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Boyle's Use of Chymical Corpuscles and the Reduction to the Pristine State to Demonstrate the Mechanical Origin of Qualities

Boyle's Use of Chymical Corpuscles and the Reduction to the Pristine State to Demonstrate the Mechanical Origin of Qualities

Chapter:
(p.190) 7 Boyle's Use of Chymical Corpuscles and the Reduction to the Pristine State to Demonstrate the Mechanical Origin of Qualities
Source:
Atoms and Alchemy
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226577036.003.0008

Boyle's attempts to demonstrate the mechanical origin of qualities owed a significant debt to Pierre Gassendi's approach, which frequently consisted of attempting to induce or remove qualities by the alteration of texture alone. This chapter states that Boyle developed such arguments still further and combined them with Sennert's reductions to the pristine state to produce a powerful attack on theories of Aristotelian inspiration linking qualities to form. The chapter also reviews how Boyle and Sennert differed from Gassendi in their emphasis on that chymical proof par excellence, the reductio in pristinum statum. In his own treatment of qualities, Boyle employed the distinction between these two senses of accident in these words—a particular quality may be accidental to the matter in which it happens to be found in the predicamental sense and yet in the predicable sense it may actually belong to the particular essence of a body made out of that matter. In addition, the chapter focuses on three experimental strategies used by Boyle that rely implicitly on his appeal to the essential attributes emerging from aggregate corpuscles.

Keywords:   Robert Boyle, Geber, Daniel Sennert, chymical corpuscles, pristine state, qualities

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