The Skeptical Chemist

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by Robert Boyle
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Sometimes called the founder of modern chemistry, the Seventeenth-century natural philosopher Robert Boyle is credited with transforming chemistry from an occult discipline to a modern science in which theory and practical experiment support and advance each other. Influenced by Bacon and Descartes, Boyle formulated his empirically based “corpuscular” theory of the constitution of matter, which freed chemistry from the then accepted notion of elements – “whether the earth, air, fire, and water of the Aristotelians; the salt, sulfur, and mercury of the Paracelsans; [or] the phlegm, oil, spirit, acid and alkali of later chemists.”

Boyle’s corpuscular philosophy was first published in 1661 in Certain Physiological Essays and later that year in the first edition of The Sceptical Chymist.  The second edition of the latter (1680), upon which this Classics of Science facsimile is based, contains nearly twice the material as the first edition and includes Boyle’s law (volume varies inversely with pressure), originally stated in 1662.

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