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The Limits of MatterChemistry, Mining, and Enlightenment$
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Hjalmar Fors

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226194998

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226195049.001.0001

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From Curious to Ingenious Knowledge

From Curious to Ingenious Knowledge

(p.77) 4 From Curious to Ingenious Knowledge
The Limits of Matter

Hjalmar Fors

University of Chicago Press

This chapter investigates the influence of mechanical philosophy on chymistry during the first half of the eighteenth century. The first section of the chapter discusses the journey to England of Erich Odhelius and maps out how he became an anglophile, and an advocate of the new experimental philosophy of the Royal Society. Attention is then shifted to the university town of Uppsala and an investigation follows on how the Bureau, through the mechanic Christopher Polhem and others, became a center for Uppsala-inspired late Cartesianism, mathematics and engineering. Attention is then again turn our attention to London, and how the loosely connected group around the Bureau and at Uppsala were influenced by, and reframed, recent English developments. Special attention is paid to the work and journeys of Polhem’s protégé and assistant, the young Emmanuel Swedenborg. Moving on from London and Uppsala, the chapter proceeds to Leiden in the Netherlands and traces how Herman Boerhaave’s reconceptualization of the new experimental philosophies and methods gained a decisive influence over the chemistry of the Bureau of Mines.

Keywords:   mechanical science, mechanical philosophy, Cartesianism, experimental philosophy, cameral sciences, circulation of knowledge, utility

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