Thinking about Matter: Studies in the History of Chemical Philosophy, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Thinking about Matter

Studies in the History of Chemical Philosophy, 1st Edition

By John Hedley Brooke


302 pages

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Hardback: 9780860784647
pub: 1995-09-14
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In these articles Professor Brooke has aimed to expose and explore the many layers of philosophical debate that accompanied the development of chemistry in the 100 years from Priestley to Kekulé. During this period the foundations of our modern science were laid: Lavosier’s ’chemical revolution’, Dalton’s atomic theory, the electrochemical concepts of Berzelius transformed the science, as did new ideas of valency and molecular structure. But it was also a period of intense controversy when chemists called each other brigands and assassins.


'How often do we lament the fact that the book-and-tenure system (at least in the States) drives us to write unnecessarily long books instead of turning out short, yet insightful and significant articles? The Variorum Collected Studies Series provides us with an important outlet for the landmark articles of some well-known historians of science while presenting, at the same time, an overview of their works over time. This volume makes an excellent addition to the series.' Ambix 'Brooke writes with wit and precision. His arguments are powerful, and the essays in this volume, individually important, gain added force by being presented together…A useful contribution to the history and philosophy of chemistry.’ Annals of Science 'Brooke exhibits his wide-ranging scholarship and influence on contemporary historiography…' Choice

Table of Contents

Contents: Chemists in their contexts: some recent trends in historiography; A sower went forth: Joseph Priestley and the ministry of reform; Davy’s chemical outlook: the acid test; The superiority of nature’s art? Vitalism, natural theology and the rise of organic chemistry; Wöhler’s urea and its vital force?-a verdict from the chemists; Berzelius, the dualistic hypothesis, and the rise of organic chemistry; Laurent, Gerhardt, and the philosophy of chemistry; Organic synthesis and the unification of chemistry-a reappraisal; Avogadro’s hypothesis and its fate: a case-study in the failure of case-studies; Doing down the Frenchies: how much credit should Kekulé have given?; Index.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General