Chapter

Theory and Practice

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226577050.003.0004
Theory and Practice

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Starkey's working laboratory methodology proved to be coherent and sophisticated in several ways. Starkey also developed the quantitative techniques of Helmontian chymistry into labor-saving and cost-monitoring tools intended to improve the industrial efficiency of his laboratory. A careful consideration of the projects allows for the documenting and exploring of Starkey's thought processes and experimental methodology as well as his broader aims for chymistry, both philosophical and intellectual. The notebooks bear witness to his commitment to such practical laboratory issues as experimental design, the interplay of theory and practice, the sources of authority and proof, quantitative methods, the analysis and assessment of experimental results, and even the value of failure in experimental work. Starkey was a highly reflective laboratory worker, and his notebooks are full of his cogitations on the nature and method of investigative laboratory science as he pursued it in the mid-seventeenth century.

Keywords: Starkey; laboratory science; Helmontian chymistry; quantitative techniques; theory

Chapter.  28333 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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