Worlds Apart

in Alchemy Tried in the Fire

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780226577111
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226577050 | DOI:
Worlds Apart

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This chapter further introduces George Starkey and Robert Boyle. These two men have been set up on occasion as exemplars of two hemispheres in the history of chemistry; the former as the last of the alchemists and the latter as the first of the chemists. It examines the relative interests of Starkey and Boyle during their youth in the 1640s, and then at the time of their first meeting in early 1651. It also considers how Boyle came to be viewed as standing in the vanguard of the “New Chemistry.” This image did not arise spontaneously, but resulted in part from the way in which Boyle chose to present himself and his relationship to his chymical forebears. The divergent portraits presented here of these two young men—a Starkey skilled in laboratory practice and single-minded in his devotion to chymistry, and a Boyle predominantly a moralist with a perhaps slightly dilettantish interest in chymistry—seem at odds with some usual perceptions of Starkey's and Boyle's work, and certainly with the divergent fates the two would receive historically.

Keywords: divergent; chemistry; Starkey; Boyle; alchemists

Chapter.  13214 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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