264 BOOK REVIEWS Lawrence M. Principe, The Aspiring Adept: Robert Boyle and his Alchemical Quest (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998) 339 pages. $49.00 ISBN 0-691-01678-X. In his 1994 book, A Social History of Truth, Steven Shapin gave us Robert Boyle the polite gentleman and shaper of the new philosophy; now Lawrence Principe gives us Robert Boyle the chrysopoetic (gold-making) alchemist. It is now some decades since the pioneering work of Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs, Allen Debus, and Karin Figala, so Boyle the alchemist will not surprise many readers. Moreover, Michael Hunter and William Newman, among other historians of chemistry, have preceded Principe in setting out many of the details of Boyle's views about and practice of alchemy. Principe's book, however, is the most focused account of Boyle's alchemical activities. After a brief recounting of the various uses made of Boyle in the history of chemistry as an icon of "modern science," Principe gets down to the labor of proof in Chapter 2. He maintains that The 5ceptical Chymist should not be viewed as a watershed work that marks a sharp break between alchemy and modern chemistry. Principe lays out the context of seventeenth-century chemical literature to show that
Early Science and Medicine – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1999
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