Starkey, Boyle, and Chymistry in the Hartlib Circle

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:
Starkey, Boyle, and Chymistry in the Hartlib Circle

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The material presented in this chapter—the details of the actual interplay between theory and practice, between Scholastic logical training and laboratory experimentalism, and between the reading and the writing of secretive texts in the daily work of an influential seventeenth-century chymist—is of great interest, for it reveals a world that has hitherto been closed to the modern spectator. These aspects of Starkey's investigative program shed new light on the nature of the chymical enterprise and the chymist in the mid-seventeenth century. The juxtaposition of these two chymists during a period crucial for Boyle's own intellectual evolution as an experimental natural philosopher naturally evokes the question of how much influence Starkey's chymical practices had on Boyle. This chapter delineates the impact of Starkey's developed experimentalism and chymical expertise on the young Boyle by considering Boyle's early chymical training. the Helmontian principles informing so much of Boyle's early thought were conveyed to him first and above all by Starkey. Some of these notions persisted within the permanent foundations of Boyle's mature chymistry, for it appears that even some of Boyle's most lasting contributions had a substantial Helmontian component.

Keywords: Boyle; Starkley; chymist; Helmontian component; laboratory

Chapter.  32014 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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