Utility and audience in eighteenth-century chemistry: Case-studies of William Cullen and Joseph Priestley


Historians of science are less inclined now than they were a few years ago to regard chemistry as having sprung full-grown from the mind of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier. Many of the contours of pre-Lavoisierian chemistry have recently been mapped, its Newtonian and Stahlian theoretical traditions have been delineated, and the degree of coherence enforced on the subject by its didactic role has been argued. In addition, the social prominence and cohesion achieved by chemists in various national contexts, such as France, Scotland and Germany, have been investigated. Karl Hufbauer (arguing specifically from the case of Germany) and Christoph Meinel have proposed that the cultural climate of the European Enlightenment provided the language and the social settings in which chemistry could be detached from its previous role as a service-art for medicine, and presented as a science with diverse practical applications.

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The British Journal for the History of Science


Cambridge University Press

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© British Society for the History of Science 1988