemological authority that tends, in modernity, still to be based on that standard. The Invention of Discovery, 1500–1700 is a set of attempts to think back behind discovery, considered as a decisive trope for modern knowledge.

Gehennical Fire

Author: William R. Newman
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226577142
Size: 42.80 MB
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Both the quest for natural knowledge and the aspiration to alchemical wisdom played crucial roles in the Scientific Revolution, as William R. Newman demonstrates in this fascinating book about George Starkey (1628-1665), America's first famous scientist. Beginning with Starkey's unusual education in colonial New England, Newman traces out his many interconnected careers—natural philosopher, alchemist, chemist, medical practitioner, economic projector, and creator of the fabulous adept, "Eirenaeus Philalethes." Newman reveals the profound impact Starkey had on the work of Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Samuel Hartlib, and other key thinkers in the realm of early modern science.

The Common Sense Of Science

Author: Jacob Bronowski
Publisher: Faber & Faber
ISBN: 0571286941
Size: 27.38 MB
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Jacob Bronowski was, with Kenneth Clarke, the greatest popularizer of serious ideas in Britain between the mid 1950s and the early 1970s. Trained as a mathematician, he was equally at home with painting and physics, and wrote a series of brilliant books that tried to break down the barriers between 'the two cultures'. He denounced 'the destructive modern prejudice that art and science are different and somehow incompatible interests'. He wrote a fine book on William Blake while running the National Coal Board's research establishment. The Common Sense of Science, first published in 1951, is a vivid attempt to explain in ordinary language how science is done and how scientists think. He isolates three creative ideas that have been central to science: the idea of order, the idea of causes and the idea of chance. For Bronowski, these were common-sense ideas that became immensely powerful and productive when applied to a vision of the world that broke with the medieval notion of a world of things ordered according to their ideal natures. Instead, Galileo, Huyghens and Newton and their contemporaries imagined 'a world of events running in a steady mechanism of before and after'. We are still living with the consequences of this search for order and causality within the facts that the world presents to us.

Theory And Reality

Author: Peter Godfrey-Smith
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226300610
Size: 77.62 MB
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How does science work? Does it tell us what the world is "really" like? What makes it different from other ways of understanding the universe? In Theory and Reality, Peter Godfrey-Smith addresses these questions by taking the reader on a grand tour of one hundred years of debate about science. The result is a completely accessible introduction to the main themes of the philosophy of science. Intended for undergraduates and general readers with no prior background in philosophy, Theory and Reality covers logical positivism; the problems of induction and confirmation; Karl Popper's theory of science; Thomas Kuhn and "scientific revolutions"; the views of Imre Lakatos, Larry Laudan, and Paul Feyerabend; and challenges to the field from sociology of science, feminism, and science studies. The book then looks in more detail at some specific problems and theories, including scientific realism, the theory-ladeness of observation, scientific explanation, and Bayesianism. Finally, Godfrey-Smith defends a form of philosophical naturalism as the best way to solve the main problems in the field. Throughout the text he points out connections between philosophical debates and wider discussions about science in recent decades, such as the infamous "science wars." Examples and asides engage the beginning student; a glossary of terms explains key concepts; and suggestions for further reading are included at the end of each chapter. However, this is a textbook that doesn't feel like a textbook because it captures the historical drama of changes in how science has been conceived over the last one hundred years. Like no other text in this field, Theory and Reality combines a survey of recent history of the philosophy of science with current key debates in language that any beginning scholar or critical reader can follow.