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The Establishment of the Mechanical Philosophy Author(s): Marie Boas Reviewed work(s): Source: Osiris, Vol. 10 (1952), pp.

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The Establishment of the Mechanical Philosophy

CONTENTS Preface. I. Introduction. II. Substantial Forms and Occult Forces. III. The Reintroduction of Ancient Atomism. IV. Early Mechanical Philosophies. V. Cartesian Theories of Matter. VI. BOYLE'S Theory of the Structure of Matter. VII. The Banishing of Occult Qualities. VIII. The Importance of BOYLE'S Corpuscular Philosophy. and the Theory of Attraction. IX. NEWTON X. Conclusion. XI. Bibliography. PREFACE The following is a revision of my doctoral thesis entitled Robert Bovle and the Corpuscular Philosophy: A Study of Theories of M1atter in the Seventeenth Century (Cornell University, I949). The original contained a long section on the influence of Hero of Alexandria, most of which has been omitted here since it formed the basis for an article published in Isis. .A considerable digression on the relation of BOYLE'S chemical work to his corpuscular theory has also been omitted and the details of BOYLE'S early life and work have been compressed. Much of the following material will be familiar to anyone acquainted either work or with the history of seventeenth century atomism. It is with BOYLE'S however my belief that nowhere has this material been presented from quite the angle chosen here. In analyzing the work preceding BOYLE'S I have tried to discuss particularly that which influenced him either directly or through the posing of problems which he had to solve, and I have also tried to make clear wherein BOYLE'S predecessors failed to anticipate him. I have added a detailed discussion of NEWTON'S theory of matter well-known though it is, since it clearly belongs to the same tradition as the work of BOYLE,and because the views of eighteenth century Newtonians were frequently derived almost equally from BOYLE and NEWTON. The Bibliography is divided into four parts: Part I comprises histories of atomism; Part II lists seventeenth and eighteenth century works which are of particular relevance for the history of atomism, together w;th secondary sources



concerned with the authors of these works; Part III contains a short list of books on the history of science which were particularly pertinent for the problem in hand; and Part IV is a very brief list of the more important sources of ancient are to the six-volume edition of 1772. I have atomism. All references to BOYLE to thank the reference department of the Cornell University Library for procuring many books not otherwise available to me, and also the authorities of the Widener Library of Harvard University who kindly permitted me full use of the library on several occasions. My special thanks are due to Professor HENRY GUERLAC under whose guidance the initial investigation was undertaken; he offered continuous encouragement and innumerable stimulating ideas.



The application of atomic theory to physical science began, as is well known, in the seventeenth century. Recent scholarly investigations have amply shown how GASSENDI was but one among the many who revived the doctrines of the Greek atomic philosophers. At the same time DESCARTES was the founder of a rival school, and Cartesians and " Epicureans" fought many learned and vehement battles over the nature of matter. Then the growth of experimental science led to new particulate theories and among the leaders in this development was ROBERT BOYLE: chemist, physicist, one of the founders of the Royal Society, and a master of the " new learning." BOYLE was neither a Cartesian nor an Epicurean but, as he preferred to say, a " confirmed corpuscularian," whose enormous prestige in his own time was a tribute to his experimental discoveries, but equally to his espousal of the atomic theory. Though his contemporaries were thoroughly conscious of BOYLE'S contributions to the acceptance of atomism, modern scholarship has been curiously prone to minimize this aspect of his work. BOYLE is consistently praised for the Sceptical Chymist, in which his attack on the prevailing theories of elements is so much better sustained than his attempt to replace these theories with an alternate definition of his own, that he appears as the completely sceptical, experimental scientist. Analogously it is often assumed that he was always more interested in the overthrow of the Aristotelian plenum than in the development of an atomic theory to take its place. Thus BOYLE has been pictured as a



seventeenth century torerunner of the modern experimental, antitheoretical, " operational" approach, or more mildly as an empirical scientist too wedded to scepticism to translate his corpuscular hypothesis into a corpuscular theory applicable to the whole realm of physics and chemistry (i). It is hard to reconcile this view with the opinion ot his contemporaries that he was the " restorer of the mechanical philosophy," a view which becomes understandable only if one considers as a whole the extraordinary and diverse collection of essays which was a product of folty years' devoticn to natural philosophy. This title, " restorer of the mechanical philosophy," contains, I believe, the clue to BOYLE'Sreputation and is at the same time a key to the understanding of his proper place in seventeenth century science. For the mechanical philosophy was the answer to a fundamental problem of the time and by its aid were evolved theories of matter both more sophisticated and more useful to early modern science than the Greek theories from which seventeenth century atomism took its original inspiration. Fundamentally the mechanical philosophy implied the explanation of properties of bodies in terms not of Aristotelian physics but of the newly developed and developing science of mechanics which
was replacing it. DEMOCRITUS was considered to have used

mechanical explanations because for him the properties of bodies depended only upon the size and shape of the component atoms. Thus a body felt hot because it contained atoms of fire; and these atoms were those of fire rather than of, say, cold because they were very small and round whereas the atoms of. cold were bigger and sharp pointed. In contrast to this clear if naive method of explanation Aristotelian and scholastic physics postulated certain innate real qualities" and " substantial forms" whose presence in a body guaranteed the body's possession of the associated properties. Neither of these two modes of explanation was entirely adequate to cope with the rapidly accumulating scientific knowledge of the seventeenth century, though the method of DEMOCRITUS was clearly the more profitable if it could be developed sufficiently. It is
(i) The first suggestion is essentially that of Mr. CONANTin his illuminating discussion of BOYLE'Spneumatic experiments; On Understanding Science, New Haven, 1946. The second is that of the late Louis TRENCHARD MORE : The Life and Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, New York, I944.



the development of a sophisticated mechanical philosophy and its struggle to overthrow the doctrine of substantial forms that constitutes the subject of the following pages.

II. -


The doctrine of forms and qualities was one of the most vexing problems facing seventeenth century atomists. In modern terms these forms and qualities are merely phrases used to characterize the physical and chemical properties of bodies; but for the seventeenth century natural philosophers they were far more than this. Forms and qualities were real entities attached to matter or substance; hence the names "substantial forms " and " real qualities." They expressed the result of sense perception which was thus presumed to penetrate to the ultimate reality of matter; secondary qualities were therefore thought to be real, innate and intrinsic in bodies. The " forms "-of heat, whiteness, fluidity and so on-are speciously similar to the modern term " property "; but where modern science " explains" a property, the form or quality was accepted as a complete and satisfactory explanation of the observed phenomena, the final answer to all queries. The doctrine of forms and qualities belongs to peripatetic science and its origin can be traced back to ARISTOTLE. His four elements, earth, air, fire and water, though all composed of the same universal matter and capable of being converted one into the other, were differentiated by the associated " qualities " of cold, dry, hot and moist. When the elements combined to form more complex substances the qualities which were innate in the matter composing the elements also combined, producing the properties of the mixture. The process by which this occurred was never formulated in detail by ARISTOTLE but his followers developed it into a scientific theory of some complexity. For mediaeval and later peripatetic scientists, whatever caused sense perception was assumed to be a form or quality. Heat, color, solidity, fluidity, taste, odour, volatility, corrosiveness and a host of other properties were perceptible because the body under observation possessed, more or less completely, certain forms. The classic example is that of heat; when fire was applied to a body



it grew hot by acquiring temporarily from the fire the " form of heat "; if it received this form imperfectly, the body cooled upon removal from the fire; if it were capable of receiving the form perfectly, it caught fire and would then communicate the form to other bodies. Sound was probably the only sense perception not associated with a form; though EPICURUShad explained it in terms of atoms, the mechanical explanation had been known since the time of ARISTOTLE. But light was a quality or form; this accounts for the vehemence with which seventeenth century mechanically minded scientists insisted upon its corporeality. That light was as much a form as heat is clearly indicated by the comparison of AQUINAS (2): he noted that water would retain heat after the removal of fire whereas the air grew dark as soon as the sun went down. This was, he thought, because the water was able to receive and accept the form of fire, though imperfectly, while the air could not truly receive the form of light. For AQUINAS and other scholastics the doctrine of forms was primarily of theological value; hence it is that the theory of substantial forms as applied to natural philosophy finds little or no place in histories of mediaeval philosophy. The increasing interest in science, however, necessitated either a more complex system of substantial forms or else a realization that these were but names of secondary qualities, that is the effects of more fundamental and simple characteristics of matter. Both these solutions were tried in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the second by such mathematically minded scientists as KEPLER and GALILEO, the first, with which we are at the moment concerned, by the chemists. The doctrine of substantial forms and real qualities was revitalized in consequence of the rise of chemistry after PARACELSUS. Chemical operations inevitably resulted in the formation of new chemical substances. Some reason must be adduced to explain the results of chemical reactions, in which the properties of the product often are quite different from those of the reactants. The chemists followed the accepted peripatetic explanations of the day and interpreted this phenomenon in terms of mixtures and combin(2) The " Summa Theologica" of St. Thomas Aquinas, translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province, London, I922; Part I, Question 104, Article I,
p. 22.



ations of forms. This powerfully stimulated the belief in the possibility of alchemical transmutation; the " form of gold " was attached to a yellow, malleable, dense metal and there was no reason why some other metallic substance, normally endowed with other properties, might not acquire this " form of gold" and so be truly gold itself. The Paracelsian or " spagyrical" theory of chemical principles, whereby all substances were composed of the tria prima, salt, sulphur and mercury, did not differ in this respect from the Aristotelian theory of elements. For the tria prima had their associated qualities, just as did the four Aristotelian elements, and substantial forms played as important a role in
the chemical theory of the followers of PARACELSUS as they did in that of the followers of ARISTOTLE.

It is not only from the modern point of view that this method of explanation seems inadequate, confused, and hard to grasp. The mechanically minded scientists of the seventeenth century called such forms and qualities " occult " and would not admit their validity. And associated with these forms and qualities were other terms even more occult and in common use by peripatetic natural philosophers and chemists; these were terms which endowed inanimate objects with the characteristics of living beings in an attempt to explain some of the more recondite phenomena of nature, notably suction and chemical affinity. The mystical frame of reference of the alchemist notably encouraged such animism. We still speak of chemical affinity as if one substance " preferred " another according to its place in the electromotive series; but our metaphor was the seventeenth century's reality. There were sympathies and antipathies, congruities and incongruities, attraction and hostility. Best known of these terms, is nature's notorious abhorrence of a vacuum. That an attempt was made by some clear sighted scientists to reject animation as far as possible is indicated by the preference many of them showed for the term fuga vacui rather than horror vacui (3). That nature avoided a vacuum was a statement rather than an indication of emotion. An explanation in mechanical terms of this most mysterious
(3) ARISTOTLE himself never used this term which is a late scholastic or peripatetic phrase. 27



yet common phenomenon did much to turn the tide against occult explanation throughout natural philosophy. The establishment of the true physical nature of air and atmospheric pressure is such a well-known triumph of seventeenth century physics that it needs no discussion here (4). It was by the publication of his revolutionary work in pneumatics that ROBERT BOYLE first became known outside the small circle of his scientific friends. BOYLE was a leisured and studious amateur of science, fortunate enough to have been educated in a highly informal and non-academic fashion which had neglected the usual scholastic training of the university for a surprisingly wide acquaintance with contemporary science (5). As a very young man residing in pleasant solitude in his own manor hoLse he had settled down to the enthusiastic pursuit of chemistry and the acquisition of more learning (6). In this he was helped by contact with that London group of scientists which later became the nucleus of the Royal Society (7).
(4) The most detailed and thorough account of the early history of pneumatics DE WAARD : L'experience barometrique, ses antecedents is to be found in CORNELIS et ses explications, Thouars, 1936. For PASCAL'S work see F. STROWSKI : Pascal et son temps, 3 vols, I909-13; vol. II, chapters 3-5. (5) Practically all our knowledge of BOYLE'Searly life is derived from his autobiographical fragment " Account of Philaretus during his Minority" quoted in full in THOMAS BIRCH: Life of Boyle, 1744, which is included in BIRCH'S 1772 edition of BOYLE'S Works as a preface. This ends in 1642 and covers the period of his education at Eton and on the Continent. Additional information about his life at Eton is contained in DOROTHEA TOWNSHEND : The Life and Letters of the Great Earl of Cork, 1904, chap. i8. On the period after 1642, the best sources are his letters and the introductions to his published works. Modern biogiaphies have added no important amount of new material. VAN HELMONT, SENNERT (6) His familiarity with BACON, DESCARTES, GASSENDI, and indeed all the scientists of his day is amply attested by frequent references in his works, despite his often quoted disclaimer, for which see Physiological Essays; Works, I, 302. For his chemical studies see his correspondence for the with HARTLIB, and years 1646-54, especially that with his sister Lady RANELAGH, with HARTLIB'S son-in-law CLODIUS,published in BIRCH'S Life and in Works, VI. (7) BOYLE'Sreferences to the " invisible college" are well known. It has generally been assumed that he referred to that scientific group described long after by WALLIS(in an account quoted in all the principal histories of the Royal Society) as originating in 1645 and meeting continuously either at Gresham College or at Oxford until it was formalized at the Restoration. The latest study, however, convincingly suggests that the " invisible college " refers to HARTLIB'S version of the elaborate universal college projected by COMENIUS; see R. H. SYFERT: " The Origins of the Royal Society "; Notes and Records of the Royal Society, V, 1948, 75-137. There is confirmation in the otherwise puzzling fact that WALLIS did not mention BOYLE as one of the original members.



In i654 BOYLE joined this group in Oxford to continue the extensive ,tudy of what he called "experimental science with its key, chemistry "-a phrase which already indicated his original point of view (8). Here he laid the basis of his future scientific reputation among the Oxford circle; for most of his early published works were completed long before publication and circulated in MSS among his friends (9). was therefore Though it has not generally been realized, BOYLE a scientist of some standing among the advocates of the " new learning " when in i660 he published his famous account of experiments performed with his newly perfected air pump. He had long been interested in pneumatics; in I647 he had written
HARTLIB, "As for the pneumatical engine, that I use to call a wind-gun, which you mention in your letter as presented to the king, ... I remember very well to have seen one of them not exceeding in bigness nor differing much in shape from an ordinary carbine... This wind-gun I both saw and discharged; and now it comes into my mind, I read, not long since, in a late mechanical treatise of the excellent Mersennus (io), both the construction and use of this engine; and amongst the uses one, whose stratagem obliged me to take of it particular notice; and it was, how by the help of this instrument to discover the weight of the air, which, for all the prattling of our book-philosophers, we must believe to be both heavy and ponderable, if we will not refuse belief to our senses " (I ).

The English scientists were much interested in the Torricellian experiment and its variations then being tried in France; as
" We remain, Sir, very much indebted to you for the communication of your experiment with the tubes and the mercury, for we have made two or three trials of it, in the company of men of letters and rank, with much pleasure and astonishment " (12). (8) BIRCH: Life of Boyle; Works, I, xlix, quoted from MSS notes. (9) Part of the Usefulness of Experimental Philosophy, published in I663, was written between I65I and I653; see Works, II, 3-4. Many of the Physiologicae Essays, published in I66I, were completed before I657; see Works, I, 298. The Sceptical Chymist was circulated in MSS before its publication in 166I; see Works, I, 458. And the never published History of Fire and Flame is referred to in the Weight and Spring of the Air, completed in December I659. (io) This was Cogitata physico-mathematica, Paris, 1644. to HARTLIB,I9 March I646/7. In BIRCH: Life of Boyle; (iI) Letter of BOYLE Works, I, ixxviii. (12) Letter of 24 March I648, quoted in HARCOURT BROWN : Scientific Organizations of Seventeenth Century France, 1934, 57-8; see also letter of HAAKto MERSENNE,3 July 1648, 270-72.



experiment how to shew, as they suppose, that there is or may be vacuum" (13), (the Torricellian experiment), and BOYLEhimself performed it, for in i659 he spoke of " having several years before often made the experiment de vacuo with my own hands" (14).
HARTLIB described to BOYLE "an In 1657 there was published at Frankfurt GASPAR SCHOTT'S

Mechanica hydraulico-pneumatica, a treatise on pneumatics mainly of interest because of its detailed description of the vacuum pump
invented by OTTO VON GUERICKE. It described some of the

experiments performed by its inventor, though not the famous Magdeburg experiment; it is interesting that the book also contained a long refutation of the possibility of producing a true vacuum by this or any other means. BOYLE became aware of this book almost as soon as it was published (i5), and apparently immediately recognized the possibilities inherent in the use of the air pump, for in January of 1657/8 HARTLIB remarked in a letter to BOYLE, " You still speak of the German vacuum as of no ordinary beauty" (i6). BOYLE put several of his helpers to work on building an improved form of air pump; the instrument he used was that built by HOOKE. In the next two years BOYLE, with the assistance of HOOKE (I7), performed a series of brilliant and important experiments on the elasticity of air, its weight, and the production of a vacuum. The New Experiments PhysicoMechanical, touching the Spring of the Air and its Effects was
(13) Letter dated 9 May 1648, from London; Works, VI, 77-8. (I4) Weight and Spring of the Air; Works, I, 7. said in the Weight and Spring of the Air that he had heard a descrip(I5) BOYLE tion of the book, but not read it; yet in I66I, EVELYN acknowledged the receipt of a copy of the book from BOYLE; letter dated I3 September I66I; Works, VI, 294. (16) Letter of 7 January I657/8; Works, VI, 99. (17) The vexed question of how much credit should be assigned to HOOKE cannot be settled conclusively. HOOKE was responsible for the final form of the air pump, but he was working under BOYLE'S direction. Very likely BOYLEhired him as assistant for this very purpose, since HOOKEwas mechanically minded. The view of L. T. MoRE: The Life and Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, 1944, pp. 64, 94-6, that BOYLE'S only work in practical physics was done while HooKE was his assistant, so that HooKE must receive most of the credit, is quite untenable. BOYLE continued to publish work in pneumatics, and did a considerable amount of work in hydrostatics, long after HooKE had left him to become demonstrator for the Royal Society. Further, HooKE never asked for credit, which he would not have been slow to do if he had performed the major share of the creative work.



published in i660, and immediately established BOYLE'Sscientific reputation in the world. Here he presented to physics a new laboratory instrument, promptly accepted and adapted to various uses by the leading scientists of the day. He weighed the air in vacuo; demonstrated with great effectiveness the role of atmospheric pressure by performing the Torricelian experiment in his apparatus, first at atmospheric pressure and then under reduced pressure; showed that sound was not transmitted within the evacuated receiver; tried to study the role of air in respiration; and performed many experiments to demonstrate the elasticity of the air. BOYLEthus waged a decisive battle in one campaign of the war against the use of occult forces in the explanation of natural phenomena. There was now little excuse for a belief either in nature's abhorrence of a vacuum, or in the necessity of an attractive force to explain suction. As BOYLE wrote,
" It will not easily then be intelligibly made out, how hatred or aversation, which is a passion of the soul, can either for a vacuum, or any other object, be supposed to be in water, or such like inanimate bodies, which cannot be presumed to know, when a vacuum would ensue, if they did not bestir themselves to prevent it; nor to be so generous as to act contrary to what is most conductive to their own particular preservation for the public good of the universe " (I8).

Not all peripatetic scientists were immediately convinced by BOYLE'S arguments, any more than they had been by the work of his predecessors, though BOYLE'S undogmatic description of a vacuum as a space from which air had been removed, and into which nothing had rushed to take its place, did much to allay the metaphysical difficulties of a vacuum, since it allowed for
the transmission of light, and so on. LINUS and HOBBES (the

latter no Aristotelian) were particularly contentious adversaries; it was in answer to LINUS that BOYLE performed the quantitative experiments which confirmed " the hypothesis, that supposes the pressures and expansions to be in reciprocal proportion" (19).
(I8) Spring and Weight of the Air; Works, I, 75. (19) A Defense of the Doctrine touching the Spring and Weight of the Air, first edition I662; Works, I, 156f. This hypothesis was derived by RICHARD TOWNELY from data given by BOYLE in Experiment 17 of the Spring and Weight of the Air, in which BOYLEnoted that such a calculation should be made. When BOYLE told HOOKEof TOWNELEY'S hypothesis, HOOKEreported that it would agree with experiments he had made (after i660), accounts of which he published in



This is the earliest (i662) published statement of BOYLE'S Law, here denominated an hypothesis; the first to call it a " law of nature " was MARIOTTE, the able experimenter of the Academie des Sciences, in his Discours de la nature de l'air, published in
1676 (20).

From this time forward, most competent scientists accepted the pressure of the atmosphere as the cause of suction, even when, like the Cartesians, they denied that the vacuum Boylianum was really empty. In this way, " attraction," " sympathy," " abhorrence " and similar terms were banished forever from pneumatics. It is against the background of this successful attack upon occult qualities that we must view the more general attempt to replace substantial forms and real qualities, all occult, by mechanical, atomic explanations, This was a long struggle in
which BOYLE again played a leading role.

III. -


The early seventeenth century was a period of profound interest in theories of matter. One aspect was the new elementary theory introduced by PARACELSUS which replaced the four Aristotelian elements of earth, air, fire and water by the tria prima of salt, sulphur and mercury. Of more lasting significance even for chemistry was the revival and reconsideration of the atomic
the Micrographia of 1664. For an excellent analysis of the conflicting claims, see W. S. JAMES, "The Discovery of the Gas Laws. I. BOYLE'S Law "; Science
Progress, 23, I928, 263-72.

work was performed with no knowledg2 (20) It is usually stated that MARIOTTE'S of BOYLE'S. But BOYLE'S Defense against Hobbes and Linus was translated into Latin in 1663, and was therefore available on the Continent. Further, in 1662, HUYGENS received a copy of the book; in a letter to Sir ROBERT MORAYof the Royal Society he mentioned his especial interest in the experiments " concerning the condensation and rarefaction of the air, which prove clearly enough that remarkable property, viz., that the strength of the spring follows the reciprocal : Correspondence proportion of the spaces wherein it is reduced." Quoted in RIGAUD of Scientific Men of the I7th Century, Oxford, I84I; Letter XXXVII HUYGENS to MoRAY; I, 93. And in I668, when Du HAMEL,secretary of the Academie des Sciences visited England to make the acquaintance of the Royal Society, he was particularly anxious to meet BOYLE; see FONTENELLE'S iloge of Du HAMEL. work had long been known and admired in France. By I676, BOYLE'S



theories of antiquity. From the mid-sixteenth century there was a new interest in the underlying nature of matter and the application of atomic theories to the new science just freeing itself from Aristotelian doctrines. This movement was initially a part of the general anti-Aristotelian attitude engendered by the Renaissance humanists though it rapidly outgrew its original impetus.


the atomic theories of DEMOCRITUS and EPICURUS had

been known and occasionally discussed during the Middle Ages (21) their real revival dates from the period of the Italian Renaissance. The humanist interest in LUCRETIUS began with the discovery
of the manuscript of the De rerum natura by POGGIOBRACCIOLINI in 14I7; the poem was immensely popular as a literary and

philosophic work during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (22). Similarly, there was a new interest in DIOGENES LAERTIUS whose work had been little known to the Middle Ages (23); the tenth book of his Lives of the Philosophers was of particular importance for the growth of atomic theories since it contained the three letters of EPICURUS (most important of which was the Letter to Herodotus) as well as the life of EPICURUS. Though PLATO'STimaeus had been available to the Latin West since its translation into Latin by CHALCIDIAS in the fourth century, the new humanist interest in PLATO encouraged a more thorough study of this work which contains PLATO'Stheory of geometrical atomism. The increasing anti-Aristotelian trend of the times, fostered by the anti-scholasticism of the humanists and further developed under the influence of the new discoveries of physical science, led men to a study of the earlier Greek philosophers whom ARISTOTLEhad attacked so vigorously. There was ample opport: Geschichte der Atomistik, I890, I, Erstes Buch, (2i) See KURD LASSWITZ MABILLEAU : Histoire de la philosophie atomistique, i895, passim; and LEOPOLD livre 3. Lucretius and his Influence, I935. There were numerous (22) See G. D. HADZITS: editions of the poem, and even two Italian translations in the sixteenth century. For editions in English, the first of which was in the seventeenth century, see T. F. MAYO: Epicurus in England (1650-1725), [I934]. (23) For references to his work, see C. H. HASKINS: Studies in the History of Mediaeval Science, 1924, p. I42, 143, i66, I90. The first printed edition appeared in 1475; there were many editions in Latin and in Italian in the sixteenth century.



unity to become acquainted with the atomic theories of DEMOCRITUS through the study of ARISTOTLE'S works, particularly the De caelo and the De generatione et corruptione, both thoroughly familiar to all educated men of the times. Similarly, GALEN had denounced
the medical atomism of ASCLEPIADES OF BITHYNIA; and a critical

reader of the Natural Faculties could gain a fair knowledge of

this theory (24). CICERO discussed the philosophy of DEMOCRITUS and EPICURUS at some length, and CICERO was the idol of the

humanists (25). Even EMPEDOCLES and ANAXAGORAS were cited in support of anti-Aristotelian, corpuscular theories of matter(26). The atheistical implications of the atomic theory, which seem not to have bothered the sixteenth century overmuch, caused the religious minded men of the seventeenth century to identify the probably mythical Moschus the Phoenician (mentioned by STRABO as the founder of the atomic theory) with the Biblical Moses, thus lending theological sanction to the suspiciously heterodox
atomic theory (27).
discussed the Epicurean theory of magnetism, deriving his (24) Thus GILBERT
views from GALEN as well as from LUCRETIUS. See De Magnete reptinted in the " Classics of the St. John's program "; p. 98, IOI. Cf. GALEN On the Natural For ASCLEPIADES see also CELSUS: On Medicine, Faculties, I, XII and XIV.

Proemium. : De natura deoruwn,especially Book I, XXIV; and De finibus, (25) CICERO

especially Book I, VI. Additional information on the atomic theories of the ancients was obtained from the Placita philosophorum ascribed to PLUTARCH, and the Eclogae physicae of JOHN STOBAEUS(or STOBAIOS), still the two standard doxographic sources. (26) Thus RALPH CUDWORTH wrote, " That Empedocles, who was a Pythagorean is a thing that could hardly be doubted of." also, did Physiologize Atomically, See The True Intellectual System of the Universe, London, For 1678, p. 14.

see " The Preface to the Reader." ANAXAGORAS,

EMPEDOCLESas a believer in a particulate theory

For a modern discussion of

of matter, see W. A. HEIDEL :


of Greek Corpuscular Theories," Harvard Studies in Classical

11.24. "And if one must VII, 271. believe POSEIDONIUS,

Philosophy, XXII, 1911, 11-172. (27) See STRABO: Book XVI, the Trojan times "; Loeb

the ancient dogma about atoms originated with MOCHUS, a Sidonian, bor
Library edition, Cf.



Intellectual System, The Preface to the Reader; " And as there was a necessity for us here, to give some Account of that Ancient Atomick Physiology, with which Atheism now became thus Blended and complicated; so do we... chiefly insist upon Two things concerning it. First, That it was no Invention of Democritus nor Leucippus, but of much greater Antiquity: not onely from that Tradition transmitted by Posidonius the Stoick, that it derived its Original from one Moschus a Phoenician, who lived before the Trojan Wars, (which plainly makes it to have been Mosaicall.)...."



Throughout the sixteenth century there were many references to atomism, either as a physical theory or as a philosophic doctrine. Epicureans were sufficiently numerous to merit frequent attack by CALVIN who rejected both their philosophic and their medical opinions (28). The French physician JEAN FERNEL spoke of the atoms of DEMOCRITUS as not to be taken seriously (29); this reference was noted with interest by other sixteenth century
medical men. read LUCRETIUSand was influenced FRACASTORO

by his ideas in developing the theory of contagion(30). A very interesting reference is that by COPERNICUS; it may be relevant to remember that he had studied medicire. He wrote,
" As with those tiny and indivisible bodies called atoms which, though they are not perceivable by themselves and do not when taken two or several together immediately form a visible body, yet may be multiplied until they join to form finally a great mass; just so it is with the place of the earth: although it is not itself at the center of the world, its distance from the center is not comparable with the immense dimensions of the sphere of the fixed stars " (3I).

This is quite striking evidence that there was, by the middle of the sixteenth century, a fairly widespread interest in the atomic view of matter.
(28) Institution de la religion chrctienne, ed. Baumgarter, Geneva, I888, p. 26f. (First edition, I548). (29) De abditis rerum causis, 1548 (known as the Dialogi). " We may smile at the old atoms, and wonder how anyone could be persuaded of them. A number of solid indivisible corpuscles which, by collecting chancewise, have brought to pass the immensity, the variety, the completeness of the manifold of all the adornment of this world. Truly, DEMOCRITUS, could he be with us again, would still, and even more cynically smile, as was his wont, at our supposed elements." SHERRINGTON : The Endeavour of Jean Fernel, II, praefatio, quoted in Sir CHARLES Cambridge, 1946, p. 65. (30) Cf. G. B. STONES: "The Atomic View of Matter in the xvth, xvIth, and In his De sympathia et antipathia, xvIIth Centuries," Isis, o1, I928, 448-9. FRACASTORO wrote, " Antiqui quidem, ut Democritus & Epicurus, quos e nostris Lucretius secutus est, effluxiones corporum, quas Athomos [sic] apellabant; principium eius attractiones panebant... Verutamen receptis Athomorum effluxionibus nos modum alium tradere posse videmur, quo attractio similium fiat: meminisse autem oportet eorum, quae supra dicta sunt de c6sensu & motu partum in toto." Liber I, Caput I, in Opera omnia, Venice, I555, p. 82 verso. The best analysis is C. SINGER: "The Scientific Position of GIROLAMO FRACASTORO"; Annals of Medical History, I, 1917, I-34. (3I) De Revolutionibus; Book I, VI, Quoted from Masterworks of Science, New York, 1947, p. 6o. The Latin text begins, " Queedited by J. W. KNEDLER, mamodum ex adverso in minimis corpusculis ac insectilibus quae atomi vocantur..." See the Thorn edition of I873, p. 19.




The latter part of the sixteenth century saw the development of various purely philosophical systems based upon the atomic theories of antiquity. Particularly important was GIORDANO who did much to make the atomic point of view a familiar BRUNO, one in philosophy, but at the same time increased its unfortunate also served heretical implications (32). The work of TELESIO to spread interest in the philosophical aspects of Epicureanism in the early seventeenth century. There were two basic problems facing those men of the early seventeenth century who accepted an atomic theory. The first was the necessity of reintroducing the ancient theory of matter in a form sufficiently complete to be able to replace the current all-embracing Aristotelianism. This was, as we shall see, the
MAGNEN. The second problem was to adapt the atomic theory to the needs of contemporary physics; that is, to develop a mechanical philosophy and to replace the substantial forms and real qualities of Aristotelian physics with concepts drawn from the newly developed science of mechanics. In this, EPICURUS and LUCRETIUS had each made some advances. For example LUCRETIUSdeclared that the atoms themselves had no colour but that the colour of an aggregate of atoms depended on the size and shape of the individual atoms and their mutual relations (33). Much still remained to be done before anything like a complete mechanical philosophy could be developed. Most of the atomists of the first half of the seventeenth century,

whether followers of DEMOCRITUS, EPICURUS,or PLATO, were what

might be termed Aristotelian or peripatetic atomists. Though they rejected the Aristotelian plenum in favor of a particulate theory of matter, they clung otherwise to Aristotelian theories in natural philosophy. Notably, they failed to explain the properties of bodies in terms of the characteristics of the atoms. They belong to the anti-Aristotelian movement that sprang from Renais(32) For BRUNO'Satomic theories, see STONES: "Atomic
P. 450-51.

View of Matter,"

Oxford (33) LucRErIus: On the Nature of Things, translated by CYRILBAILEY, edition, p. 98 (Book II, lines 703 et. seq.). The atoms were also without heat, Letter sound, taste or smell; Book II, lines 842 et. seq., p. 94f. Cf. EPICURUS: to Herodotus; in Stoic and Epicurean Philosophers, Modem Library edition; p. 7-1 1.



sance humanism, but they were less touched by contemporary developments in science and they failed to shake off completely the scholastic and peripatetic doctrines in which they were trained. This was the case whether they merely revived, as far as they were able, the system of one or another of the ancient atomists,
as HILL did for EPICURUS, or MAGNEN for DEMOCRITUS, or whether, like SENNERT or JUNGIUS, they tried to incorporate atomism into

the new chemical theory of elements. Their role, in which they achieved great success, was to render atomic ideas a familiar part of natural philosophy so that others could make use of an already familiar concept. This is their importance to the history of science. The earliest of these seventeenth century revivers of ancient systems was the Englishman NICHOLAS HILL whose Philosophia Epicurea appeared in 1601; it presented an attempt at a complete physical and philosophical system based upon the doctrines of EPICURUS (34). Numerous other such works, of varying importance, soon followed (35). Of more interest, since it was referred to by many of his contemporaries, is the work of the Frenchman
SEBASTIANBASSO, who in 1621 published the Philosophia naturalis

adversus Aristotelem. This, as its name implies, was a polemical, anti-Aristotelian tract; BASSOleaned heavily upon Platonic atomism, though he also cited the opinions of DEMOCRITUS and ANAXAGORAS(36). BASSO is one of the first to state explicitly that the atoms associate to form corpuscles of varying degrees of complexity (37); this view was generally adopted by seventeenth century atomists when, as here, considering chemical reactions. From the Italian school of atomists may be mentioned the physician CLAUDE BERIGARD who, though a Frenchman, taught philosophy at Pisa and at Padua (38). His Circulus Pisanus is an elaborate, anti-Aristotelian commentary upon ARISTOTLE'S physical works, written in dialogue form. BERIGARD continually
: "NICHOLASHILL and the Philosophia Epicurea "; (34) See GRANTMCCOLLEY Annals of Science, 4, 1939, 390-405. of Leyden whose Exercitationes philosophicae (35) For example, DAVIDGORLAEUS appeared in 1620, and ESTIENNEDE CLAVES. See LASSWITZ : Geschichte der Atomistik, I, 482f. (36) Philosophia naturalis adversus Aristotelem, Geneva, 1621; Lib. I, Art. III,
p. 8-II.

(37) Philosophia naturalis; Intentio III, Art. I, p. 26-8. : " The Atomic View of Matter," p. 457-8. (38) For his career seel STONES



praised DEMOCRITUS; he inclined to a belief in the vacuum (39); and in his commentary upon ARISTOTLE'S De generatione et corand the " corpuscles " ruptione he upheld the atoms of DEMOCRITUS of ANAXAGORAS against the continuous matter of ARISTOTLE (40). But on the whole the work is thoroughly peripatetic in tone. DANIEL SENNERT is an important figure since he was one of the earliest of the chemical atomists, and the founder of the He was an iatrochemist and as such German school of atomism. the in medical atomism of ASCLEPIADES of interested particularly BITHYNIA (41). SENNERT was basically a Democritean atomist and therefore influenced by Aristotelian physics, since the works of ARISTOTLEwere the only source for the views of DEMOCRITUS. SENNERT fully accepted the four Aristotelian elements, which for him existed as atoms of earth, air, fire, and water, capable in turn of combining to form more complicated particles (42). In chemical operations the atoms retained their individuality (43). SENNERT did not attempt to explain the properties of bodies by means of the sizes or shapes of the atoms; he retained the Aristotelian theory of substantial forms, now innate in the individual atoms (44). So although he had a considerable influence in the of the atomic since his works encouraging acceptance theory, were popular, he contributed nothing new to the development of a mechanical philosophy based upon a theory of atoms (45). ROBERT BOYLE, who always referred to him as the "learned
(39) Circulus Pisanus, Utini, 1643; Circulus nonus, De vacuo, p. 57-62. (40) Circulus Pisanus; Circulus VIII, commentary on the De ortu et interitu. "De atomis Democriti," p. 6I-6. (41) For the influences on SENNERTsee LASSWITZ: " Die Erneuerung der Atomistik in Deutschland durch DANIELSENNERT und sein zusammenhang mit ASKLEPIADES von Bithynen " Vierteljahrsschrift fur wissenschaftliche Philosophie; SENNERThimself mentioned GALEN, 3, 1879, 408-34, especially, p. 421-5.

as sources

of atomism. (42) Hypomnemata physica, Lugduni, 1637, p. 85-88. (43) De chymicorumcum Aristotelicis et Galenicis consensu ac dissensu, Wittenberg, 1619, p. 2I2f. " Atomi retinet formas rerum." (44) Hypomnemata physica, p. 102-104: (45) Actually, the De consensu, which is but casually atomic, and SENNERT'S medical works, were better known than the Hypomnemata, which contains the detailed discussion of his atomic theory. See RAMSAUER : Die Atomistik des Daniel Sennert als Ansatz zu einer, deutschartigschauenden Naturforschung und Theorie der Materie im I7. Jahrhundert, Kiel, 1935, p. I7.



Sennertus" invariably regretted his staunch adherence to the doctrine of substantial forms. The German school of atomism which he founded was influential among the representatives of the German alchemical school, particularly JUNGIUS (46). a Frenchman He also had a considerable influence upon MAGNEN, in Italy like BERIGARD, whose Democritus reviviscens was an attempt to present an entire system of Democritean philosophy (47). Like SENNERT, and like all the Democritean atomists, MAGNEN retained many peripatetic theories, in spite of his knowledge of contemporary advances in science (48). MAGNENwas trying to do for
DEMOCRITUS what GASSENDI was concurrently

doing for EPICURUS:

to revive a whole atomic physical and philosophical system. Most famous and most influential of all the revivers of the
atomic systems of antiquity was PIERREGASSENDI. GASSENDI began

as an anti-Aristotelian who saw in the Epicurean theory the possibility of developing a complete non-Aristotelian physical and was the first of the sevenphilosophical system (49). GASSENDI atomism teenth century reintroducers of Greek to reject Aristotelian physics in its entirety and to adopt, as far as the ancients had carried it, a mechanical philosophy to account for the properties of bodies. Except for his complete rejection of the atheistical
doctrines of EPICURUS(50), GASSENDIfollowed Epicurean theories

without much change except of course for his cosmological views. GASSENDI believed in the existence of the vacuum; in the acceptance
see EMILWOHWILL : JOACHIM und die Erneuerung JUNGIUS (46) On JUNGIUS, atomischer Lehren im 17. Jahrhundert "; in Abhandlung aus dem Gebiete der Natur wissenschaftlichen Verein in Hamburg, X, 1887; this contains a translation of the Disputationum de principiis corporum naturalium of 1642, p. 3If, from which
SPERLING, also influenced by SENNERT, see STONES: p. 456. SPERLING'S Institutiones physicae appeared

it appears that JUNGIUS was even more of a scholastic than SENNERT. On JOHANNES " The Atomic View of Matter,"

in I647. (47) J. C. MAGNENUS : Democritus reviviscens sive de atomis, Leyden, 1648 (first published in 1646); this mentions SENNERT in the dedication and in many places in the text. (48) MAGNEN refers to many of the more prominent scientists of the early
seventeenth century; he cited GALILEO'S work on air, p. 42I.

(49) This was the work of some twenty yeais; in a letter to PEIRESC of i626 he announced his intention of trying to restore the reput?tion of EPICURUS.See BERNARD ROCHOT : Les travaux de Gassendi sur Epicure et sur l'atomisme 16i9-I658, 1944, P. 30. (50) See, especially, Syntagma philosophicum, pars secunda seu physica, lib. III, cap. V-VII; Opera omnia, Florentiae, 1727, t. I.



of this concept he was helped by the fact that, unlike DESCARTES, he did not believe that matter was synonymous with extension. For GASSENDI, matter was characterized by " solidity, hardness, An resistance, impenetrability" as well as by extension (5i). atom was not a mathematical point, but a physical entity, endowed with magnitude, figure and weight, indivisible because it was absolutely solid, that is, contained no vacuum (52). GASSENDI, in marked contrast to other atomists, never mentioned substantial forms but tried to account for the properties of bodies in terms of the characteristics of the atoms, iheir size and shape. Heat was caused by calorific atoms, small, round and in rapid motion; a body felt hot when it emitted these heat atoms either because other atoms came to take their place and drove them out, or because the body or its individual atoms were violently agitated (53). It is obvious that for GASSENDI heat was not a mode of motion, though he did make provision for the fact, well known to seventeenth century physics, that mechanical agitation could produce heat. Fire was, he thought, merely the result of the aggregation of a very great number of heat atoms (54)Light was not the same as fire but was composed of very subtle particles, moving very rapidly (55). Cold was not a mere privation of heat but was caused by frigorific atoms, pyramidal, with sharp points which accounted for the pricking sensation felt when cold objects were touched (56). Fluids were composed of loosely joined atoms, touching in only a few points (57); solids were composed of particles which touched on all sides and were interlaced by means of hooks (58). GASSENDI'S system soon came to typify Epicurean thought. By his attempts at a thorough explanation of the properties of bodies,
BERNIER: AbregJ de la philosophie de Gassendi, second edition, (51) FRANCOIS Lyon, I684; t. II, livre I, chap. IX, p. 104. (52) Abrege, II, 127. (53) Abrege, III, 95-8. (54) Abregd, III, o09. (55) Abrege, III, 209. Though the atoms of heat and light were in rapid motion, this seems not to have had any influence upon their properties; all atoms were in constant motion; these atoms were smaller than most, and hence probably could move more quickly. (56) Abrege, III, I14-34, especially p. 131. (57) Abregi, III, 135. (58) Abrege, III, 139-40.



by the weight of his reputation as an astronomer and mathematician, but still more by the extensive thoroughness of his system, he had far more influence than any of the other revivers of ancient
atomism. In England, WALTER CHARLETON,physician and later

a member of the Royal Society, published in 1654 the Physiologia Epicuro-Gassendo-Charletoniana, whose contents seems to be sufficiently indicated by its subtitle : A Fabrick of Science Natural, upon the Hypothesis of Atoms, Founded by Epicurus, Repaired by Petrus Gassendus, Augmented by Walter Charleton; it closely
followed the doctrines and arguments of GASSENDI(59). GASSENDI'S

influence in England was strong enough so that as late as 1687 there could appear A New Treatise of Natural Philosophy based
on the doctrines of GASSENDI. The author, ROBERT MIDGELY,

rejected the Aristotelian, the Cartesian, and the chemical elements in favor of the atoms and void of GASSENDI. There was a considerable school of atqmists in England, though
by no means all of them followers of GASSENDI. BOYLE on more

than one occasion referred to the fact that his scientific associates were either atomists or Cartesians (60). The most famous English
Epicurean was undoubtedly
THOMAS HOBBES; but he, although

he believed that matter had parts, was not an atomist in any real sense, for he denied both indivisible atoms and the void. His reputation as an Epicurean was based upon his undoubtedly materialistic philosophy, not upon his physics (6I).

Another and quite distinct source of ancient atomism was HERO

OF ALEXANDRIA'S Pneumatica which helped to link the science of

CHARLETON (59) See STONES: "The Atomic View of Matter," p. 462-5. imitated GASSENDI SOfar that in I656 he translated Epicurus's Morals into English. (60) Cf. Physiological Essays, published in i66i : " some of those learned men for whom I was to write, more favouring the Epicurean, and others (though but a few) being more inclinable to the Cartesian opinions." Works, I, 355. (6I) This is also the view of BASILWILLEY: The Seventeenth Century Backin rejecting atoms and ground, 1934; chapter VI (93- i8) is on HOBBES. HOBBES the vacuum retained particles of matter, like most of the later seventeenth century scientists. See Elements of Philosophy, MOLESWORTH'S English edition, vol. I, esp. 414-25, and 426f. for the properties of bodies. For an analysis of his views on cohesion, see E. C. MILLINGTON: Studies in Cohesion from DEMOCRITUS to LAPLACE "; Lychnos, Ix44-5, p. 64.



pneumatics with particulate theories of matter (62). The Pneumatica was extraordinarily popular after its first publication in 1575 and served to disseminate a non-Lucretian atomic theory in which the properties of bodies were explained by assuming the presence of small amounts of vacuum interspersed between the particles (not atoms) of bodies. Many scientists opposed to atomism accepted the undefined particles and interspersed vacuum
of HERO; MERSENNE is a typical and important example (63). GASSENDI combined with Heronic concepts Epicurean (64); FRANCISBACONcoupled HERO'Sparticles and discontinuous vacuum

with the atoms and void of DEMOCRITUS; and GALILEO'S ideas on atoms and the vacuum were strongly influenced by HERO.
ISAAC BEECKMAN, the Dutch scientist and friend of DESCARTES, mentioned HERO a number of times in his Journal and accepted

both HERO's interspersed vacuum and his explanation of transparent

bodies as those with large enough vacua between the particles to admit the (corporeal) particles of light (65). The theory of
matter held by VAN HELMONT is of peculiar interest because of his wide influence on later chemists, particularly ROBERT BOYLE.

Though he does not mention



in the Ortus Medicinae (I648)

on the nature of air and its compressibility are very similar to those of HERO. His conclusion was that " the

air hath pores, or little holes" which might contain foreign particles as of some " gas " (itself particulate) but which might be truly empty (66); this theory was widely held in the seventeenth
(62) For the transmission of the Pneumatica, its editions and its influence on the spread of pneumatic theories and devices, see my article " HERO'S Pneumatica: A Study of its Transmission and Influence "; Isis, 40, 1949, 38-48. LENOBLE: (63) For MERSENNE'S generally anti-atomistic attitude, see ROBERT Mersenne ou la naissance du mecanisme, 1944, 418-19; and Correspondance du P. Marin Mersenne, edited by CORNELIS DE WAARD,I (1932), I33, 147 (notes by DE WAARD). (64) These are not particularly noted in BERNIER'S Abre'ge, though cf. II, 134, and chapters IX and XIV. For specific reference to HEROsee GASSENDI : Syntagma, sectio I, liber II, cap. II and III in Opera omnia, Florence, I727; I, 166, 172, interest in the Heronic vacuum is amply discussed by LASSWITZ: 176. GASSENDI's Geschichte der Atomistik, II, 139-42. (65) Journal tenu par Isaac Beeckman de I604 a 1634, edited by CORNELIS DE WAARD,3 volumes, I939-45. See especially vol. I, passim. For his theory of light cf. DE WAARD:L'experience barometrique, 86. (66) See Oriatrike or Physick Refined, I662 (English translation by FRANCIS MERCURY VAN HELMONT),chapter XV, paragraphs io, 14 and 17. Cf. also



century. HERO'S theory of matter was thus blended with true atomic theories by seventeenth century scientists into the basic structure of particulate theories.

IV. -


The men discussed in the preceding chapter, who brought to the attention of the seventeenth century the ancient theories of atomism, are of importance to the history of science because they prepared the ground for the development of a true physical atomism, one that could and would explain the physical properties of bodies by means of the characteristics of the component particles. By their acceptance of the idea that matter was particulate and by their detailed discussions of the possible physical character of the atoms they made the problem thoroughly familiar to physical thinkers. The very fact that their atomism was, in most cases, combined with an otherwise Aristotelian view of physics and chemistry made their theories of matter more acceptable to the ordinary scientist and more readily comprehensible. They served to create a climate of opinion in which the mechanical philosophy could develop along purely physical lines, relatively unhindered by the more metaphysical problems of atomism. By the mid-seventeenth century there was no longer any conceptual difficulty involved in the acceptance of small particles, invisible, imperceptible to the touch, uniting to form a visible, tangible, solid body. In this the contemporary development of the microscope was of great psychological value; the fact that tiny, almost invisible living creatures like the mite had been shown to be as complex organisms as far bigger animals, made it seem entirely probable that inanimate objects should also be composed of very many small parts; these atoms might even, it was hoped, become visible under sufficiently powerful microscopes (67).
uses the word " atoms" only in the chapters VIII, XII, XIII, XIV. HELMONT sense of gross particles on some occasions, which adds to the confusion. For his particulate theory see J. B. PARTINGTON: " JOANBAPTISTA VANHELMONT "; Annals of Science, I, 1938, 359-84, which, however, does not suggest any possible sources. and became a commonplace in (67) This comparison was used by GASSENDI, seventeenth century physical writings. See BERNIER:Abrege de Gissendi; II,



GASSENDI had attempted to discard Aristotelian explanations and to substitute the size and shape of the atoms for peripatetic forms and qualities; in this however he had followed quite closely the explanations offered by EPICURUS and LUCRETIUS, with the minimum of modification. The explanations of classical antiquity were, however, no longer really suitable in the seventeenth century with its new scientific knoweldge. The recent advances in science had begun to demand more sophisticated explanations than the could, without modification, concepts of DEMOCRITUS and EPICURUS he used some provide. GASSENDI, though experimental evidence

to confirm his belief in atoms, did not make any fundamental change in approach. It is doubtless for this reason that he had far more followers in literary-philosophical than in purely scientific circles, and that his system never competed except briefly on an equal basis with Cartesian physics.
The explanations of DEMOCRITUS and of EPICURUS, as far as

they went, were " mechanical" because they explained the properties of matter on the basis of the size and shape of the atoms. But though GASSENDI, like the ancients, assumed that the atoms were in motion, he never attempted to explain any of the properties of bodies in terms of variation of this motion. If such variations in motion of the particles are considered, it is possible to account far more simply and completely for the properties of bodies than if only the size and shape of the atoms are considered. The first attempts at a dynamic mechanical one philosophy, explaining the properties of bodies by means of motion as well as matter, were made in the early seventeenth
chap. IX, p. 144-50. Cf. BACON'S praise of the microscope in the Novum Organum, Book II, Aphorism xxxix, " For the microscope... is only available for minute had seen one, he would perhaps have leaped for objects; so that if DEMOCRITUS joy, thinking a way was now discovexed of discerning the atom, which he had declared to be altogether invisible." BACON'S Works, Ellis, Spedding and Heath The microscopist HENRY POWERwas convinced that edition; VIII, 271-2. microscopes did reveal the particles of bodies: " Herein we can see what the illustrious wits of the Atomical and Corpuscularian Philosophers durst but imagine, even the very Atoms and their reputed Indivisibles and least realities of Matter." Experimental Philosophy... Containing New Experiments, Microscopal, Mercurial, Magnetical, London, I664, Preface. This influence of the microscope is barely mentioned in the otherwise admirable work of MARJORIE NICOLSON: "The Microscope and English Imagination," Smith College Studies in Modern Languages, XVI, no. 4; see p. 83-4.



century by three men, GALILEO, BEECKMAN, and FRANCIS BACON,

all quite independently (68). GALILEO'S theory of the structure of matter was basically Heronic in character. But GALILEO went far beyond HERO in his concept of the cause of secondary qualities, the physical properties of bodies. Light and fire he believed to be corporeal,
as both HERO and DEMOCRITUS had done.
HERO had discussed

the ability of fire to penetrate all but the hardest bodies, those with the fewest and finest pores, and in penetrating bodies to liquefy them. GALILEO believed that the power of fire to liquefy bodies was the result of the break-down of the cohesive force of the interspersed vacua by the penetration of the fire particles. Substances became fluid, as he put it, " in virtue of being resolved into their infinitely small indivisible components" (69). For he thought that the atoms of a solid were held together by the attractive force exerted by the vacua between particles, so that when the attractive force was overcome the particles were free to move and the substance became liquid. As he summarized it,
" The extremely fine particles of fire, penetrating the slender pores of the metal... fill the small intervening vacua, and ... set free these small particles from the attraction which these same vacua exert upon them and which prevents their separation. Thus the particles are able to move freely so that the mass becomes fluid and remains so long as the particles of fire remain inside; but if they depart and leave the former vacua, then the original attraction returns and the parts are again cemented together " (70).

The idea that motion of the particles of matter might influence the properties of a substance is new in physical explanations. GALILEO also introduced motion in connection with light, in so far as light was a source of heat. For when SAGREDO asked,
" But now, with regard to the surprising effect of solar rays in melting metals, must we deduce that such a furious action is devoid of motion or that it is accompanied by the most rapid of motions?" SALVIATI answered, "We observe that other combustions and resolutions are accompanied by motion, read BACON'S Novum Organum, but his ideas were fixed before (68) BEECKMAN i620. For the somewhat meagre relations between GALILEO and BACON,see JEANPELSENEER: et DESCARTES: "GILBERT, BACON,GALILEO, KEPLER,HARVEY leurs relations "; Isis, 17, 1932, I7I-208. (69) Two New Sciences, Crew and de Salvio translation, p. 39. (70) Two New Sciences, p. I9. Cf. II Saggiatore; in Opere (National Edition); VI, p. 351.




and that the most rapid; note the action of lightening and of powder as used in mines and petards; note also how the charcoal flame, mixed as it is with heavy and impure vapors, increases its power to liquify metals whenever quickened by a pair of bellows. Hence I do not understand how the action of light, although very pure, can be devoid of motion and that of the swiftest type " (7I). GALILEO was here thinking primarily in terms of the velocity of light; but he had already set forth his theory of heat as a mode of motion in his famous discussion of primary and secondary qualities, in the Saggiatore (72). There he outlined, though briefly, a true mechanical philosophy, basing all the secondary qualities of bodies upon the size, shape and motion of the particles. As he wrote, "But that external bodies, to excite in us these tastes, these odours, and these sounds, demand other than size, figure, number, and slow or rapid motion, I do not believe; ... and turning to my first proposition in this place, having now seen that many affections which are reputed to be qualities residing in the external object, have truly no other existence than in us, and without us are nothing else than names; I say that I am inclined sufficiently to believe that heat is of this kind, and that the thing that produces heat in us and makes us perceive it, which we call by the general name fire, is a multitude of minute corpuscles thus and thus figured, moved with such and such a velocity" (73).

He carefully noted besides that the presence of fire particles (gl'ignicoli) was not enough to cause heat, but that motion was required as well (74). GALILEO here clearly envisaged a world constructed of matter and motion; matter divided into atoms, indivisible particles, which by their size, shape and motion produce the properties of bodie3 as we perceive them. Matter alone was not enough; motion also was required. GALILEO, the founder of the science of dynamics, is here clearly carrying his concept of a dynamic macroscopic world into the microscopic world of atoms. Just as he visualized the macroscopic world as composed of bodies moving according to mathematical laws, so apparently he saw that the properties
(71) Two New Sciences, p. 40-41. : The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science, (72) See E. A. BURTT 1949, chapter III, p. 16-95; this includes a translation of some of the relevant passages. See also Opere, VI, 347-52. (73) BURTT: Metaphysical Foundations, p. 78. (74) Opere, VI, 35I. But motion alone would not cause heat: "Perche, dunque, ad eccitare il caldo non basta la presenza de gl'ignicoli, ma ci vuol il lor movimento ancora, quindi pare a me che non fusse se non con gran ragione detto, il moto esser causa di calore."



of bodies could be explained in terms of minute bodies still perhaps moving according to mathematical laws, as he said, " minute corpuscles, thus and thus figured, moved with such and such a velocity."

no systematic


of scientific

writing, and his ideas on the structure of matter must be gathered from the notes in the Journal which he kept from 1604 to I634. His only published work was his thesis for the M.D. at Caen; this was on the subject of tertian fevers with the addition of interesting though irrelevant theses which he was prepared to defend. Two of these deal with the problem of atoms and the vacuum: " Aqua suctu sublata non attrahitur vi vacui, sed ab aere incumbente in locum vacuum impellitur " and " Est vacuum rebus intermixtum " (75). Yet through his correspondence and through personal contact, BEECKMAN had a great influence on his scientific contemporaries. GASSENDI knew him and praised him for his scientific ideas (76). Even more important was his influence on DESCARTES, whom he started on the road to natural philosophy and who was extremely indebted to him (77). BEECKMANbelieved in the existence of the vacuum as early as 1613; further, he believed that the pressure of the atmosphere was the cause of suction (78). His earliest discussions of atomism date from 1616; he was principally influenced by HERO but he also read LUCRETIUS, BASSO, DEMOCRITUS, and GALEN. BEECKMAN believed that there were four kinds of atoms, each of a different figure, corresponding to the four Aristotelian elements; these four kinds of atoms combined to form all the known substances (79). The atoms corresponding to fire he thought of as a kind of ether
: L'expe(75) The first and last pages of the thesis are reproduced in DEWAARD rience barometrique, p. 78-9. : Les travaux de Gassendi, p. 36-7. GASSENDI wrote to PEIRESC (76) See ROCHOT of meeting in Holland " le sieur BEECKMAN, le meilleur philosophe que j'aye encore rencontre." Letter of 21 juillet I629, in Lettres de Peiresc, ed. TAMIZEY DE LARROQUE, IV, p. 201. (77) See P. MouY: Le developpement de la physique cartesienne, 1934, p. I-5; and CHARLES ADAM: Vie et oeuvres de Descartes, vol. 12 of 1Euvresde Descartes, Adam-Tannery edition, p. 45-6. (78) Journal tenu par Isaac Beeckman de 1604 d 1634; I, 23. See also I, 200: "Aer incumbens est causa fugae vacui." " Figurae atomorum sunt quatuor." Cf. (79) Journal, I, 152-3 (I6I6-I8); Journal, III, 138 (1629): " Atomi sunt quatuor generum."




or subtle matter; this was to be found everywhere, always in motion; it accounted for the gravity of bodies (80).
BEECKMAN did not believe in peripatetic " essences " or

substantial forms; he thought that the properties of bodies could be sufficiently explained by the characteristics of the component atoms (8i). Thus he noted, " Wet and dry reside in the shape of the atoms " (82). It was, however, not merely the shape of the atoms which accounted for their characteristics; the atoms were in motion, as the Epicureans believed; but unlike the Epicureans, BEECKMANbelieved that the variation in the motion of the atoms could explain some of the properties of the bodies which the atoms made up. He wrote," Therefore all properties arise from motion, shape and size, so that each of these three things must be considered " (83). Heat was caused by the motion of fire within the body (84), and cold was a mere absence of heat. Fire itself was material and composed of atoms (85). This is certainly a true mechanical philosophy, based upon
(80) Journal, I, 25 f. (I613-I4); I, 381-2 (1626-7). Cf. DE WAARD : L'experience

barometrique, p. 86-7. (8I) " Essentiae etiam ex atomis immediate fiunt." Journal, II, 83 (1620). "Nec tamen necesse est hasce essentias ex elementis mixtis componi, cum ex ipsis atomis immediate multa possint nasci, imo ipsa elementa inter se mixta possint solvi in suas atomos naturamque elementi deponere, ita ut compositum potius ex indivisibilibus principijs quam ex elementis constet. Calor autem et frigus etc. sunt duntuxat affectiones corporis sententis a corpusculorum varietate impressae, sicut ante saepius audivisces; non vero ijs est natura quaedam incorporea, atque idcirco incomprehensibilis." (82) Journal, I, 216 (i618) "Sicca enim sunt acuminata, humida ad rotunditatem accedunt suntque sphaeroeideis magis quam humida. Utrumque tamen genus admodum differt a se ipso efficcacia aptitudineque, cum motum acquirit, pro tenuitate et crassitie." (83) Journal, I, 216 (i618). Cf. Journal, II, 198 (1622): " Ignis non est absque motu." (84) " Caloris et frigoris natura constat in motu majore et minore." Journal, I, 216 (1618): " Caloris et frigoris natura videtur consistere in motu, ita ut id, quod ceterius est motum, sit calidius; frigidissima vero non longe abstant a quiete. Attamen efficacissimum est in unoquoque genere quod tenuis. Sic valde frigidum tenuis est materiae, quae parvo motu penetrat." Cf. Journal, III, 239 (1633): "Calol enim est ignis motus." (85) " Ignis minimum non est atomus sed homogeneum ex atomis compositum." Journal, II, 96 (x620). "Impraesentiuarum autem sciendum est ignem purum non esse atomorum (non enim atomos in aere ascenderet, quia ubique corpore plenus est ideoque gravia), sed ignis minimae particula composita est ex multis atomis, ita junctis ut multum inter eas."



motion as well as matter. It is perhaps significant that BEECKMAN, like GALILEO, was interested in problems of dynamics, though he was far less successful than GALILEO in discovering the laws of motion (86). It seems almost certain that it was from BEECKMAN that DESCARTES obtained the inspiration and the foundation for his own mechanical philosophy.
FRANCIS BACON is not always regarded as an atomist because

of his protest in the Novum Organum

"Hence it is that men cease not from abstracting nature till they come to potential and uninformed matter, nor on the other hand from dissecting nature till they reach the atom; things which, even if true, can do but little for the welfare of mankind" (87).

But BACON was here merely pleading, it seems certain, against a purely speculative atomism, not based upon sound physical reasoning; he had already in the earlier part of the work praised the " atoms of LEUCIPPUS and DEMOCRITUS" as more useful to natural philosophy than the physical theories of ARISTOTLE (88); and there is abundant evidence elsewhere in the Novum Organum and in many of the minor treatises that he did believe the atomic theory to be true. The fable of CUPID was intended to indicate the importance of the atomic theory; here, it should be noted, BACON pointed out that matter was not inert, but contained " the principle of motion in itself," a notion he was to develop more The Cogitationes de natura rerum is entirely fully later (89). concerned with the problem of atoms and the vacuum; it begins, significantly, " The doctrine of DEMOCRITUS concerning atoms is either true, or useful for demonstration" (90). BACON clearly devoted a considerable amount of thought to the atomic nature of matter. But more important and probably more influential were his suggestions for a mechanical theory of matter. As early as I605, in the Advancement of Learning, BACON
(86) See A. KoYRP: " La loi de la chute des corps. GALIL.Eet DESCARTES "; Revue philosophique, 1937, 149-204. (87) Aphorism lxvi; BACON'S Works, Ellis, Spedding and Heath edition, VIII, : " Origins of the Atomic Theory "; Annals of Science, 4, 1939, 97. PARTINGTON had completely repudiated the 262, believes on this statement alone that BACON idea of the atomic nature of matter. (88) Aphorism lxiii; BACON'S Works, VIII, 9I-2. (89) BACON'S Works, X, 352. (90) BACON'S Works, II, 287.



proposed as one of the more immediate problems of physics the " discovery of forms," that is, in modern terms, the investigation and explanation of the properties of bodies. But, as he noted,
" This part of Metaphysique I do not find laboured and performed: whereat I marvel not: because I hold it not possible to be invented by that course of invention which hath been used; in regard that men, which is the root of all error, have made too untimely a departure and too remote a recess from particulars " (9I).

This part of science, like the rest of science, should be based upon experiment; if it were, it would contribute much to the development of natural philosophy. In the Novum Organum BACONdeveloped this idea of the discovery of forms in considerable detail. The inquiry was to rest upon particulate matter, not the atoms of the philosophers,
but " real particles, such as really exist" (92). BACON used as

an example of his method the " form of heat," as the scholastics called it, partly to demonstrate his method of scientific induction, but partly also to illustrate the kinds of things that should be investigated. His conclusion, well known indeed, was that heat is a mode of motion, or, as he defined it, " Heat is a motion, expansive, restrained, and acting in its strife upon the smaller particles of bodies" (93). Heat could be caused by mechanical agitation of the body, as by attrition (94) or by the force of a hammer blow (95). Throughout, there is a very clear notion indeed of heat as a motion of the particles tout court; there is no mention of fire particles or heat particles, As he carefully said,
"For heat does not diffuse itself, in heating a body, by communication of the original heat, but simply by exciting the parts of the body to that motion which is the Form of heat " (96).
(9I) BACON'S Works, VI, 221. (92) Book II, aphorism viii; BACON'S Works, VIII, I77.

Cf. Book II, aphorism III: " But whosoever is acquainted with Forms, emblaces the unity of nature in substances most unlike... From the discovery of Forms therefore results truth in speculation and freedom in operation." When (93) Book II, aphorism viii; BACON'S Works, VIII, 217. Cf. p. 211: I say of Motion that it is as the genus of which heat is a species, I would be understood to mean, not that heat generates motion or that motion generates heat (though both are true in certain cases), but that Heat itself, its essence and quiddity, is Motion and nothing else." (94) Book II, aphorism xii, 22, p. I89-9o. (95) Book II, aphorism xiii, 31, p. 200. (96) Book II, aphorism xlviii, p. 318.



Though the method of expression is still scholastic, the ideas behind the words are clearly far removed from peripatetic substantial or innate forms. BACON never worked out in detail the explanation of other physical properties of bodies in terms of matter and motion though he did advance some suggestions, less fruitful perhaps than his theory of heat, but nontheless of interest. Thus he thought that the Form of Whiteness was purely the result of the state of the particles of the body which appeared white. As he put it,
bodies entirely even in the particles which affect vision ale transparent, bodies simply uneven are white, bodies uneven and in a compound yet regular texture are all colours except black; while bodies uneven and in a compound, irregular, and confused texture are black" (97).

Putrefaction BACON explained in terms simply of the agitation of the particles (98). The loadstone, he thought, magnetized iron by giving it "a new disposition in its parts and a conformable motion " (99). In fact the whole of the long aphorism on Instances of Strife is devoted to a discussion of the various kinds of motion which can affect a body (ioo). He talked much of sympathy and antipathy and consent; but here again he was merely borrowing terms from the scholastic philosophy he so disliked; for he did not think that these terms offered any real explanation. They were but words behind which must lie mechanical explanations. As he said,
" What are called occult and specific properties, or sympathies and antipathies, are in great part corruptions of philosophy. Nor can we have much hope of discovering the consents of things before the discovery of Forms and Simple Configurations. For consent is nothing else than the adaptation of Forms and Simple Configurations to each other " (Ior).

thus posed many of the problems that were to be solved the seventeenth by century atomists. He proposed the examination of Forms, their explanation in terms of both matter and motion. He rejected not only the innate forms and qualities of Aristotelian physics, but also the occult attractions and sympathies so popular
BACON (97) Book II, aphorism xxiii; BACON'S Works, VIII, 222. (98) Book II, aphorism xlviii, p. 311-12. (99) Book II, aphorism xlviii, p. 318. (ioo) Book II, aphorism xlviii, p. 302-28.
(iox) Book II, aphorishn i, 342.



among the chemists. His influence was of particular importance for the work of the English school of scientists, saturated in Baconian ideas. As we shall see, it was from BACON that BOYLE derived the fundamental problems which he set out to attack.

V. -


No analysis of seventeenth century theories of matter would be complete without some discussion of the theory advanced by DESCARTES and widely accepted by many important scientists and philosophers. The Cartesian theory was not strictly atomic; it differed both physically and metaphysically from the Epicurean, Democritean and Heronic theories being revived and developed. Iowever this theory was equally far removed from the Aristotelianism of the schools; for DESCARTESadvocated a mechanical philosophy and though he believed in a plenum, it was a particulate plenum and hence fundamentally akin to atomism (102). DESCARTES shows distinct signs of having been influenced by the revival of atomism in the early years of the century (103); and he was most clearly influenced by BEECKMAN, both by the latter's views on the nature of matter and by his mechanical philosophy. As is well known, DESCARTES defined matter in terms of extension, so that for him there could be no such thing as " empty space." As he described it,
" la nature de la matiere, ou du corps pris en general, ne consiste point en ce qu'il est une chose dure, ou pesante, ou coloree, ou qui touche nos sens de quelque
(Io2) For the kinship between Cartesian and atomic theories see P. MOUY: Le developpement de la physique cartesienne (I646-I712), 1934, chapter I, esp. PROST : Essai sur l'atomisme et l'occasionalisme dans la philosophie p. 28; and JOSEPH cartesienne, 1907, esp. p. 18-21. has noted that DESCARTES' (103) LASSWITZ particulate theory was developed between 1619 (when he was still Aristotelian in his theory of matter) and 1629, when he talked definitely of particulate matter. Since it was during this period that the works of SENNERT,BASSO,BACON,D'ESPAGNET and others appeared, LASswITz believes that DESCARTESmust have been strongly influenced by this intensive revival of atomism; see " Zur Genesis der Cartesischen Corpuscularphysik," Vierteljahrsschriftfur wissenschaftliche Philosophie, X, 1886, 166-189, esp. 173-4. DESCARTES certainly knew of these men, many of whom he mentions; see C. ADAM: Vie de Descartes; (Euvres de Descartes, Adam-Tannery edition. XII, 3I and 83. But the main influence of this atomism was undoubtedly its effect upon BEECKMAN, who transmitted it to DESCARTES.



autre facon, mais seulement en ce qu'il est une substance etendue en longueur, largeur & profondeur... Sa nature consiste en cela seul, qu'il est une substance qui a de l'estension " (104).

If matter is identical with extension, then wherever there is space there must be matter and there can be no vacuum (I05). As he explained the problem to MERSENNEinformally and in common sense vein,
" Si vous voulez concevoir que Dieu oste tout l'air qui est dans une chambre, sans remettre aucun autre cors en sa place, il faut par mesme moyen que vous conceviez que les murailles de cete chambre se viennent joindre, ou bien il y aura de la contradiction en vostre pensee. Car tout de mesme qu'on ne scauroit imaginer qu'il applanisse toutes les montagnes de la terre, & que, nonobstant cela, il y laisse toutes les vallees, ainsy ne peut-on penser qu'il oste toute sorte de cors, & que, nonobstant, il laisse de 1'espace, a cause que 1'idee que nous avons du cors, ou de la matiere en general, est comprise en celle que nous avons de l'espace, a scavoir que c'est une chose qui est longue, large & profonde" (Io6).

So for DESCARTES the world was full of matter, and no vacuum was possible. This matter was divisible and was, consequently, broken down by means of motion into a great number of small particles, so small as to be imperceptible to the senses (107). Under the influence of motion these particles formed aggregates
or bodies. summed it up in the Principles of Philosophy DESCARTES

as follows:
" il n'y a donc qu'une mesme matiere en tout l'univers, & nous la connoissons par cela seul qu'elle est estendue; pource que toutes les proprietez que nous appercevons distinctement en elle, se raportent a ce qu'elle peut estre divisee & meue selon ses parties, & qu'elle peut recevoir toutes les diverses dispositions que nous remarquons pouvoir arriver par le mouvement de ses parties " (io8).
(104) Principles of Philosophy (published in 1644 in Latin as Principia philosophiae), Part II, section 4; (Euvres de Descartes, Adam Tannery edition, IX, 65. All quotations from this edition. Cf. Part II, section I9, " car la grandeur des parties dont un corps est compose ne depend point de la pesanteur ou de la durete que nous sentons a son occasion... mais seullement de l'estendue." IX, 73. (105) Principles; Part II, section i6; (Euvres, IX, 71. (io6) (Euvres de Descartes, II, 482; Letter CLIV dated 9 January 1639. (I07) Cf. Le Monde; (Euvres de Descartes, XI, 12 : " pensez que chaque corps peut estre divise en des parties extremement petites. Je ne veut point determiner si leur nombre est infiny ou non; mais du moins il est certain, qu'a l'egard de nostre connoissance il est indefiny, & que nous pouvons supposer, qu'il y en a plusieurs millions dans le moindre petit grain de sable qui puisse estre apperfu de nos yeux." Cf. also Principles, part II, section 20: " Qu'il ne peut y avoir aucuns atomes ou petits corps indivisibles "; CEuvres, IX, 74. (xo8) Principles, Part II, section 23; CEuvresde Descartes, IX, 75. Cf. Part II, section 34: " Toutefois it faut avouer qu'il y a quelque chose en ce mouvement




In spite of their definite sizes and shapes, these particles were not atomic, since they were always, however small, divisible:
" Mais, affin que vous recevies toutes ces suppositions avec moins de difficulte, scaches que je ne convoy pas les petites parties des cors terrestres comme des atomes ou particules indivisibles, mais que, lesjugeant toutes d'une mesme matiere, je croy que chascune pourroit estre redivisee en une infinite de facons, & qu'elles ne different entre elles que comme des pierres de plusieurs diverses figures, qui auroient este couppees d'un mesme rocher" (IO9).

DESCARTES,for all his staunch anti-Aristotelianism, never forgot his scholastic training; and he was extremely careful, as here, to point out that he was avoiding just those aspects of atomism, the vacuum and indivisible particles, that the men of. his age in general found difficult conceptually. The Cartesian particulate matter was differentiated, by its method of formation, into three classes: the third element, or terrestrial matter, corresponding to Earth; the second element, the celestial or subtle matter, corresponding to Air; and the first element, composed of chips from. the formation of the other elements, which corresponded to Fire (Iio). Terrestrial matter, that which composed the main bulk of ordinary bodies, was made up of relatively large particles, infinitely divisible in theory but generally of certain determined shapes, with interstices between the parts. These interstices were not empty but were filled as far as possible by the second element, the subtle matter. This subtle matter was also composed of particles, generally round and swiftly moving. Within the interstices which then necessarily existed between the particles of the second element were to be found particles of the first element. Though the first element was also particulate, there was no vacuum between these particles, because they moved so swiftly and were so soft and flexible that they could not be said to have any determinate shape. They consequently adapted themselves to the size and shape of the
que nostre ame concoit estre vray, mais que neantmoins elle ne scauroit comprendre: h scavoir une division de quelques parties de la matiere jusques a l'infiny, ou bien une division indefinie, & qui se fait en tant de parties, que nous n'en scaurions determiner de la pensee aucune si petite, que nous ne concevions qu'elle est divisee en effet en d'autres plus petites." (Euvres de Descartes, IX, 82. (xog) Les Meteores; (Euvres de Descartes, VI, 238-9. (I o) Principles, Part III, section 52; " Qu'il y a trois principaux elemens du monde visible "; (Euvres, IX, 128-9. See also Le Monde; (Euvres, XI, 24-5 and Les Mete'ores; (Euvres, VI, 233-4.



pores of the subtle matter, so that all matter was thus ultimately continuous (i I I). These three elements were composed of the same kind of matter; it was mainly the size and motion of the particles which determined the nature of the element which they composed, so that the elements could be transformed one into another (112). The first element was all pervasive; since it served to prevent a vacuum, it was necessarily always present within the pores of the second eleYet in a discussion of purely terrestrial physics it ment(13). could be taken for granted without explicit discussion; it was to avoid unnecessary complication that DESCARTES thus ignored it in the Essays annexed to the Discourse on Method (I14). The particles of the third element, by their size and shape (but not weight) determined the nature of the matter of which they were part; it was the quantity, size and motion of the particles of the second element that determined the specific physical properties of the body. The second element, the matiere subtile, later more commonly called the ether, played a central role in Cartesian physics. For it was the motion of the subtle matter that caused the motfon of the particles of the third element (II5). Since all matter was originally uniform, transformation of one element into another was a constant possibility, and was, in fact,
Cf. (I I) Principles, Part III, section 87; (Euvres de Descartes, IX, I25f. Letter CLIV to MERSENNE, 9 January 1639, " Je vous diray donc que j'imagine, ou plustost que je trouve par demonstration, qu'outre la matiere qui compose les cors terrestres, il y en a de 2 sortes: l'une fort subtile dont les patties sont rondes;... l'autre incomparablement plus subtile que celle la, & dont les parties sont si petites, & se meuvent si viste, qu'elles n'ont aucune figure arestee, mais prenent sans difficulte a chasque moment celle qui est requise pour remplir tous les petits intervales que les autres cors n'occupent point." (Euvres, II, 483. (II2) Principles, Part IV, section 6; (Euvres, IX, 204. (113) Principles, Part IV, section 25; " Et afin de ne rien oublier, il faut prendre garde que, par la matiere celeste ou subtile, je n'entends pas seulement celle du second element, mais aussi ce qu'il y a du premier mesle entre ses parties." 'Euvres de Descartes, IX, 213. (I 14) Discours de la Methode... plus La Dioptrique, Les Meteores, et La Geometrie. Qui sont des essais de cete Methode, (Euvres, VI. Cf. Letter CLIV, to MERSENNE, 9 January I639, " J'ay omis cy devant a vous mander ce que je croy qui empesche le vuide entre les parties de la matiere subtile, a cause que je ne le pouvois expliquer qu'en parlant d'une autre matiere ties subtile, dont je n'ay voulu faire aucune mention en mes Essais, affin de la reserver toute pour mon Monde." (uvres, II, 483. (i 15) Principles, Part I, section 23; (Euvres, IX, 75f.



of common occurrence. As DESCARTES noted, " Si la Matiere subtile ne se mouvoit point, elle cesseroit d'estre Matiere subtile, & seroit un cors dur & terrestre " (116); and " Je croy... qu'il y a continuellement quelques parties des cors terrestres qui se convertist en Matiere subtile, & vice versa" (II7). Motion of the particles had a very great importance in determining the properties of a body; as DESCARTES said, " Toute la diversite des formes qui s'y rencontrent depend du mouvement local" ( 18). Following the line marked out by BEECKMAN, DESCARTES hoped to explain all properties mechanically, in terms of matter and motion, that is, by the size, shape, arrangement and motion of the particles which composed the body. By this means, he could obviate the need for the peripatetic substantial forms and real qualities, those innate, occult properties of matter:
" Ainsi, estant assurez que chacun des corps que nous sentons est compose de plusieurs autres corps si petits que nous ne les scaurions appercevoir, il n'y a, ce me semble, personne,... qui ne doive avouer que c'est beaucoup mieux philosopher, de juger de ce qui arrive en ces petits corps, que leur seule petitesse nous empesche de pouvoir sentir, par i'exemple de ce que nous voyons arriver en ceux que nous sentons, & de rendre raison, par ce moyen, de tout ce qui est en la nature,... que, pour rendre raison des mesme choses, en inventer je ne s;ay quelles autres qui n'ont aucun rapport avec celles que nous sentons, comme sont la matiere premiere, les formes substantielles, & tout ce grand attirail de qualitez que plusieurs ont coustume de supposer, chacune desquelles peut plus difficilement estre connue que toutes les choses qu'on pretend expliquer par leur moyen " (II9).

DESCARTES recognized that he was here in the atomic tradition; but he thought, rightly, that he was being far more comprehensive than any of the atomists had been (I20). Though he did not realize it, it was mainly because he included motion, as well as size, shape and number of the particles that he was able to do so. Cohesion, according to DESCARTES, resulted from the simplest of all properties, that of relative rest between the parts of the
(I 6) Letter CXLIX to MERSENNE, 15 November I638; CEuvres,II, 441. (117) Letter CLXXIX to MERSENNE, 25 December 1639; CEuvres,II, 635.

(ix8) Principles, Part II, section 23; (Euvres, IX, 75.

(I19) Principles, Part IV, section 201; (Euvres, IX, 319-20. (120) Principles, Part IV, section 202: " Puis, enfin, on a eu sujet de la rejetter a cause qu'il [DEMOCRITUS] n'expliquoit comment toutes point en particulier

choses avoient este formees par le seul rencontre de ces petits corps, ou bien, s'il expliquoit de quelques ines, les raisons qu'il en donnoit ne dependoient pas tellement les unes des autres que cela fit voir que toute la nature pouvoit estre expliquee en mesme facon." (Euvres, IX, 320.



There was no need to imagine hooks and interlaced body (121). atoms as the Epicureans like GASSENDI had done; as DESCARTES wrote, "je ne croy pas qu'on puisse imaginer aucun ciment plus propre a joindre ensemble les parties des corps durs, que leur He was here concerned, as always, to propres repos " (122). the give simplest explanation, one that would present no conceptual difficulty. The difference between solid and liquid bodies was chiefly a question of the degree of motion (123). Though in general DESCARTES was not concerned about specifying the shape of his particles-though they had definite shape, it was not as important for Cartesianism as the shape of the particles was for atomism, since Cartesian particles were divisible-yet he did describe water in terms of the figure of the particles. His description of water was accepted and used by so many later scientists that it may be quoted here:
" Pour ce qui est de l'eau, j'ay des-ja monstre comment elle est composee de deux sortes de parties toutes longues & unies, dont les unes sont molles & pliantes, & les autres sont roides & inflexibles, en sort que, lors qu'elles sont separees, celles-cy composent le sel, & les premiers composent l'eau douce " (124).

The particles of all liquids were conceived to be in perpetual movement, the motion being facilitated by the fact that the particles could slide easily one over the other by reason of their shape. This motion was not innate in the particles but was the result of agitation of the particles of the third element by the particles of the subtle matter, itself in motion, and which was dispersed throughout the liquid in the interstices between particles (125). Elastic fluids were rendered elastic by the subtle fluid in their pores; the shape of the pores of the fluid determined whether
(121) Cf. Le Monde; CEuvres,XI, 12-13. (122) Principles, Part II, section 55; CEuvres,IX, 94.

(I23) Principles, Part II, sections 54 and 58, pp. 94, 98. (124) Principles, Part IV, Section 48; (Euvres, IX, 227. Cf. Les Meteores, Discours Premier, "Puis, en particulier, je suppose que les petites parties dont l'eau est composee, sont longues, unies, & glissantes, ainsi que de petites anguilles, qui, quoy qu'elles se joignent & s'entrelacent, ne se nouent ny s'accrochent jamais, pour cela, en telle fa9on, qu'elle ne puissent aysement estre separees; & au contraire, que presque toutes celles, tant de la terre que mesme de l'air & de la pluspart des autres cors, ont des figures fort irregulieres & inegales; en sorte qu'elles ne peuvent estre si peu entrelacees, qu'elles ne s'accrochent & se lient les unes aux autres." CEuvres, VI, 233. (125) See Les Mlteores, Discours Premier; CEuvres,VI, 235-37.



enough subtle matter, with sufficiently large particles, entered the body to make it elastic (126). Rarefaction was caused by the attempt of the particles to separate themselves under the pressure
of the subtle matter (127). The particles " se frappent ou se

poussent les unes les autres en se remuant, & ainsi s'accordent toutes ensemble a faire effort pour occuper plus d'espace qu'elles
n'en ont"



this relatively

sophisticated explanation to the picture of air as like a fleece of wool, though this comparison was very common, and is frequently identified with Cartesianism. The only place where DESCARTES himself used this comparison was in an early letter, in which he wrote,
"Pour resoudre vos difficultez, imaginez l'air comme de la laine, & l'aether qui est dans ses pores comme des tourbillons de vent, qui se meuvent ca et hl dans cette laine; & pensez que ce vent qui se joue de tous costez entre les petits fils de cette laine, empesche qu'ils ne se pressent si fort l'un contre l'autre, comme ils pourroient faire sans cela. Car ils sont tous pesans, & se pressent les uns les autres autant que l'agitation de ce vent leur peut permettre, si bien que la laine qui est contre la terre est pressee de toute celle qui est au dessus jusques au delh des nues, ce qui fait une grande pesanteur " (129).

DESCARTEShad thus made some considerable progress towards

a kinetic theory of gases; though it was the particles of the celestial or subtle matter that moved with increasing swiftness under the influence of heat, not the particles of the gas themselves. Interestingly, perhaps significantly, the best description of the Cartesian theory of gases is that given by BOYLE in i660, when the knowledge of air had been considerably increased, in good
part by BOYLE'Sefforts. He wrote,
"There is yet another way to explicate the spring of the air; namely, by supposing with that most ingenious gentleman, Monsieur Des Cartes, that the
(126) Principles, Part IV, section 80. " le premiere & la principale difference qui est entre l'air & le feu, consiste en ce que les parties du feu se meuvent beaucoup plus vite que celles de l'air, d'autant que l'agitation du premier element est incomparablement plus grande que celle du second." (Euvres, IX, 244. (127) Principles, Part II, sections 6 and 7; (Euvres, IX, 66-7. (128) Principles, Part IV, section 47; (Euvres, IX, 226-7. It was this which accounted for the action of pneumatic machines, such as fountains and wind-guns, DESCARTEScarefully noted. (129) Letter XXXIV, to RENERI, 2 June 1631; (Euvres, I, 205-6. This letter is particularly interesting for its use of the word aether as equivalent to the matiere subtile; ether became the commoner phrase among Cartesians, though it was rarely used elsewhere by DESCARTES.



air is nothing but a congeries or heap of small and (for the most part) of flexible particles, of several, sizes and of all kinds of figures, which are raised by the heat (especially that of the sun) into that fluid and subtle ethereal body that surrounds the earth; and by the restless agitation of that celestial matter, wherein those particles swim, are so whirled around, that each corpuscle endeavours to beat off all others from coming within the little sphere requisite to its motion about its own centre; and in case any, by intruding into that sphere, shall oppose its free rotation, to expel or drive it away " (130).

Fire DESCARTES thought of as an elastic fluid, the most fluid substance imaginable: "La flame, dont j'ay deja dit que toutes les parties sont perpetuellement agitees, est non seulement liquide, mais aussi elle rend liquide la pluspart des autres corps " (I3). Flame differed from air chiefly in its greater fluidity, that is, in the greater subtility and swifter motions of its particles (132). Heat he regarded as the sensation caused by the increased agitation of the particles of the hot body; this agitation was not directly the result of the application of a heating force, but was caused by the increased agitation of the particles of subtle matter when exposed to such a force. " Tout ce qui peut remuer diversement les petites parties de nos mains, ou de quelqu'autre endroit de nostre corps, peut exciter en nous ce sentiment [de chaleur] " (133). Light was a cause, but not the only cause of heat: " Or c'est une telle agitation de petites parties des corps terrestres, qu'on nomme en eux la chaleur (soit qu'elle ait este excitee par la lumiere du Soleil, soit par quelque autre cause)" (134). Light itself was nothing but motion : " la lumiere n'est autre chose qu'un certain mouvement, ou une action, dont les cors lumineus poussent cete
Cf. DESCARTES: (130) BOYLE: Spring and Weight of the Air; Works, I, II-12. Principles, part IV, section 45; (Euvres, IX, 225-6. (131) Le Monde; (Euvres, XI, 14. Cf. Principles, part IV, section 80; ." Toutes les petites parties des corps terrestres de quelque grosseur ou figure qu'elles soient, prennent la forme du feu, lors qu'elles sont separees l'une de l'autre, & tellement environnees de la mati6re du premier element, qu'elles doivent suivre son cours." (Euvres, IX, 243. (132) Principles, Part IV, section 80. " la premiere et la principale difference qui est entre l'air & le feu, consiste en ce que les parties du feu se meuvent beaucoup plus vite que celles de l'air, d'autant que l'agitation du premier element est incomparablement plus grande que celle du second." CEuvres,IX, 244. (133) Le Monde; (Euvres, XI, Io. (134) Principles, Part IV, section 29; (Euvres, IX, 215. Cf. Part IV, section 31, "Enfin on doit remarquer que cette agitation des petites parties des corps terrestres est ordinairement cause qu'elles occupent plus d'espace que lors qu'elles sont en repos ou bien qu'elles sont moins agitees." p. 216.



matiere subtile de tous costes autour d'eus en ligne droite " (I35). If this motion were transferred to that portion of the subtle matter that lay within the pores of a body, the body would become hot. Similarly, mechanical attrition would set this enclosed subtle matter in motion, and again produce heat. Cold was then merely a lesser degree of agitation of the particles of the subtle matter, a mere absence of heat; and there was no need for the frigorific
particles postulated by GASSENDI(I36).

In his desire to banish all innate qualities and substantial forms, DESCARTES excluded the idea that bodies were, in themselves and innately, endowed with weight; and he consequently tried to explain gravity on a purely mechanical basis. As he wrote,

" Je ne croy point non plus que les cors pesans descendent par quelque qualite pesanteur, telle que les philosophes l'imaginent, ny aussi par quelque attraction de la terre " (I37).

avoided By means of the actions of the subtle matter DESCARTES the (to him) occult force of gravitational attraction (I38). The weight of a body was not caused by the fact that the particles of which the body was composed were innately heavy; gravity was caused by the presence of subtle matter within the pores of the body, and by the motion of the great bulk of subtle matter around the earth.
" Toute la pesanteur de ce corps consiste en ce que le reste de la matiere subtile qui est en cette portion d'air, a plus de force a s'eloigner du centre de la Terre, que le reste de la matiere terrestre qui le compose " (139).

One of the points on which DESCARTES took issue with GALILEO

was the fact that GALILEO had not discussed the nature of gravity but had merely assumed its existence as if it were innate in
matter (140).
(135) VI, 84. (136) (137) (138)


was also one of the causes of DESCARTES'S

Cf. La Dioptrique, Discours I; (Euvres,

Les Meteores; (Euvres, VI, 234.

Les Meteores; GEuvres,VI, 235-6. Letter LXI, Automne 1635; (Euvres, I, 324. Principles, Part IV, section 20; CEuvres,IX, 20. (i39) Principles, Part IV, section 24; CEuvres, IX, 212. Cf. Letter CLXXIX to MERSENNE, 25 December 1639; " Il est certain (au moins suyvant mes principes) que si la Matiere subtile qui tourne autout de la Terre n'y tournoit point, aucun cors ne seroit pesant & que, si elle tournoit autour de la Lune, ils devroient tous estre portez vers la Lune, &c." (Euvres, II, 635. (140) Letter CXLVI to MERSENNE, II October 1638; " Tout ce qu'il [GALILEO] dit de la vitesse des cors qui descendent dans le vuide &c., est basti sans fondement;



intense aversion to atomism. DEMOCRITUS had not only assumed the existence of indivisible particles and of the vacuum. To his
" attribuoit de la pesanteur, & moy je nie qu'il y en ait en aucun corps, en tant qu'il est considere seul, pource que c'est une qualite qui depend du mutuel rapport que plusieurs corps ont les uns aux autres " (141).

It will be noted that in the above discussion no mention has been made of DESCARTES' vortex theory. Central though it was to his physical system, the vortex theory was not a necessary part of his theory of matter. In his earliest published physical treatises, La Dioptrique and Les Mete`ores (1637) there was no mention of vortex motion. The earlier Le Monde (laid aside upon the news of GALILEO'Scondemnation by the Inquisition) and the later Principles of Philosophy (1644) both made extensive use of the vortex theory; yet their discussions of the structure of matter were substantially the same as that of the earlier works, where it had been omitted chiefly in order to avoid undue complication, and to make the theory easier of acceptance. The physical theories of DESCARTES had an enormous influence and became very widespread among seventeenth century physicists. The first to profess Cartesian physics openly was HENRICUS REGIUS LE at the of (HENRI ROY), professor Utrecht; his University Fundamenta physices, published in 1646, only two years after DESCARTES' Principles, followed his master's work very closely (I42). Cartesianism was introduced into England soon after the public: ation of the Discours de la methode and became of considerable importance; even where the Cartesian philosophy was rejected, as by HENRY MORE, the Cambridge Platonist, Cartesian physics was seriously considered (143). Cartesianism became the prevailing
car il auroit deu auparavant determiner ce que c'est que la pesanteur; & s'il en sqavoit la verite, il scauroit qu'elle est nulle dans le vuide." (Euvres, II, 385. (14I) Principles, Part IV, section 202; (Euvres, IX, 320. (I42) See Mou : La physique cartdsienne, p. 73-96. The i66i edition of REGIUs' work, entitled Philosophia naturalis, contains a discussion of capillarity; see E. C. MILLINGTON: "Studies in Cohesion from DEMOCRITUS to LAPLACE"; Lychnos, I944-5, 55-78. (I43) For the introduction of Cartesianism into England, see J. LAIRD: et la philosophie anglaise "; Revue Philosophique, 1937, 226-56; "DESCARTES "The Early Stage of Cartesianism in England "; Studies MARJORIE NICOLSON: in Philology, XXVI, 1929, 356-74; STER.ING. LAMPRECHT : " The Role of DESCARTES in Seventeenth-Century England "; Studies in the History of Ideas, III, 1935,



scientific philosophy in France after the middle of the century; and though the seventeenth century scientific academies, both French and English, were thoroughly Baconian in spirit, yet each numbered among its members many staunch Cartesians. Among members of the Royal Society it may be sufficient to mention JOSEPH GLANVILLE,HENRY POWER and JOHN MAYOW (I44). The Academie des Sciences was a stronghold of Cartesianism and a center of resistance against Newtonian physics well into the eighteenth century (145). Only those aspects of Cartesianism which concern the development of theories of matter will be considered here. Though Cartesianism was an authoritarian system, many later scientists professed to be followers of DESCARTESwho yet diverged from the master in certain points; generally this divergence was caused by the need to adapt certain of the Cartesian theories to the results of the many brilliant experimental discoveries which mark the progress of science in the seventeenth century. Probably the most influential of all the seventeenth century
Cartesians was JACQUESROHAULTwhose Traite de physique (first

published in i671) was long a standard textbook throughout Europe and was introduced into England through a Latin translation by
SAMUEL CLARK, annotated with Newtonian foot-notes (I46). ROHAULT was a thorough Cartesian; he carefully excluded the

vacuum and atoms


while retaining divisible particles and

For MORE'Sacceptance of Cartesian physics, see NICOLSON,p. 364 I81-240. (footnote 22) and p. 362. MORE'sImmortality of the Soul, first published. in I662, is strongly Cartesian in its theory of matter. (144) See GLANVILLE: The Vanity of Dogmatizing, first published in I66I; HENRY POWER : Experimental Philosophy, I664; JOHNMAYOW: Tractatus quinque, first published in i674, translated as Medico-physical Works (Alembic Club Reprint no. 17), 1907. (145) See PIERRE BRUNET: L'introduction des theories de Newton en France au XVIIIe siecle: avant 1738, 1931, which is, however, primarily concerned with the overthrow of Cartesian cosmology rather than with Cartesian theories of matter. (146) Translated into English under the title Rohault's System of Natural Philosophy, illustrated with Dr. Samuel Clark's notes, taken mostly out of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophy, 1723. On ROHAULT's physics, see MOUY: La physique cartesienne, o18-38. For the popularity of ROHAULT'S treatise and its vicissitudes, see GEORGE SARTON "The Study .of Early Scientific Textbooks "; Isis, 38 1947-8, I37-48. (147) Cf. CLARK'S ROHAULT, Preface: ".I have taken all the general Notions from ARISTOTLE, either for establishing the Principles of natural things, or the chief Properties of them : And I have rejected a Vacuum, and Atoms, 0I Epicurus's



the three Cartesian elements (148). Cartesian physics as expounded by ROHAULT had an immense influence in spreading the Cartesian form of the mechanical philosophy. Though chemists and physicists frequently rejected the three elements of DESCARTES, they followed ROHAULT in accepting the ideas of indivisible particles, the subtle matter (ether), agitation of the particles as the cause of heat, and the theory of light as motion propagated through the subtle matter. Cartesian physics showed itself unexpectedly adaptable considering the systematic presentation of DESCARTES and within its framework there was room for a considerable diversity of opinions, so that physicists who accepted Cartesian particulate matter and the ether often proposed new mechanisms to explain certain properties of bodies, particularly in the matter of cohesion and
gravity. classed as a Cartesian physicist, but he differed from DESCARTESon the
CLAUDE PERRAULT is generally

For example,

problem of cohesion. He believed in Cartesian particles and the ether but thought cohesion was caused, not by rest between the particles, but by the pressure of the subtle matter. Weight was caused by the " ether " a weightless fluid corresponding roughly to DESCARTES' first element (149).

like all members

of the Royal Society

professing to follow no system, was definitely and strongly influenced by Cartesian physics and shows clearly how the Cartesian
indivisible Particles." It is interesting that Cartesianism had still to make its way so diffidently against an intrenched Aristotelianism. (148) See Chapter XXI: "Of the Element of natural things," especially paragraph 7: " This being supposed, it cannot be but that all these Particles of Matter must be broken where-ever they are angular, or are intangled with those that join to them; so that those which were supposed before to be very small, must become still smaller and smaller, till they are got into a Spherical Figure. Thus we have two Sorts of Matter determined, which we ought to account the two first Elements. And of those two we here call that which consists of the very fine Dust which comes off from those Particles, which are not quite so small, when they are turned round, the first Element. And these Particles thus made round, we call the second Element. And because it may be, that some of the small Parts of Matter, either singly or united together, may continue in irregular and confused Figures, not so proper for Motion, we take them for the third Element, and join them to the other two." This is a simple but accurate paraphrase of the theory of DESCARTES. (149) Essais de physiques, I680, " De la pesanteul des corps, de leur ressort et de leur durete."



doctrines could be modified to conform to the discoveries of an experimental scientist. Though HOOKE differed from DESCARTES on the cause of gravity(I50), his theory of matter was essentially Cartesian; for he identified body with extension, rejected atoms, and believed in particulate though infinitely divisible matter. Thus he wrote,
" I conceive then the whole of Realities, that in any ways affect o-ur Senses, to be Body and Motion. By Body I conceive nothing else but a Reality that has Extension every way, positive and immutable, not as to Figure, but as to Quantity; ... And as Body, it is indifferent to receive any Figure whatever; nor has it more Extension in one than in the other Vessel, nor can it have less; nor is it more essentially a Body, when solid, as Ice, than when Fluid; that is, the Minims of it are equally disposed to Motion or Rest in position to each other; and therefore Body, as Body, may as well be, or supposed to be indefinitely Fluid, as definitely solid; and consequently there is no necessity to suppose Atoms, or any determinate part of Body perfectly solid, or such whose Parts are uncapable of changing position one to another; since, as I conceive, the Essence of Body is only determinate Extension, or a Power of being unalterably of such a Quantity, and not a Power of being and continuing of a determinate Quantity and a determinate Figure, which the Anatomists [sic-i.e. Atomists] suppose " ( 5 ).

Though HOOKE rejected atoms, he accepted without reserve infinitely divisible particles in the manner of DESCARTES, and spoke of " the Particles... that compose all bodies" (I52). He also believed in the Cartesian subtle matter or ether which he considered to be a fluid
"so subtil, as not only to be everywhere interspersed in the Air, (or rather the air through it) but to pervade the bodies of Glass, and even the closest Metals, by which means it may endeavour to detrude all earthly bodies as far fiom it as it can; and partly thereby, and partly by other of its properties, may move them towards the Center of the Earth. Now that there is some such fluid, I could produce many Experiments and Reasons, that do seem to prove it " (153). (I5o) HOOKE: Lampas (GUNTHER: Early Science in Oxford, VIII): "Now though I confess, I suppose Gravity to be otherwise performed than as Des Cartes has supposed; yet do I believe his Suppositions so Rational and Ingenious... and so much better than any other I have yet met with,..." p. 183. Cf. Lectures De Potentia (151) Posthumous Works, London, I705, p. 17I-2. Restitutiva or of Spring : " I do therefore define a sensible Body to be a determinate Space or Extension defended from being penetrated by another, by a power from within." Early Science in Oxford, VIII, 340. (152) Of Spring, p. 340. (I53) Micrographia; Early Science in Oxford, XIII, 22. Cf. Of Spring, "I do further suppose, A subtil matter that incompasseth and pervades all other bodies, which is the Menstruum in which they swim, which maintains and continues all such bodies in their motion, and which is the medium that conveys all Homogeneous or Harmonical motions from body to body." Early Science in Oxford, VIII, 341.



on heat represented

no departure from Cartesian

principles; he defined heat as " nothing but the internal Motion of the Particles of Body" (154), and again as " a property of a body arising from the motion or agitation of its parts " (I55). HUYGENS presents another example of the experimental scientist who accepted and modified Cartesian.physics. Though his theory of light represents a tremendous sophistication of the original
and though views of DESCARTES on he differed from DESCARTES

the explanation of gravity, his theory of matter was still strictly Cartesian (I56). For example, he described luminous bodies as
" Composed of particles which float in a much more subtle medium which agitates them with great rapidity, and makes them strike against the particles of the ether which surrounds them, and which are much smaller than they " (I57).

This subtle medium, or ether, was essentially the matiere subtile

as is apparent from HUYGENS' description: of DESCARTES,
Now in applying this kind of movement to that which produces Light there is nothing to hinder us from estimating the particles of ether to be of a substance as nearly approaching to perfect hardness and possessing a springiness as prompt as we choose. It is not necessary to examine here the causes of this hardness, or of that springiness, the consideration of which would lead us too far from our subject. I will say, however, in passing, that we may conceive that the particles of the ether, notwithstanding their smallness, are in turn composed of other parts and that their springiness consists in the very iapid movement of a subtle matter which penetrates them from every side and constrains their structure to assume such a dispositon as to give to this fluid matter the most overt and easy passage possible. This accords with the explanation which Mr. Des Cartes gives for the spling, though I do not, like him, suppose the pores to be in the form of round hollow canals " (158).

HUYGENS made use of the three Cartesian elements, all composed

of particles. In general, the explanations which

of the physical properties of matter-fluidity,

(I54) (I55)

solidity, on-

Posthumous Micrographia,

Works, p. I o; also p. 49. p. 37. Cf. p. I3: " Nor need we suppose heat to be anything

else, besides such a motion; for supposing we could Mechanically produce such a one quick and strong enough, we need not spend fuel to melt a body." (I56) Cf. Mou : La physique cartesienne, p. I80-2I7, esp. p. I87. LAsSWITZ: Geschichte der Atomistik, II, 344-84, regarded HUYGENS as a Cartesian influenced
by the doctrines of GASSENDI. HUYGENS apparently had some leanings towards

atomism, that is, he inclined to a belief in indivisible ultimate particles.

CHRISTIAAN HUYGENS : zEuvres completes; I9, 315 ff, especially 325-31. (I57) Treatise on Light, translated by SYLVANUSP. THOMPSON, p. I0-II.


(I58) Treatise on Light, p. 14. For HUYGENS'S theory of gravity, see his (Euvres
completes, I9, 617-45, and 55I-3.



agree with those of other mid-seventeenth century Cartesians. It is this type of Cartesianism that was scientifically the most profitable and was certainly the most influential in spreading particulate theories of matter. These followers of DESCARTES whose work has just been described accepted his theories as far as physics was concerned without too much emphasis on the metaphysical implications; they were therefore the readier to modify the theories as new experimental evidence was accumulated. There were many minor deviations, but in general it may be said that a Cartesian theory of matter involved the following beliefs. All bodies were composed of a uniform, dense matter, theoretically divisible to infinity, but in nature found divided into certain determinate small particles. Between these particles there was no vacuum, since the interstices were filled with a subtle ether, itself particulate. Agitation of the particles by the all-pervasive ether accounted for such physical properties of bodies as heat, light, fluidity, gravity, elasticity. The ether, being all-pervasive, prevented the presence of a vacuum anywhere in the world; the "vacuum" created by the air pump, the vacuum Boylianum, was merely an absence of air, not an absence of the ether. Of lesser importance for the advance of physical science, but of interest in the history of the development of particulate theories of matter, are various departures from the usual form of Cartesianism developed by writers who considered themselves as followers of DESCARTES. As representative, we may consider CORDEMOY, a true atomist; MALEBRANCHE, a plenist; and KERANFLECH, who can only be described as a " vorticist." To call CORDEMOY a Cartesian atomist may seem to be wanton paradox; but he considered himself to be a Cartesian, at the same
time believing in atoms and the void (I59). CORDEMOY rejected

the infinite divisibility of matter insisted on by DESCARTES; because space is divisible it need not follow, he thought, that everything extensible is also divisible. It was impossible that everything should be divisible, for,
"J'ay fait voir que si chaque corps est divisible, il est impossible de concevoir
(159) See MOUY: La physique cartesienne, p. ioi-Io6; PROST: L'atomisme et I'occasionalisme, 36-62; MIABILLEAU: Histoire de la philosophie atomistique, 423-7;

PILLON : "L'evolution historique de l'atomisme," L'Annee philosophique, II, I891,

67-1 I2.



un corps en repos entre d'autres corps, & moins encore de concevoir son mouvement, c'est-a-dire qu'il est impossible de concevoir rien en la nature " (I6o).

Neither did CORDEMOY think it necessary to fill the space between the particles of bodies; it was not a valid argument to say that the sides of ajar would meet when everything inside it was removed -this would only happen from excessive outside pressure-and a vacuum was philosophically perfectly acceptable (161). The called simply " corps," associated to form atoms, which CORDEMOY aggregates of various degrees of complexity : the matiere premiere was " un assemblage de corps," the matiere seconde" un assemblage de plusieurs portions de mesme nature, & chacune de ces portions est une veritable partie de cette matiere seconde" (162). In general, CORDEMOY made use of the standard Cartesian explanations for the various physical properties of bodies. But he was essentially more interested in philosophic than in purely physical problems; he seems to have been little studied by the physicists, while the philosophers regarded his metaphysical proofs of the existence of atoms as more important than his physical arguments (163). CORDEMOY'S ideas are chiefly of interest in showing how nearly the Cartesian theory of matter approached a true atomic theory, and how little separated the divisible particles of DESCARTES from the indivisible atoms of Epicurean physics. In great contrast to the atomism of CORDEMOY is the almost completely plenist theory developed by MALEBRANCHE. Though believed, particulate (164), ordinary matter was, MALEBRANCHE
Dissertations pvhsiques sur le discernement du corps & de (I60) G. CORDEMOY: l'ame: sur la parole, et sur le systeme de Monsieur Descartes, Paris, 1690 (first published i666); Discours I, p. I8-i9. (i 6) Dissertations physiques, p. 2 . Since this was written in i666, CORDEMOY was familiar with the experiments performed with the air-pump. (162) Dissertations physiques, p. 23-4. who was opposed to atomism, regarded CORDEMOY as par(163) DESGABETS, " I1 est tems de ticularly dangerous; as he wrote to the Cartesian CLERSELIER, commencer l'examen particulier des pensees nouvelles du livre qui me donne l'occasion de vous ecrire, remarquant en premier lieu qu'EPIcuRE, LUCRECE, GASSENDIet leurs sectateurs n'ont employe jusqu'a present que des raisons physiques pour prouver les atomes et le vuide, au lieu que notre auteur laissant 1a les raisons physiques, il s'est attache a des considerations metaphysiques tres subtiles qu'il pretend faire passer pour demonstrations convaincantes" Quoted by PROST L'atomisme et l'occasionalisme, p. i60. 2 vols, Paris. (I64) De la recherche de la verite, ed. by FRANCISQUE BOUILLIER,



the ether, to which he assigned a very important r6le, was effectively continuous. He supposed
" que la matiere subtile ou etheree n'est composee que d'une infinite de petits tourbillons, qui tournent sur leurs centres avec une extreme rapidite, et qui se contre-balancent les uns les autres " (I65).

The parts of the ether, in rapid motion, formed little vortices, within which, since matter was infinitely divisible, still smaller vortices formed; between these there was a continual interaction
" I1 me parait donc evident que la matiere subtile, dont la rapidite est extreme, se met et se meut ainsi en petits tourbillons et que ces tourbillons se contrebalancent les uns les auties " (I66).

Ordinary matter, the third or terrestrial matter of DESCARTES, was composed of divisible particles in MALEBRANCHE'S system; its solidity resulted from the action of the ethereal matter. The theory of matter developed by KERANFLECH represents the last stand of a dying Cartesianism that refused to admit any of the advances of Newtonian science. KERANFLECH was a follower of PRIVATDE MOLIERES, himself a late Cartesian, one of the school that developed the ideas set forth by MALEBRANCHE (I67). In 1761 KERANFLECH published L'hypothese des petits tourbillons, in which he developed an elaborate theory of small vortices around each particle of matter. For example, he defined a liquid as follows
" Si au centre d'un petit tourbillon de matiere etheree il se forme un globe solide, comme nous concevons que la terre s'est formee au centre de notre monde, & si le meme accident arrive a une grande multitude de tourbillons semblables; l'amas de ces petits tourbillons, ainsi appesantes & rapproches, aura toutes les proprietes qu'on remarque dans les liquides " (I68).

All solid bodies had around them a corpuscular atomsphere; " les
1880, " Des lois generales de la communication des mouvements. Seconde partie." p. 202f. Also XVIe Eclaircissement, " Sur la lumiere," p. 48xf. (165) XVIe Eclaircissement, XIV, " Preuve de la supposition que j'ai faite," p. 494. (166) XVIe Eclaircissement, p. 495. (167) See P. BRUNETr: Un grand debat sur la physique de MALEBRANCHE au XVIIIe siecle ); Isis, 20, 1933-4,.366-95. On PRIVAT DEMOLIERES, see METZGER: Les doctrines chimiques, p. 462-66. (I68) L'hypothese des petits tourbillons, justifiee par ses usages, Rennes, I74I, denounced Newtonian physics roundly; attraction he regarded p. 83. KERANFLECH as an occult quality, and the idea of material light traversing a real vacuum, as a pure paradox.



petits corpuscules de ces atmospheres sont eux-memes de petits tourbillons differement charges de globules, & qui balancent avec l'ether, chacun avec l'ordre dont il est" (I69). To maintain a was compelled to introduce strictly mechanical system KERANFLECH an impossibly complicated vortex theory, utterly unrelated to the physical world. The immense popularity of Cartesian physics in the later seventeenth century, especially in France, is well known. The Aristotelian theory of matter was completely, though gradually, displaced and scientists were either Cartesians or atomists (I70). Why was the Cartesian theory so successful ? It was not merely that DESCARTES offered, along with his theory of matter, a complete metaphysical and physical system, as complete as the Aristotelianism he was trying to overthrow. It was rather that DESCARTES offered a mechanical philosophy, based on both matter and motion, in which he explained many of the physical properties of matter hitherto regarded as " innate" in bodies. As he wrote,
" Si je ne me trompe, non seulement ces quatres Qualitez [Chaleur, Froideur, Humidite & Secheresse], mais aussi toutes les autres, & mesme toutes les Formes des corps inanimez, peuvent estre expliquees, sans qu'il soit besoin de supposer pour cet effet aucune autre chose en leur matiere, que le mouvement, la grosseur, la figure, & l'arrangement de ses parties " (x7I).

He never did explain all the forms and qualities on this basis; but he showed the way and BOYLErightly regarded him as " a great benefactor to, though not the first founder of the mechanical philosophy " (172). Cartesianism also showed an amazing adaptability to experimental discoveries. The system had an a priori defense against the pneumatic discoveries made so soon after the publication of the had already, under the inPrinciples of Philosophy. DESCARTES fluence of BEECKMAN, rejected the horror vacui; and his concept of the subtle matter gave a rational explanation of the action
(169) L'hypothese, p. 21 . To explain the reactions of acids with bases KERANFLECH defined them as follows: " Les acides sont de petits tourbillons propres a s'emparer des alkalis. Les alkalis sont des matieres qui ne sont pas en tourbillons, & qui sont propres A etre emportees ou entrainees par les acides," p. 103. BOYLE (170) Thus ROBERT always classified his contemporaries as either atomists or Cartesians. See BOYLE : Works, I, 355. (171) Le Monde; CEuvres,IX, 20. (172) Flame and the Air; Works, III, 597-8.




of the air pump without necessitating the acceptance of the metaphysically difficult concept of a true void. The use of the subtle matter permitted alternate explanations, within the Cartesian framework, of many other much discussed physical properties of matter, especially gravity and cohesion. In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries any new physical theory had to compete with a reigning Cartesianism; there was probably no scientist whose ideas on matter were completely uninfluenced by those of DESCARTES, however little he might agree with them (173).

VI. -


Though ROBERT BOYLE'S scientific reputation was established by an essay in experimental physics, The Spring and Weight of the Air, and though his modern reputation rests on the destructive attack on the contemporary theories of elements, an attack expounded 'n the Sceptical Chymist, he published an extraordinary number of primarily theoretical works devoted to the explanation and illustration of his theory of matter (I74). BOYLE was neither a follower of any atomic sect nor a Cartesian. He was thoroughly familiar with all theories of matter, both ancient and modern, and mentioned by name most of the writers on the subject; he was careful to keep himself informed of the latest developments in Cartesian and Epicurean physics (I75); but his " corpuscles"
(173) Even LEIBNIZwas influenced by Cartesianism, though he broke with DESCARTES over the fundamental question of the definition of matter. He began as a Cartesian, but his monads find no place within the Cartesian framework and he became completely anti-Cartesian. On this see P. MouY: La physique cartesienne, p. 2 I 8-36. For a sketch of LEIBNIZ'S theory of matter and its philosophic implications, see J. A. IRVING: "LEIBNIZ' Theory of Matter "; Philosophy of Science, 3, 1936, 208-14. (174) Throughout, references to BOYLE'Sworks will be given by the short title used by FULTON: "A Bibliography of the Honourable ROBERT BOYLE"; Oxford Bibliographical Society Proceedings and Papers, 3, 193I-33, 1-172. Dates are those of publication, unless otherwise specified. All quotations are from the six volume Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, edited by THOMAS BIRCH, 1772; this will be referred to as Works. letter to BOYLE,dated Paris, 20 March i660: "I can (175) Cf. OLDENBURG'S learn nothing of any new books, treating of the Epicurean or Cartesian principles; and I am persuaded, that if there be any new ones come lately abroad, the news thereof will sooner come from Holland than these parts." Works, VI, 145.



were neither the atoms of GASSENDI nor the particles of DESCARTES. Though he owed much to these, as to other predecessors, BOYLE'S " corpuscular philosophy " was an independent development, along lines suggested by BACON. BOYLE'Sideas on the nature of matter underwent a considerable growth before its enunciation in final form in the Origin of Forms and Qualities of 1666. The eatlie-t statement of his views on the underlying structure of matter are contained in Part I of the Usefulness of Experimental Philosophy, written about 1653 though not published until ten years later. In the digression " Concerning those, that would exclude the Deity from intermeddling with matter " BOYLE attacked the Epicureans on theological grounds, at the same time setting forth a particulate theory of matter.
" But for (most of) the... phaenomena of nature, methinks we may, without absurdity, conceive, that God... having resolved, before the creation, to make such a world as this of ours, did divide (at least if he did not create it incoherent) that matter, which he had provided, into an innumerable multitude of very variously figured corpuscles, and both connected these particles into such textures or particular bodies, and placed them in such situations, and put them into such motions, that by the assistance of his ordinary preserving concourse, the phaenomena, which he intended should appear in the universe, must as orderly follow, and be exhibited by the bodies necessarily acting according to those impressions or laws, though they understood them not at all, as if each of these creatures had a design of self-preservation, and were furnished with knowledge and industry to prosecute it " (176).

Matter is thus particulate; the corpuscles, of various shapes, combine to form bigger particles differing in properties according to their shape, the arrangement of the composing corpuscles, and their motion. This motion was not innate, as the Epicureans had imagined, but was variously assigned to the particles by God (I77). Besides his disagreement with the Epicurean system for theological reasons, BOYLE took exception to such a system on a matter of scientific principle. For he felt that they were too dogmatic, presenting a rational system not grounded upon experiment. As he insisted,
"It is one thing to be able to shew it possible, for such and such effects to proceed from the various magnitudes, shapes, motions, and concretions of atoms; (I76) Works, II, 39. maintained that God was the creator of the world; but BOYLE (177) GASSENDI felt that it was not assigning a sufficiently important role to the creator, if he were believed to have created matter with motion innate therein.




and another thing to be able to declare what precise, and determinate figures, sizes, and motions of atoms will suffice to make out the proposed phaenomena, without incongruity to any others to be met with in nature " (178).

It was the latter problem that BOYLEwas to attack consistently and successfully, endeavouring as much as possible to give his atomic theory an experimental basis. The Spring and Weight of the Air is far more important scientifically; it is, next to the Sceptical Chymist, the most widely read of BOYLE'S books at the present time. From certain statements in this work BOYLE is sometimes considered as a scientist having only a casual interest in atomism, who did not feel the need of exploring the atomic hypothesis deeply,nor of making it an integral This theory is derived from BOYLE'S part of his work (I79). to refusal choose between the two available (Epicurean temporary and Cartesian) methods of explaining the elasticity of the air, because he felt that the question was
" much more hard to be explicated than necessary to be so by him whose business it is not, in this letter, to assign the adequate cause of the spring of the air, but " only to manifest, that the air hath a spring, and to relate some of its effects (I80).

BOYLE had no intention of postponing beyond " this letter" the explanation of the spring of the air; but he knew that his discoveries would receive a wider audience and a quicker acceptance if he did not burden them with theory. It was for the same reason that he did not discuss in detail whether the air-pump produced a true vacuum-that is, completely empty space-or merely removed the contained air. BOYLEdid clearly, in this treatise, recognize the particulate nature of matter, constantly referring to the corpuscles or
(178) Usefulness of Experimental Philosophy, Part I; Works, II, 45. BRYANT CONANT: On Understanding Science, p. 46-8: BOYLE (179) See JAMES when he evinced little interest in alternative explanations which could not be tested by experiment was centuries ahead of his times." Even BURTTleans to this view; when he says, "GASSENDI's revival of Epicurean atomism seemed to BOYLEespecially important, although he never made significant use of its specific points of difference from DESCARTES' cosmology, so that one suspects that the feeling of kinship was due more to GASSENDI'S empiricism than to his atomic speculations." The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science, p. 162. BOYLE was, however, a convinced believer in a particulate matter; he based this belief as far as possible on experiment, but he accepted the hypothesis whole-heartedly always. (180) Spring and Weight of the Air (x660); Works, I, I -x2.



particles of air. Though he avoided explaining the cause of the air's elasticity, he noted that the elasticity could be increased by the " agitation of the aerial particles" under the influence of heat (181). He recognized water vapor as an elastic fluid similar to air; and suggested as the cause of its elasticity that " the aqueous particles may perhaps for a while be so vehemently agitated, as to press almost like springs upon other bodies " (I82). This seems like a promising beginning for a true kinetic theory; yet at the same time BOYLE thought that the elasticity of the air " probably proceeds from its texture "; that is, from the structure of the corpuscles. This difference in cause of elasticity agreed with the fact that the water vapor could be condensed to a liquid, where air was fixed. In i66i, BOYLE published his Physiological Essays, six short works written during the preceeding four or five years, on various subjects, but mainly designed to illustrate the corpuscular philoThese essays strikingly exemplify what came to sophy (I83). be perhaps the most significant aspect of his work, namely the use of experiment (chiefly chemical experiment) to confirm and illustrate theory. In the Proemial Essay he felt compelled to apologize for his preference of experiment over rational theory :
" For although such explanations be the most satisfactory to the understanding, wherein it is shewn, how the effect is produced by their more primitive and catholick affections of matter, namely, bulk, shape and motion; yet are not these explications to be despised wherein particular effects are deduced from the more obvious and familiar qualitites oi states of bodies, such as heat, cold, weight, fluidity, hardness, fermentation, &c. though these themselves do probably depend upon those three universal ones formerly named " (I84).

(181) Works, I, 19-20.

(I82) Works, I, 50. (I83) The essays are as follows: Proemial Essay (Considerations Touching Experimental Essays in general); Two Essays concerning the Unsuccessfulness of Experiments; Some Specimens of an Attempt to Make Chymical Experiments useful to Illustrate the notions of the Corpuscular Philosophy (the body of this essay has the running head A Physico-Chymical Essay containing an Experiment relating to Saltpetre); and The History of Fluidity and Firmness. (184) Works, I, 308. At the same time he added, " I think it therefore very fit and highly useful, that some speculative wits, well versed in mathematical principles and mechanical contrivances, should employ themselves in deducing the chiefest modes or qualities of matter, such as are heat, cold, &c. and the states or conditions of it... as fluid firm, brittle, flexible, and the like, from the above mentioned most primitive and simple affections thereof."



This was certainly part of the general plea for Baconian empiricism as against Cartesian rationalism; for the essays were designed to illustrate the experimental method, and the experiments used were those which BOYLE had thought of as a continuation of BACON'S Sylva sylvarum. But BOYLE in these essays and especially in the History of Fluidity and Firmness and the Essay on Saltpetre consistently assumed a particulate theory of matter. He avoided speculating on the nature of the component particles of bodies partly in order to appeal to as wide an audience as possible; for his scientific friends, whom he hoped to please, were divided between the Cartesian and atomic schools (i85). It was not that he did not recognize and appreciate the differences between the two philosophies, but inasmuch as they were fundamentally in agreement on the question of the structure of matter and both were forms of the mechanical philosophy, he was willing temporarily to ignore lesser points of difference in order to promote the spread of the mechanical philosophy. He was here most concerned to show that experiments could be an invaluable aid to the philosopher, that in fact it was on them that the mechanical philosophy must be based; while " corpuscular notions" could very well explain many experiments. An example of this was the Essay on Saltpetre where the various changes undergone by the saltpetre under the influence of a series of reagents, and the final recovery of the saltpetre intact, were explained on corpuscularian grounds, at the same time that the experiments confirmed the particulate nature of matter. As he said, the essay was designed to
" afford us an instance, by which we may discern, that motion, figure, and disposition of parts, and such like primary and mechanical affections (if I may so call them) of matter, may suffice to produce those more secondary affections of bodies, which are wont to be called sensible qualities" (186).

The two essays which make up the History of Fluidity and Firmness (written before 1659) illustrate several aspects of BOYLE'S earlier corpuscular hypothesis. Already he had begun to evolve
(185) Works, I, 355. Interestingly, BOYLEnoted that he had more friends favoring atomism than Cartesianism. For a similar coupling of all particulate theories together, cf. the Defense Against Hobbes and Linus (1662) where he addressed himself to " intelligent readers, especially those that are imbued with the principles of the corpuscular philosophy." Works, I, I19. (186) Works, I, 364.



his own theory, closely related to both Epicureanism and Cartesianism, borrowing from both but distinct from either. For the Epicureans, fluidity depended upon the smoothness and spherical shape of the particles (GASSENDI thought that the particles of fluids were loosely joined, with vacua between them); for the Cartesians,fluid particles had various possible shapes, except those that would permit of close contact, and the particles were continuously moved by the matiere subtile or ether. BOYLE listed three essential attributes of fluids : first, the component particles must be small; second, there must be " a store of vacant spaces intercepted betwixt the component particles of the fluid body" to permit movement (this is definitely more Epicurean than Cartesian); and third, and most important, the particles must be " agitated variously and apart, whether by their own innate and inherent motion, or by some thinner substance that tumbles them about in its passage through them" (I87). (This guarded suggestion of the existence of the Cartesian subtle fluid is not unusual in BOYLE'Swork, especially his earlier work; he had even expounded the Cartesian theory of elasticity at some length in the Spring and Weight of the Air; but he never professed to accept it, and elsewhere expressed his disbelief in its existence.) (188). The three distinguishing features of solidity were " the grossness, the quiet contact, and the implication of the component parts" (I89). Here again BOYLE combined Cartesian and Epicurean notions, together with certain ideas of his own. The Sceptical Chymist, published in 1661 but written earlier, is the work by which BOYLE is generally remembered at the present time although it was not more popular in contemporary England
than any of his other works (190). Here BOYLE was avowedly
(187) Physiological Essays; Works, I, 378-87. (188) Cf. Experiment xxxviii of the Spring and Weight of the Air, First Continuation (1669); Works, III, 25of: " About an attempt to examine the motions and sensibility of the Cartesian Materia subtilis, or the Aether, with a pair of bellows made of a bladder in the exhausted receiver." See also the Rarefaction of the Air (167I); Works, III, 495f., especially, p. 509; and the Excellency of the Mechanical Hypothesis (I674); Works, IV, 73. (189) History of Firmness; Works, I, 401. (I90) FULTON lists two English editions and seven Latin editions; The Spring and Weight of the Air had three English and seven Latin editions, excluding the continuations. Most of BOYLE'sworks had at least two English editions in his lifetime.




playing the part of a sceptic, oxerturning hypotheses rather than setting them up; yet even here he displayed a marked preference for the corpuscular theory of matter. CARNEADES is usually considered to express
BOYLE'S own opinions;

and while CARNEADES

firmly insisted that he was no Epicurean, though often called so, he remained a believer in the particulate theory of matter (191).
Before abolishing the views of the " spagyrists" CARNEADES set

forth his own theory of matter, neatly contained in two so-called propositions:
" I. It seems not absurd to conceive, that at the first production of mixt bodies, the universal matter, whereof they among other parts of the universe consisted, was actually divided into little particles, of several sizes and shapes, variously moved. 2. Neither is it impossible that of these minute particles, divers of the smallest and neighbouring ones were here and there associated into minute masses or clusters, and did by their coalitions constitute great store of such little primary concretions or masses, as were not easily dissipable into such particles, as composed
them " (192).

Matter then consisted of particles differing in shape, size and motion; these particles by association formed primary concretions not easily split into their component particles. This is similar to the primary and secondary atoms common in the works of the peripatetic atomists such as SENNERT. BOYLE'S friends at this time tended to consider him an Epicurean(I93); but the ideas discussed above show that there was much that was Cartesian in his theory. On the basis of these earlier works, there is some justification for regarding BOYLE'S theory of matter as a relatively unessential portion of his otherwise experimental approach; he was little concerned with the differences between the two schools and rather attempted to reconcile their differences by presenting a theory of particulate matter which should be acceptable to adherents of either of the two contending philosophies. This was, however, the attitude only of his earlier years; in his subsequent works, he devoted more and more time
(191) Though the original Carneades was a sceptic, he seems sometimes to have been associated with the Epicurean philosophy. See RALPHCUDWORTH: A Treatise Concerning Eternal and Immutable Morality, Book I, chapter I. (192) Works, I, 474-5. (193) CARNEADES complained, " because I seem not satisfied with the vulgar either of the Peripatetic or Paracelsian schools, many of those, that doctrines, know me ... have thought me wedded to the Epicurean hypothesis." Works, I, 569.



and space to the exposition of his own version of the mechanical philosophy, " that philosophy, which I find I have been much imitated in calling the corpuscularian " (I94). BOYLE prepared the way for his new philosophy by publishing the Experimental History of Colours (i95), a most important work for its attempt to explain coloured bodies in terms of the action of light upon the component particles; and the Experimental History of Cold, written under the influence of BACON'Ssuggestions and ideas (I96). In each of these treatises BOYLE appeared as the thorough advocate of particulate matter, but he was still not ready to set forth his own theory. But in 1666 there appeared The Origin of Forms and Qualities, according to the Corpuscular Philosophy. This contains a really complete exposition of BOYLE'S own views on the underlying structure of matter, and also an enunciation of the " corpuscular philosophy," BOYLE'Sversion of the mechanical philosophy, together with a biting attack on the doctrine of substantial forms, a doctrine held, he noted, by most The publisher chemists, including "the learned Sennertus." carefully pointed out that BOYLE'Stheory, though similar to those of the Epicureans and the Cartesians, was yet actually a new hypothesis, " peculiar to the author, made out by daily observations, familiar proofs and experiments, and by exact and easily practicable chymical processes" (197). It was indeed a new hypothesis, completely mechanical, based upon experiment, and explored in great detail, since BOYLE hoped to make the work a guide to the elements of that complete mechanical philosophy which he developed and which he named the " corpuscular philosophy"

At the basis of this corpuscular hypothesis was a universal matter, a substance " extended, divisible, and impenetrable " (I99).
(194) Origin of Forms and Qualities (i666); Works, III, 5. (195) Published in 1664; Works, I, 662-788. (I96) See "The Author's Preface Introductory "; Works, II, 468. The book was published in 1665, but had been sent to the printer some two years earlier; according to the publisher; see p. 467. (197) " The Publisher to the Ingenious Reader "; Works, III, I-3. "This (I98) " The Author's Discourse to the Reader"; Works, III, 3-II. tract may in some sort exhibit a scheme of, or serve for an introduction into the elements of the Corpuscularian philosophy." P. 5. (199) " The Theorical Part "; Works, III, 15.



'-his matter was endowed with motion by God; in this BOYLE and repudiated the Epicurean idea of innate followed DESCARTES motion. Motion was an extremely important part of BOYLE'S theory; as he said,
But because this matter being in its own nature but one, the diversity we see in bodies must necessarily arise from somewhat else than the matter they consist of. And since we see not how there could be any change in matter, if all its (actual or designable) parts were perpetually at rest among themselves, it will follow, that to d'scriminate the catholick matter into variety of natural bodies, it must have motion in some or all its designable parts: and that motion must have various tendencies, that which is in this part of the matter tending one way, and that which is in that part tending another; as we plainly see in the universe or general mass of matter, there is really a great quantity of motion, and that variously determined, and that divers portions of matter are at rest " (2oo).

This motion is then not just innate and random, but is impressed in various directions and quantities, and is variable. Matter and motion are the primary qualities of all things, " the two grand and most catholick principles of bodies" (201). Matter endowed with motion must, at the beginning of things, have divided itself into particles; these particles possess size, shape and motion. Though theoretically divisible to infinity, these particles by their minuteness and their solidity were effectively indivisible:
" Insomuch, that though it be mentally, and by divine Omnipotence divisible, yet by reason of its smallness and solidity nature doth scarce ever actually divide it; and these may in this sense be called minima or prima naturalia " (202).

These small, solid, physically indivisible particles, the prima naturalia, were the basic building blocks of matter in general. Out of them were formed the " primitive concretions or clusters " which, though capable of being resolved back into the prima naturalia, usually acted as indissoluble units in chemical reactions, and thus were the smallest particles capable of detection, the chemical building blocks of simple bodies:
" These are, as it were, the seeds or immediate principles of many sorts of natural bodies, as earth, water, salt, &c. and these, singly insensible, become capable, when united, to affect the sense " (203).

When the primary clusters combined with one another, or with the prima naturalia they formed the corpuscles which may be
(200) Works, III, 15. (201) Works, III, i6. (202) Works, III, 29. (203) Works, III, 30.



called the physical building blocks of bodies, since it was the size, shape and, above all, characteristic motion of these corpuscles which determined the physical properties, the forms and qualities, of the body which they composed. A compound could acquire quite new properties by having a new motion impressed upon it, since motion could result in the rearrangement of the component parts and a possible alteration in the size and shape of the corpuscles by breaking the cohesion between the parts. In the last analysis, the nature of any compound depended upon the size and shape of the component parts, corpuscles or primitive concretions; the size and shape of the spaces between the parts; and, most important of all, the motion at any given moment of the parts. This insistence upon the importance of motion and its variations is an essential
part of BOYLE'S theory.

The Origin of Forms and Qualities was frankly designed to settle, once and for all, the basic principles of the underlying structure of matter. Never again did BOYLE discuss his theory of matter in such detail, except for a brief consideration of the problem of the relative or absolute rest enjoyed by the component particles of bodies, a problem raised by the Cartesian theory of cohesion (204). The theory of matter here set forth BOYLE used and constantly consistently as the basis for his corpuscular philosit was ophy; by this that, in most of his later treatises, he explained mechanically the physical properties of bodies.

VII. -


BOYLE'S purpose in developing the elaborate theory of matter described in the previous chapter is clearly indicated by the title of his important and influential Origin of Forms and Qualities which was a plea for the mechanical explanation of the properties of bodies, in terms of the size, shape and motion of the particles, as indicated by extensive experimentation. BOYLE divided the (204) Of Absolute Rest in Bodies; published in 1669 as an addition to the second edition of the Physiological Essays; Works, I, 443-57. BOYLEconcluded that there was no such thing as absolute rest, and took the occasion to stress the importance of motion of the particles in determining the properties of bodies.



properties of bodies into four categories : . " primary qualities," qualities such as heat and cold; 2. " sensible qualities," such as tastes and odours; 3. " secondary or chemical qualities "; such as fluidity, firmness, volatility, solubility; and 4. " occult qualities," such as electricity and magnetism (205). Convinced that the two principles of matter and motion could explain all these properties, he produced over the years, and seemingly at haphazard, a thorough investigation of the whole range of chemical and physical propelties of bodies, a true Baconian " discovery of forms" established upon an experimental basis. Like almost all seventeenth century scientists, BOYLE regarded heat as a mode of motion (206). If the particles which composed a solid or liquid body were but " vehemently agitated" so that their motion was greater than that of the particles which composed the hand, then the body was hot to the touch. Difference in temperature, even as measured by the thermometer, was merely a difference in the degree of agitation of the component particles of a body. The degree of heat produced did not depend in any way on the method by which the agitation of the particles was produced; fire, mechanical attrition and chemical action all produced the same results. Again and again BOYLEemphasized that the cause of heat was the agitation of the particles, however produced. For example, he wrote,
" It rather seems, that the true and genuine property of heat is, to set a moving, and thereby dissociate the parts of bodies, and subdivide them into minute particles, without regard to their being homogeneous or heterogeneous " (207).

He continually stressed the tact that heat was produced as readily by mechanical means as by fire. For,
" Provided the minute parts be sufficiently agitated, it matters not, whether the motion be produced by fire or no: for by nimbly hammering of iron or silver, you may put the minutest parts into such a motion, as will make the metal very hot to the touch" (208).

(205) Mechanical Qualities (I675); Works, IV, 235. views on heat and cold are scattered throughout his works. See (206) BOYLE'S especially The Experimental History of Cold (I665); The Mechanical Origin of Cold (in Mechanical Qualities, 1675), in which he set forth his own theory; and the various tracts contained in the Saltness of the Sea (1674). (207) Sceptical Chymist (I66x); Works, I, 488. (208) Absolute Rest (1669); Works, I, 446.



And again he noted that,

" When a hammer striking often on a nail, makes the head of it grow hot, the hammel is but a purely mechanical agent, and works by local motion " (209).

But the hammer did not make the nail grow hot as long as its force served to drive the nail into the wall; it was only when the nail itself could no longer move that the force of the hammer, now moving the particles composing the nail, made the nail grow
hot (2 1).
BOYLE carefully


any cause of heat other

than simple motion: he was able to discard the air as a cause of heat by attrition experiments carried out in vacuo, where heat was produced in the normal fashion (21I); he completely rejected the Cartesian subtle matter as the agent which agitated the particles; and he carefully, by means of an elaborate series of experiments, disposed of the Epicurean " frigorifick" particles as a cause of cold, insisting instead that cold was merely the result of a lesser agitation of the particles (212). BOYLE'S theories of fire and flame were somewhat complicated by his chemical interests. CARNEADES, in the Sceptical Chymist, had inclined toward the Epicurean view of fire as corporeal and At the same time BOYLE knew that suffi ient particulate (213). attrition could heat hard bodies to incandescence, as HOOKE,whom he cited, had shown to be the case with flint and steel (214). BOYLE'S belief in the corporeal nature of fire was bolstered by what seemed to him the only correct explanation of certain chemical
experiments mentioned by CARNEADES, who had said,
(209) Mechanical Origin of Heat (I675); Works, IV, 233. (210) Mechanical Origin of Heat; Works, IV, 249-50.

(2I I) Spring and Weight of the Air, First Continuation (1669); Works, III, 265-6. (212) See especially The Experimental History of Cold; Works, II, 462f; and the Mechanical Origin of Cold; Works, IV, 236-44. BOYLE also discussed the production of heat by chemical action in, especially, the Essay on Saltpetre (I66I); Works, I, 364f.
(213) Works, I, 523-4. (214) Languid and Unheeded Motion (1685); Works, V, 4. For HOOKE's experi-

ments, see Micrographia (1664), Observation VIII; Early Science in Oxford, XIII, 44-7. Long before, in the Defense against Hobbes and Linus (1662), BOYLE had written, " For it may be said, that the flame is little or nothing else than an aggregate of those corpuscles, which before lay upon the upper superficies of the candle, and by the violent heat were divided into minuter particles, vehemently agitated and brought from lying as it were upon a flat, to beat off one another, and make up about the wick such a figure, as is usual in the flame of candles burning in the free air." Works, I, 142.



" I could name to you... some particular experiments, by which I have been induced to think, that the particles of an open fire working upon some bodies may really associate themselves therewith, and add to the quantity " (215).

T'hese experiments were surely those later included in the important chemical tract, New Experiments to Make Fire and Flame Stable and Ponderable (216). This contained a series of careful quantitative experiments on calcination, in which BOYLEfound that many metals consistently gained weight when heated. He thought he had excluded the possibility that air might be involved in the reaction but he was here unfortunately influenced by his preconceived belief in the corporeal nature of fire. Though he had always maintained that glass was impervious to air and to most other substances, yet he was ready to conceive of very subtle and penetrating particles of flame which could pass through glass just tas did the very subtle magnetic effluvia. That fire should be corporeal was not at variance with the mechanical concept of heat, for,
" fire, which is the hottest body we know, consists of parts so vehemently agitated, that they perpetually and swiftly fly abroad in swarms, and dissipate or shatter all the combustible bodies they meet with in their way " (217).

In sum, fire is merely a collection of particles very violently agitated so that they grow hot to incandescence; some (though not all) of these particles are small enough to pass through glass and can then enter into chemical combination with other bodies.
T'here is some confusion about BOYLE'S view of the nature of

light and its relation to flame. In his early works he inclined to the corpuscular theory of light, though its corporeal nature was, he noted, in great dispute (218). Later he decided to test the question experimentally:
"I thought it worth the inquiry, whether a thing so vastly diffused as light is, were something corporeal or not ? and whether, in case it be, it may be subjected to some other of our senses, besides our sight, whereby we may examine, whether IWorks,I, 524. (216) Published with the Essays of Effluviums (1673); Works, III, 706 ff. (217) Mecnanical Origin of Heat (1675); Works, IV, 245. (2z8) For example, " the corpuscles, that make up the beams of light, whether they be solary effluviums, or minute particles of some aetherial substance," Experimental History of Colours (i665); Works, I, 704. Later, he said, " not to mention light; because its being or not being a corporeal thing is much disputed, even among the moderns," Essays of Effluviums (I673); Works, III, 706-7.
(215) Sceptical Chymist (I66I);



it hath any affinity with any other corporeal beings that we are acquainted with here below? " (219).

He intended to make an experimental comparison of the action of sunlight and the action of flame; but the English weather defeating him, only the experiments with fire, those on calcination, were ever published. It is from the statement of this project that it has been deduced that he thought light and fire to be the In fact at one time he did speak same, both corporeal (220). of light as corporeal, as " the first corporeal thing the great creator of the universe was pleased to make " (221); but later he was not so sure, and wrote of the corporeal nature of light as a probability rather than a certainty, saying,
"If light be, as probably it is, either a subtle and rapidly moving body, or at least require such an one for its vehicle, it must not be denied, that it is possible for a body without difficulty to pass through the pores of glass; since it is by its help, that we can clearly see the dimensions, shapes, and colours of bodies included in glasses. To this I shall add, that far less subtile bodies, than those, that constitute or convey light, may be made to permeate glass... as I have found by the increase of weight in some metals exposed for divers hours in hermetically sealed glasses to the action of a flame " (222).

Here BOYLE clearly felt that light, even when corporeal, was a different substance from flame. His inclination towards the corporeal nature of light was undoubtedly strengthened by his insistence upon mechanical explanations; the peripatetics considered light to be a mere substantial form, so that by contrast the corpuscular theory seemed the most mechanical view possible. BOYLE'S theory of cohesion was a combination of the Epicurean and Cartesian views. Cohesion was readily explicable on a mechanical basis
(219) Fire and Flame (I673); Works, III, 706-7. (220) This view is based solely on the discussion in Fire and Flame. It was publicized by DERHAM in his Boyle Lectures: " But with the Moderns, I take

Light to consist of material Particles, propagated from the Sun, and other luminous Bodies. ... Our noble Founder hath proved the Materiality of Light and Heat, from actual Experiments... Vide BOYLE'S Exp. to make Fire and Flame ponderable." Physico-Theology, 8th edition, 1727, footnote p. 26. BOYLE, of course, never spoke of heat as material. So distinguished an historian of science as Mme. METZGER
accepted DERHAM'S view that this was BOYLE'S final judgement chimique

so that for him fire and light were identical; see " NEWTON : la theorie de 1'emission
de la lumiere et la doctrine

on the matter,

(221) Aerial Noctiluca (i680); Works, IV, 384.

Porosity of BodieA (I684);

au xvIIIme siecle "; Archeion, XI, 1929, 13-25.

Works, IV, 790.



" As to what is very confidently, as well as plausibly pretended, that a substantial form is requisite to keep the parts of a body united, without which it would not be one body; I answer, That the contrivance of conveniently figured parts, and in some cases their juxtaposition, may, without the assistance of a substantial form, be sufficient for this matter " (223).

And though, " usually it is on the roughness and the irregularity of corpuscles, that their cohesion depends" (224), there was also possible the Cartesian view of the relative rest between the particles as the cause of cohesion, though here BOYLE was more inclined to suggest very slow motion rather than complete rest. Fluidity and firmness resulted from variation in the amount of cohesion:
"A body then seems to be fluid, chiefly upon this account, that it consists of corpuscles, that touching one another in some parts only of their surfaces (and so being incontiguous in the rest) and separately agitated to and fro, can by reason of the numerous pores or spaces necessarily left betwixt their contiguous parts, easily glide along each other's superficies, and by reason of their motion diffuse themselves, till they meet with some hard or resting body; to whose internal surface, by virtue of their motion, their smallness, and either their gravity, or something analogous or equivalent to it, they exquisitely, as to sense, accommodate

A fluid body then is one whose parts are very small; between these parts there must be pores, to permit motion of the particles; and finally, the particles must be in motion. The motion of the particles is the most important characteristic of a liquid, more necessary than the size of the particles, which alone could not make a substance liquid (226). Firmness BOYLE held to be the result of the disposition of the particles
" The firmness or stability of a body consists principally in this, that the particles that compose it, besides that they are most commonly somewhat gross, either (223) Origin of Forms and Qualities (I666); Works, III, 45. (224) Mechanical Origin of Volatility and Fixedness (I675); Works, IV, 306. (225) History of Fluidity (I66I); Works, I, 378-9. criticisms: " But in my History [of Fluidity], (226) See his answer to HOBBES' though I make the smallness of the parts, whereof a body consists, one of the requisites to its being fluid; yet at the end of the i3th section I call the various agitation of those particles the principal qualification of all, and in the beginning of the I4th section, I call it the chief condition of a fluid body." Defense Against Hobbes and Linus (1662); Works, I, 235. This was a Cartesian concept, though BOYLEstressed motion more than DESCARTES. Cf. the opinion of HENRYPOWER himself tending toward Cartesianism: " And if indeed the very nature of fluidity consist in the Intestine motion of the parts of that Body call'd fluid, as Des-Cartes happily supposed, and Mr. Boyle has more happily demonstrated "; Experimental Philosophy (1664), Preface.



do so rest, or are so intangled between themselves, that there is among them a mutual cohesion, whereby they are rendered unapt to flow or diffuse themselves " (227).

Here again though the size and, to some extent, the shape of the particles have some influence, it is primarily the amount of motion that determines the amount of cohesion. Though there is no absolute rest in nature, yet there may be relative rest:
" since, without granting such a rest in the component particles of some kind of bodies, as diamonds, iron, porphyry, &c. it will be (I conceive) very hard to explain, how there can be such solid masses (as those minerals are) made up of small and separable particles. Which being said, I added, that I saw no reason, why such a kind of firmness, where the inward motion of the insensible particles is almost infinitely slow, may not suffice to give an account of as great a firmness as we use really to find among consistent bodies" (228).

BOYLE never quite discarded the notion of there being a physical

linkage between some of the particles of solid bodies, but he more and more inclined to emphasize variation in motion as the cause of variation in solidity. Elastic fluids shared with ordinary fluids the essential properties of fluidity, smallness of the parts, space between the parts, and motion of the particles. But the nature of elasticity itself remained a difficult problem which BOYLE never solved to his own satisfaction, though he often attacked it. In the Spring and Weight of the Air he had mentioned the views of both the Cartesians and the Epicureans, but had declined to give his own opinion, irrelevant to what was then his chief object, which was to show " that the air hath a spring, and to relate some of its effects " (229). He did however note that the elasticity of the air was somehow related to the motion of the particles, though he did not then pause to explore the phenomenon, but merely remarked,
" It would not be amiss on this occasion to point at something, which may deserve a more deliberate speculation than we can now afford it; namely, that the elastical power of the same quantity of air may be as well increased by the agitation of the aerial particles (whether only moving them more swiftly and scattering them or also extending or stretching them out, I determine not)... " (230).

(227) History of Firmness (i661); Works, I, 401. (228) Absolute Rest (1669); Works, I, 444. (229) Works, I, 12.

(230) Works, I, I9-20. I, 503.

See also the Experimental History of Cold (I665); Works,



Before solving the problem of the elasticity of the air, BOYLE made some attempts to understand the elarticity of solid bodies, which, he found by experiment, did not depend upon the presence of air (231), and which he did not, with the Cartesians, believe to depend upon the action of the ether. Though he seems never to have been quite convinced, he did consider the possibility of a kinetic theory. Thus he wrote, cautiously,
" If the restitution of a spiingy body, forcibly bent, proceed only (as some learned moderns would have it) from the endeavour of the compressed parts themselves to recover their former state, one may not impertinently, take notice of the elasticity, that iron, silver, and brass acquire by hammering, among the instances that shew, what in some cases may be done by a motion, wherein the parts of the same body are, by an almost unheeded force, put to act upon one another " (232).

Once more, in the posthumously published General History of the Air, BOYLE hazarded a partly kinetic theory of elasticity, this time applied mainly to the air, and again lacking the ring of complete conviction. He began a. discussion on the nature of elasticity with an enumeration of the various possible shapes for " elastical particles "; it is difficult to say whether he believed this, or the kinetic theory, the true one. He concluded as follows,
" But possibly you will think, that these are but extravagant conjectures: and therefore, without adding anything in favour of them, I shall proceed, and willingly grant, that one may fancy several other shapes ... for these springy corpuscles, about whose structure I shall not now particularly discourse, because of the variety of probable conjectures, that I think may be proposed concerning it. Only I shall here intimate, that though the elastical air seem to continue such, rather upon the score of its structure, than any external agitation; yet heat, that is a kind of motion, may make the agitated particles strive to recede further and further from the centres of their motions, and to beat off those, that would hinder the freedom of their gyrations, and so very much add to the endeavour of such air to expand itself. And I will allow you to suspect, that there may be sometimes mingled with the particles, that are springy, upon the newly mentioned account, some others, that owe their elasticity, not so much to their structure, as their motion, which variously brandishing them, and whirling them about, may make them beat off the neighbouring particles, and thereby promote an expansive endeavour in the air, whereof they are parts " (233). (231) The Spring and Weight of the Air, First Continuation (I669); Works, III, I75-6. (232) Languid and Unheeded Motion (I685); Works, V, 28. (233) Works, V, 614-15. This is similar to the view held bv MAYOW,who was much influenced by BOYLE. MAYOWwrote, " For although aerial particles are very minute and are commonly regarded as most simple and elementary, still it seems to me necessary to suppose that they are compound, and that some



The air then is a heterogeneous substance, composed of at least two sorts of elastic particles; some particles produce elasticity because of their shape and some because of their motion under the influence of external agitation. As a chemical entity, air was something of an anomaly. BOYLE had rejected the idea that air was an elementary substance; and yet he could not completely emancipate himself from the timehonored theory. Atmospheric air was certainly heterogeneous; but its heterogeneity was not the result of a mixture of gases, but of the intermixture of solid particles of various sorts with a simple, if not elementary, elastic fluid. BOYLE defined atmospheric air as
" A confused aggregate of effluviums from such differing bodies, that, though they all agree in constituting, by their minuteness and various motions, one great mass of fluid matter, yet perhaps there is scarce a more heterogeneous body in the world " (234).

In the first place, there were always water particles diffused through the air, as hygroscopic salts clearly indicated. There were also " saline " particles; these, BOYLEthought, accounted for the rusting of metals exposed to the air for long periods. There were the magnetic effluvia. Probably the substance which promoted both respiration and combustion was also an aerial effluvium. As he said,
" The difficulty we find of keeping flame and fire alive, though but for a little time, without air, makes me sometimes prone to suspect, that there may be dispersed through the rest of the atomosphere some odd substance, either of a solar, or astral, or some other exotic nature, on whose account the air is so necessary to the substance of flame; which necessity I have found to be greater, and less dependent upon the manifest attributes of the air, than naturalists seem to have observed " (235).

The most important of the " manifest attributes" of the air was its elasticity; this BOYLE took to be the air's " most genuine and distinguishing property"; since he observed that air no longer fit for respiration or combustion retained its elastic power, he assumed that the substance necessary to support respiration and
of their parts are branchy and adhere firmly to each other as if by mutually clasping hooks; while others are extremely subtle, solid, smooth, agile, fiery and truly elementary." But MAYOWaccepted the Cartesien explanation of elasticity, and never offered any form of kinetic theory. See Medico-Physical Works (Alembic Club Reprint), p. 79-80. (234) Hidden Qualities of the Air (I674); Works, IV, 85. (235) Hidden Qualities of the Air; Works, IV, 90.



combustion was not the simple air itself but some extraneous substance. What this " odd substance " of " exotic nature " was, BOYLE could not determine; perhaps it was a "volatile nitre " similar to that postulated by HOOKE and MAYOW, more likely something as yet not known (236). BOYLE finally evolved a theory of the atmosphere as composed of three different and distinct kinds of particles :
" The first is made of that numberless multitude and great variety of particles, which, under the form of vapours or dry exhalations, ascend from the earth, water, minerals vegetables, and animals, &c. and in a word, of whatever substances are elevated by the celestial or subterranean heats, and made to diffuse themselves into the atmosphere. The second sort of particles, that make the air, may be yet more subtile than the former, and consist of such exceeding minute parts, as make up the magnetical steams of our terrestrial globe, and the innumerable particles, that the sun and other stars, that seem to shine of themselves, do either emit out of their own bodies, or by their pressure thrust against our eyes, and But because you expect from me a thereby produce what we call light... distinguishing (and as it were characteristic) quality, which may put a difference between the parts already named of the atmosphere, and those, to which most of the phaenomena of our engine, and many other pneumatical experiments seem to be due, I shall add a third sort of atmospherical particles, compared with which, I have not found any, whereto the name of air does so deservedly belong. And this sort of particles are those, which are not only for a while, by manifest outward agents, made elastical, but are permanently so, and on this account may be stiled perennial air " (237).

To the third type of particles belonged the particles composing atmospheric air and all permanently elastic factitious airs. BOYLE was here talking about the composition of gases in general; not only was air, considered as a simple substance, one of a number of gases, it was actually the embodiment of the gaseous state. The chemical properties of the atmospheric air then, as distinct from those of others airs, depended not upon those particles of the third type, which presumably were found in all gases, but upon those alien particles of the first and second sorts, small solid particles floating in, and mixed with the particles of the air. It was these alien or heterogeneous particles that entered into chemical combination and which were responsible for respiration and combustion. When they were used up, respiration or combustion was no longer possible, and what was left were the particles of the third sort, so that the elasticity of the air was
(236) Works, IV, 9I. (237) The General History of the Air (i692); Works, V, 613-15.



still apparent. There is obviously here no conception of the idea of mixed gases; there is merely one gas, with which is mingled a greater or less number of particles of other substances; it is these which account for the chemical properties of the final mixture. This concept is that generally held by seventeenth BOYLEwas following his chemical century physicists (238). predecessors when he thought of air as a physical substance but not a chemical one, that is, not one that could enter into a chemical
reaction. Both ETIENNE DE CLAVE and VAN HELMONT had held the same opinion, one still followed by BOERHAAVE in the early

eighteenth century (239). This was even the opinion of CHERUBIN

D'ORLEANS who, though

he criticized

BOYLE'S calcination


had neglected the possible role of the air, ments, because BOYLE air combined chemically with the metal; never that the yet thought the calx was for him merely a physical mixture (240). Until the chemical nature of air and of gases in general was thoroughly understood, no amount of experimentation could lead to a correct explanation of combustion and calcination. BOYLE explained even the so-called occult qualities, those of attraction, magnetism and electricity, on a strictly mechanical basis. His distaste for the concept of attraction was as violent as that of any eighteenth century anti-Newtonian. Though it was convenient to speak " of Celestial and Aerial Magnets" BOYLE had no intention of implying that there was such a thing as a force of attraction; it was merely a' convenient name for a purely mechanical process; or, as he said,
"By such a magnet as I here propose properly attract our foreign effluviums; and join with them, when by virtue of air as a fluid, they happen to accost the to speak of, I mean not a body, that can but such an one, as is fitted to detain the various motions, that belong to the magnet " (241).

He was here considering chemical attraction; there was no need,

(238) See the discussion of this point in connection with the views of MAYOW, HOOKEand LOWERby T. S. PATTERSON: "JOHN MAYOW in Contemporary Setting "; Isis, I5, 1931, 47-96 and 504-46. (239) Cf. H. METZGER: Les doctrines chimiques en France, Paris, I923, pp. 54, I78 and 190. For BOERHAAVE'S opinion, cf. A New Method of Chemistry, translated " Of SHAW,London, I741; by PETER Air," I, 384. See " Chrubin d'Orleans. A Critic of BOYLE"; DOUGLAS McKIE: (240) Science Progress, XXIX, 121, 1936, 55-67. (241) Hidden Qualities If the Air (I674); Works, IV, 96.




he was sure, for retaining any such occult property. Suction, which the peripatetics had explained by attraction, had after all been recently explained in purely mechanical terms, and partly own efforts. He hoped to do as much for the attraction by BOYLE'S favored by the chemists (242). Hygroscopic salts did not have an " attractive force " for water; it was merely that great numbers of those water particles distributed throughout the atmosphere were continually being brought into contact with the salt by the motion of the air; since the shape of the water particles was such as to fit them to enter the pores of the salt, when brought into contact with the salt the latter absorbed them. A hygroscopic salt was then one whose pores were of a shape suitable for the entrance of water particles. Similarly, the phenomenon of solution could be explained mechanically without recourse to the concept of a attractive force between the particles of the solvent and the solute, such as was said, postulated by the chemists. As BOYLE
"Most of the chemists pretend, that the solutions of bodies are performed by a certain cognation and sympathy between the menstruum and the body it is to work upon... Even in those instances, wherein it is thought most applicable, the effect seems to depend upon mechanical principles... Where there is any such similitude, it may very probably be ascribed... to the congruity between the pores and figures of the menstruum, and the body dissolved by it " (243).

Solution, like all other chemical reactions involving two substances, was caused not by attraction between the particles but by the fact that the particles of one substance could fit into the pores of the other substance. BOYLE,of course, recognized the existence of magnetic attraction, but he was convinced that it too could be explained mechanically, by means of the emission of corporeal effluvia from the loadstone (244). He never explained exactly how this worked; but he did describe in detail the mechanism of the magnetization
(242) " Of the Cause of Attraction by Suction, a Paradox." In Hidden Qualities of the Air; Works, IV, 128 ff. (243) Mechanical Origin of Corrosiveness and Corrosibility (1675); Works, IV, See also The Producibleness of Chymical Principles (1679); Works, I, 319-20. 638f. For a discussion of this and similar problems confronting seventeenth Le Mixte et. la combinaison chimique, chapters I-IV. century chemists, see P. DUHEM: (244) BOYLE's theories on magnetism are discussed in detail in the Mechanical Production of Magnetism (I675); Works, IV, 340-45. See also Cosmical Qualities (1671); Works, III, 306 ff.



of a previously unmagnetized body. He repeated GILBERT'S on the of experiments magnetism in bars of iron left production over a of time; and he noticed that if period standing upright such a bar were heated before being stood perpendicular, it would become magnetic much more quickly than an unheated bar stood in the same position. This he attributed to the fact that the heat had disposed the particles
to receive much quicker impressions from the magnetical effluvia of the earth, than it would have done, if it had still been cold" (245).

It was, he thought, the arrangement of the particles of iron that made such a bar magnetic; for,
" if there be introduced a fit disposition into the internal parts of the metal by the action of the loadstone, the metal, continuing of the same species it was before, will need nothing, save the continuance of that acquired disposition, to be capable of performing magnetical operations" (246).

T'his is a strikingly successful application of the mechanical philosophy to occult qualities. It is in curious contrast to the theories that BOYLE'S friend, Sir WILLIAM PETTY, was advancing at the same time. PETTY sketched a physical system depending, like BOYLE'S upon the two principles of matter and motion; but for PETTY all motion depended upon magnetism since the atoms were small magnets. The result was distinctly occult (247), and the contrast shows how advanced BOYLE'Stheories really were. Electrical attraction BOYLE explained in terms similar to those used for magnetic attraction. He believed that it was caused by electric effluvia, this effluvia being composed not of the Cartesian subtle body but of corpuscles which were part of the original body, and were emitted when the body was rubbed (248). The air was not involved, as BOYLE proved by experiments conducted
(245) Mechanical Production of Magnetism; Works, IV, 343. (246) Works, IV, 341. (247) The Discourse made before the Royal Society concerning the use of Duplicate Proportion; together with a new Hypothesis of Springing or Elastique Motions, atomic theory is contained in An Appendix of Elasticity, p. 121-35. I674. PETTY'S The atoms combined to form corpuscles; each atom, like a magnet, had two poles; like magnets, the atoms had two motions : that of gravity, and " the other of verticity," which accounted for cohesion; and PETTYeven went so far as to " suppose (even without a Metaphor) that Atoms are also Male and Female, and the Active and Susceptive Principles of all things." P. 132. (248) See Mechanical Origin of Electricity (I675); Works, IV, 345-54. 31

482 in vacuo.


His actual mechanism of attraction was clumsy; he supposed that the effluvium might be of a viscous material so that a stretchable string was established between the electrified body and the attracted object; when the electric body was no longer rubbed, and attraction ceased, the string contracted back
into the electric again (249).

The quality of gravity was one of the few important properties of matter for which BOYLE never offered a complete mechanical explanation. He early noted it as a problem for discussion:
" Though the effects of gravity indeed be very obvious, yet the cause and nature of it are as obscure, as those of almost any phaenomenon it can be brought to explicate " (250).

He was aware of various explanations currently being offered, for he wrote,

"So a stone may be said to strive to descend... either by the magnetical steams of the earth, or the pressure of some subtile matter incumbent upon it, or by whatever else may be the cause of gravity " (251).

PETER SHAW, BOYLE'S eighteenth



with admiring

hindsight saw in this statement an anticipation of NEWTON'S view of the role played by the ether in gravitation (252). Some years later BOYLE seriously considered the possible existence of an ether (253); this was not DESCARTES' subtle matter but an effluvium,
(249) " Not only effluvia are emitted by the electrical body, but these effluvia fasten upon the body to be drawn, and that in such a way, that the intervening viscous strings, which may be supposed to be made up of those cohering effluvia, are, when their agitation ceases, contracted or made to shrink inwards, towards both ends, almost as a highly stretched lute string does, when it is permitted to retreat into shorter dimensions :" Works, IV, 349. His attempts to test this hypothesis by experiment were inconclusive. (250) Usefulness of Experimental Philosophy, Part I (i66i); Works, II, 36-7. (251) Usefulness of Experimental Philosophy; Works, II, 39. (252) " Mr. Boyle here, and in several other parts of his works, seems to have entertain'd an opinion as to the cause of gravity, and of many abstruse phenomena of nature, like what Sir Isaac Newton hints in the conclusion of his Principia and more fully insists upon in the queries annexed to his optics... But the several experiments and observations of Mr. Boyle seem to infer, or require such an agent, yet, I find not that he imagin'd it to be so universal, and to have all the properties which are by Sir Isaac Newton ascribed to it." The Philosophical Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle Esq., Abridged, Methodized, etc. by PETER SHAW, M.D. 3 vols, I725, I, I9. (253) Cosmical Qualities (I671); Works, III, 309.



like those of electricity or magnetism, with very fine particles. As he wrote, with some hesitation:
" It may now, therefore, be not unseasonable to confess to you that I have had some faint suspicion, that besides those more numerous and uniform sorts of minute particles that are by some of the new philosophers thought to compose the aether I lately discoursed of, there may possibly be some other kind of corpuscles fitted to have considerable operacions, when they find congruous bodies to be wrought on by them; but though it is possible, and perhaps probable that the effects we are considering may be plausibly explicated by the aether, as it is really understood; yet I somewhat suspect that those effects may not be due solely to the causes that they are ascribed to, but that there may be... peculiar sorts of corpuscles that have yet no distinct name, which may discover peculiar faculties and ways of working, when they meet with bodies of such a texture as disposes them to admit, or to concur with the efficacy of these unknown agents " (254).

BOYLE never pursued the problem of the nature of this new etherial substance, which, though not like ordinary matter, was still subject to purely mechanical laws. Perhaps he discussed its nature with NEWTON; for NEWTON, writing to BOYLE in 1678 on the nature of the ether said that he had developed his ideas because of BOYLE'Sencouragement (255).

It is apparent from the above discussion how wide a range BOYLEcovered and how completely he endeavoured to explain all the more important physical and even chemical properties of bodies-the mechanical qualities, he called them. He placed very great emphasis upon the motion of the particles and explored the changes in properties which could result when the motion of the particles was altered. The size of the particles remained of importance; for example air was presumed to have small particles, and effluvia to have very fine particles indeed. The shape of the particles was far less central to BOYLE'S explanations than it had been with the Epicureans. While for GASSENDI, as later for LEMERY, a particle was an acid particle because it had sharp points which pierced other bodies, for BOYLEthe shape of the acid particle was indeterminate; a corrosive particle penetrated a body not because of its points but because its size and
(254) Cosmical Suspicions (1671); Works, III, 316; this was published with Cosmical Qualities. (255) Letter dated 28 February 1678/9; published in BIRCH's Life of Boyle; edition of NEWTON'Sworks, IV, 385-94; and Works, I, cxii-cxvii; HORSLEY'S BREWSTER : Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton, I, 409-I9. See chapter IX, infra.



shape were such as permitted it to enter readily into the pores of the solute (256). Matter and motion were the principles of all things; and increasingly, motion was becoming the more himself said, important. As BOYLE ' Because this matter being in its own nature but one, the diversity we see
in bodies must necessarily arise from somewhat else than the matter they consist of. And since we see not how there could be any change in matter, if all its (actual or designable) parts were perpetually at rest among themselves, it will follow, that to discriminate the catholick matter into variety of natural bodies, it must have motion in some or all its designable parts : and that motion must have various tendencies, that which is in this part tending one way, that which is in that part tending another" (257).



'I'he titles of BOYLE'S published works show that he was interested in almost all areas of natural philosophy, exploring pneumatics, hydrostatics, chemistry, medicine, natural history and general physics in what seems, at first glance, to be an entirely haphazard manner. His eighteenth century editor, PETER SHAW, found that it was almost impossible to arrange such a collection of experimental essays in a completely methodical manner. He apologized for this; as he said,
But as Mr. Boyle never design'd to write a body of philosophy, only to bestow occasional essays on those subjects whereto his genius or inclination led him; 'tis not to be expected, that even the most exquisite arrangement, should ever reduce them to a methodical and uniform system, tho' they afford abundant material for one " (258).

However, at the same time, SHAW described BOYLE as " the introducer, or, at least, the great restorer of the mechanical philosophy among us" (259); and modern histories of atomism have invariably included BOYLE'S name. To seventeenth and eighteenth century scientists BOYLE was most generally known as a great and ingenious experimenter, who introduced the air(256) Cf. Mechanical Origin of Corrosivenessand Corrosibility; Works, IV, 314 ff. (257) Origin of Forms and Qualities; Works, I, 5. (258) The Philosophical Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, Abridged, SHAW, M.D. " A Methodized, and disposed under the General Heads... by PETER General Preface," I, iii. (259) SHAW'SBoyle, I, i.



pump and the vacuum Boylianum into laboratory practice: while modern scientists remember him as the titular discoverer of
BOYLE'S Law, and as the " father of modern chemistry." This

latter designation is often made apologetically, with the addition that he made few chemical discoveries; but his "correct " definition of a chemical element is deemed to give him claim to this title, since he there appeared so far ahead of the chemists of his own day. Since the Sceptical Chymist is the most readily available works today (260), there has developed a tendency of BOYLE'S him the purely " Baconian " sceptical and experimental consider to naturalist, a view strengthened by his unwillingness to take sides, in the Spring and Weight of the Air, on the question of the cause of the air's elasticity (26I). He protested against this opinion of himself, already widely held in his own life-time, saying,
" For though sometimes I have had occasion to discourse like a Sceptick, yet I am far from being one of that sect; which I take to have been little less prejudicial to natural philosophy, than to divinity itself" (262).

This protest has been little noticed; and in fact BOYLE had, consciously or unconsciously, himself developed the idea that he was the perfect experimental sceptic. Much of the " Newtonian empiricism of the eighteenth century can already be found in
BOYLE'S expressed distaste for systems. He admired both DESCARTES and GASSENDI as scientists, so it is probable that most

of his professed opposition to their views and his eagerness to avoid classification as a follower of either of them was cause.d by his unwillingness to subscribe to their entire systems. Their physical ideas had a great deal of influence upon him but he wanted no part in their all-embracing world systems. He objected strenuously to the contemporary taste for system building and continually pleaded for thorough attacks on small areas of knowledge, rather than attacks on all of the natural world. As he wrote,
(260) In the Everyman edition.

(26i) The scientist to whom this description more nearly applies is EDME MARIOTTE.In his Discours de la nature de l'air, of 1676, in which he discusses the elasticity of the air, he does not devote any space at all to the possible cause of the elasticity, though he casually discussed the particles of air in connection with its rarefaction and condensation. See the reprint in the series " Les maitres de la pensee scientifique," Paris, 1923, p. 1-63, especially pp. 1-9, 38-48. (262) Producibleness of Chymical Principles (I679; appended to the second edition of the Sceptical Chymist); Works, I, 591.



" It has long seemed to me none of the least impediments of the real advancement of true natural philosophy, that men have been so forward to write systems of it, and have thought themselves obliged either to be altogether silent, or not to write less than an entire body of physiology" (263).

Though he disliked world-systems,


readily accepted

DESCARTES' notion of the physical world as an integrated whole,

a concept that became so extremely fruitful in the hands of

NEWTON. BOYLE constantly insisted that there were no isolated

systems in nature, such as those the scholastics had delighted to picture; every bit of matter was a part of the world and hence continually acted upon by diverse forces. A? he said, " A body is not to be considered barely in itself, but as it is placed in, and is a portion of the universe " (264). BOYLEalways spoke of the world as a machine, a " self-moving engine," a " great piece of clock-work " comparable to the intricate Strasbourg clock (265), with God as the clock-maker. This was to BOYLE by no means a derogatory comparison, for,
"It more sets off the wisdom of God in the fabric of the universe, that he can make so vast a machine perform all those many things, which he designed it should, by the meer contrivance of brute matter managed by certain laws of local motion and upheld by his ordinary and general concourse " (266).

Similarly, BOYLE took from DESCARTES the idea of the body as a machine, and again he regarded the mechanical comparison as flattering. For the fact of " the body of an animal being not a rude and indigested lump of matter, but a curious engine admirable framed and contrived for the exercice of several functions " (267), made it very wonderful and admirable. This
(263) Physiological Essays (I66I); Works, I, 300. (264) A History of Particular Qualities (1671; part of Cosmical Qualities); Works, III, 303; see also p. 296. This was part of his usual plea for mechanical explanations and the inadmissibility of innate qualities. (265) This simile is common; cf. for example, The Excellency of Theology (i674); Works, IV, 49; " So that the world being but, as it were, a great piece of clockwork, the naturalist, as such, is but a mechanician." See also Origin of Forms and Qualities (I666); Works, III, 24 and 34. (266) Vulgarly Receiv'd Notions of Nature (I686); Works, V, 162. There is an interesting parallel here with NEWTON'S view as expressed in the final scholium of the Principia and the 3Ist Query of the Opticks. (267) Porosity of Bodies (I684); Works, IV, 760. The human body he also regarded as a machine; "For I take the body of a living man to be a very compounded engine, such as mechanicians would call hydraulico-pneumatical." Final Causes (I688); Works, V, 442. Cf. Essays of Effluviums (1673); Works,



is a change from the attitude of DESCARTES and a foreshadowing of the eighteenth century point of view; it is in line with the Baconian emphasis upon the practical application of knowledge and is some measure of the growing importance of the machine in seventeenth century life. For advancing the doctrine of the world-machine (soon to become the Newtonian world-machine) BOYLE was especially commended by his editor SHAW,who wrote approvingly,
"He will never allow us to consider the world as a rude heap of dull, inactive matter; but convinces us, that it is a grand and noble machine, continually actuated, inform'd, and govern'd by a most wise and beneficent Being, who keeps all the parts thereof in motion, and makes them act upon one another according to certain laws " (268).

One great objection to world systems, such as that of DESCARTES, was that they were based upon a priori, experimentally indefensible
And like NEWTON, BOYLE disliked such hypotheses. hypotheses. BOYLE would have agreed thoroughly with the pronouncement of WILLIAM WOTTON, who said,
" And therefore, that it may not be thought that I mistake every plausible Notion of a Witty Philosopher, for a new Discovery of Nature, I must desire that my former Distinction between Hypotheses and Theories may be remembered. I do not here reckon the several Hypotheses of Des Cartes, Gassendi. or Hobbes, as Aquisitions to real Knowledge, since they may only be Chimaera's, and amusing Notions, fit to entertain working Heads. I only alledge such Doctrines as are raised upon faithful Experiments, and nice Observations; and such Consequences as are the immediate Results of, and manifest Corollaries drawn from, these Experiments and Observations: Which is what is commonly meant by Theories " (269).

This is an excellent analysis of what NEWTON meant when, in the final scholium to the Principia, he defined hypotheses as theories " not deduced from the phenomena" or what BOYLE meant when he admitted only hypotheses " founded in nature." BOYLE'S extreme dislike of formulating theories in advance of experimental evidence often led him, as it was to lead NEWTON, into postponing the formulation of any theories at all. Thus in the Experimental History of Cold of 1665 he wrote rather smugly,
III, 685, where the concept is referred back to the Usefulness of Experimental Philosophy. (268) SHAW'SBoyle, " General Preface," I, viii. (269) WILLIAM WOTTON : Reflections upon Ancient and Modern Learning, second edition, 1697, p. 262-3.



"I presume it will easily be taken notice of, that in the following history I have declined the asserting of any particular hypothesis, concerning the adequate causes of cold. Not but that I may have long had conjectures about that matter, as well as other men, but I was willing to reserve myself an intire liberty of declaring what opinion I most inclined to, till the historical part being finished, I may have the better opportunity to survey and compare the phaenomena " (270).

Hypotheses, BOYLE felt, should always grow out of experimental data, and stand or fall by their agreement with experiment; or, as he expressed it, " the hypothesis... is to be collated with, and to be either confirmed or disproved by the historical truths that will be delivered " (27I). This method accounts in some measure for the seemingly extreme lack of continuity in BOYLE'S published works. Apparently he performed, or had performed, experiments in all areas of natural philosophy, not attempting a systematic attack on any one area but investigating any that were of interest at the moment; yet always the experiments were directed to one end, to the exploration and illumination of the properties of bodies. These experiments were filed under appropriate headings and when enough had been accumulated on any one topic, they were written up and sent to the printer. This haphazard method of attack could only have been successful if an underlying plan were present in BOYLE'S mind. There was certainly a connecting link between various parts of this miscellany; this is demonstrated by the frequency with which BOYLE makes cross-references to his various treatises. The connecting thread which held this mass of essays together was clearly the corpuscular philosophy, BOYLE'S own version of the mechanical philosophy, and his faith in its successful application to all areas and aspects of natural philosophy. His program was quietly set forth in one of his earliest works, where he said,
" I hoped I might at least do no unseasonable piece of service to the corpuscular philosophers, by illustrating some of their notions with sensible experiments, and manifesting, that the things by me treated of may be at least plausibly explicated without having recourse to inexplicable forms, real qualities, the four peripatetick elements, or so much as the three chymical principles " (272).

(270) Works, II, 478. It was not until the Mechanical Quality of Heat and Cold of 1675 that BOYLEcared to expound his own, purely mechanical opinion; see Works, IV, 236 f. (271) Origin of Forms and Qualities (I666); Works, III, I4. (272) Physiological Essays (i66i); Works, I, 356.



Almost everything in nature could be, BOYLE both believed and showed, studied in the light of the corpuscular philosophy and thereby seen to be simply, rationally and mechanically explicable (273). In this light even the Sceptical Chymist and the Spring and Weight of the Air were part of a planned campaign. Even the presumably mystical medicinal properties of gems could be reasonably explained by the theory that they emitted corporeal effluvia. As BOYLE remarked,
" When I considered how difficult it was to assign any thing that is possible and intelligible (which I do not take a substantial form to be) whence their virtues may probably be derived, without giving some... account of the origin of gems themselves... I could not but wish that something were attempted on that subject according to the principles of the Corpuscular philosophy" (274).

This was in fact the great project that occupied BOYLE'S scientific life, the substitution of mechanical explanations, in terms of matter and motion, for the current peripatetic and spagyrical substantial forms and innate qualities. Matter and motion were far more simple and universal principles than peripatetic forms, and were infinitely better suited to the explanation of the many and diverse
properties of bodies (275). BOYLE'SEnglish admirers commonly referred to him, not merely

as a great promotor of the corpuscular or mechanical philosophy, but as its inventor or restorer. This may seem unwarranted in one whose work was later than that of GASSENDI and DESCARTES; and in fact, it was the English who considered BOYLE the founder of the mechanical philosophy; the French, while they praised
BOYLE'S work, gave priority to DESCARTES (276). When RICHARD BENTLEYin his Boyle Lectures described the revival of the mecha(273) BOYLEexplored problems in physics, chemistry, physiology, medicine and natural history in terms of the corpuscular philosophy. For example, his theory of colours (put forward in The Experimental History of Colours of 1664 (Works, I, 662 ff.) is generally taken as marking the end of the belief that colour was innate in a body; it was the basis for the discussions on colours undertaken and by LOCKE. by NEWTON here developed the theory (274) Essay on Gems (i672); Works, III, 415. BOYLE that all gems were originally in the fluid state. (275) Cf. Excellency and Grounds of the Mechanical Hypothesis (1674); Works, IV, 67 ff., especially 71-5. (276) Cf. the Encyclopidie, articles " Corpusculaire " and "Corpuscules " with the Encyclopedia Britannica, second edition, 1778, article "Corpuscular philosophy."



nical philosophy, it was to BOYLEthat he gave the most prominent place:

" The mechanical or corpuscular philosophy, though peradventure the oldest as well as the best in the world, had lain buried for many ages in contempt and oblivion, till it was happily restored and cultivated anew by some excellent wits of the present age. But it principally owes its re-establishment and lustre to Mr. Boyle, that honourable person of ever blessed memory, who hath not only shewn its usefulness in physiology above the vulgar doctrines of real qualities and substantial forms, but likewise its great serviceableness to religion itself " (277).

To this opinion should be added the much earlier statement of the publisher of The Origin of Forms and Qualities:
" And though the most noble author hath herein, for the main, espoused the atomical philosophy (corrected and purged from the wild fancies and extravagancies of the first inventors of it, as to the origin of the universe...) in explicating the appearances; yet, considering the several alterations and additions, (the happy product of his penetrating judgement) made therein, I may not scruple to call it a new hypothesis, peculiar to the author, made out by daily observations, familiar proofs and experiments, and by exact and easily practicable chymical processes " (278).

It was not just patriotism that made these men believe that BOYLE had contributed something to the mechanical philosophy beyond the improvements made by DESCARTES; analysis of their statements will lead us to what really was new in BOYLE'S work. These statements agree that a part of BOYLE'S service to the mechanical philosophy was to reconcile the atomic theory with religion. Both DESCARTES and GASSENDI had been careful to avoid any dispute with the Church and both had allowed for the divine creation of the world. BOYLEregarded the corpuscular philosophy, not merely as consonant with religion but as a mainstay in its support. He always warmly defended his reputation from charges of atheism; in fact he hoped
" That some more religious, than, in this matter, well informed men, will be induced to think, that what they call the new philosophy may furnish us with some new weapons for the defense of our ancientist creed; and that the corpuscularian principles may not only be admitted without Epicurean errors, but may be employed against them " (279). (277) RICHARDBENTLEY: A Confutation of Atheism (the BOYLE Lectures); Works, edited by A. Dyce, London, I836-38, III, 74. (278) " The Publisher to the Ingenious Reader," Origin of Forms and Qualities (i666); Works, III, 1-2. (279) Considerations on the Possibility of Resurrection (I675); Works, IV, I92.



It was not merely that the corpuscularian hypothesis, as a tool of natural philosophy, explored the world and exhibited its wonders and hence provided possible support for natural religion. The corpuscular hypothesis, BOYLE believed, was a better foundation for natural religion than any other physical hypothesis; partly because it was truer, but chiefly because its principles, matter and motion, were so simple and yet explained the working of the physical world more easily and more comprehensively than any other principles (280). The increased explicability of the world and the marvellous precision with which this great machine worked were in BOYLE'S opinion the best possible support for natural religion. Important as this aspect of BOYLE'Scorpuscular philosophy was to the seventeenth century (and it certainly aided its acceptance), it was far from being his most original contribution. One very important factor was that his theory was unconnected with any philosophical system. The early seventeenth century atomists, though professedly anti-Aristotelian, had leaned heavily toward peripatetic doctrines. GASSENDI had associated with his purely physical atomism a physiological, psychological, philosophical system. Similarly Cartesian physics was only a part of Cartesian philosophy; and even the Cartesian theory of matter was almost inextricably associated with the other and less acceptable parts of Cartesian physics. BOYLE, however, saw a place in natural philosophy for an eclectic particulate theory of matter, a mechanical philosophy unassociated with any specific scientific or philosophical system, which should yet have principles sufficiently universal to enable it to explain all the properties of bodies, as DESCARTEShad not done. The followers of various philosophies had been, BOYLE noticed, reluctant to accept the corpuscular philosophy because they thought that " it pretends to have principles so 'universal and so mathematical, that no other physical hypothesis can comport with it, or be tolerated by it." This was not the case; there was no reason why the corpuscular philosophy should conflict with the tenets
(280) See The Excellency of Theology (i674); Works, IV, 34-67; and The Excellency of the Mechanical Hypothesis (the two works published together); Works, IV, 67 ff., especially, p. 7i.



of any scientific As he said,


at least with any experimental


" By this very thing, that the mechanical principles are so universal, and therefore applicable to so many things, they are rather fitted to include, than necessitated to exclude, any other hypothesis, that is founded in nature, as far as it is so " (281).

But of course there were then current many physical systems not "founded in nature "; and BOYLE rejected all hypotheses not based His insistence that the experimental philosophy upon experiment. was the only true guide for the study of the external world is And NEWTON, a clear foreshadowing of Newtonian empiricism. like BOYLE, did not allow his empiricism to interfere with his BOYLE tried always to corbelief in the mechanical philosophy. relate his theory with his experiments; he is the first who, strictly following BACON'S insistence upon the all important function of yet managed to produce, if not an experimentally experiment, based system, at least a coherent body of work held together by a connecting thread of theory, the corpuscular philosophy grounded upon experiment. lies in another, of the mechanical and Baconian equally philosophy aspect of his BOYLE explained theory. away by means of the corpuscular philosophy not merely some of the peripatetic substantial forms and real qualities-DESCARTES had done so much-but all of them. One by one, basing his conclusions on sound experimental evidence, BOYLE explained mechanically each of the common chemical and It is significant that one of his physical properties of bodies. was works entitled Mechanical important Qualities; it was here that he gave his own corpuscular, mechanical explications of the qualities heat, cold, tastes, odours, acidity, volatility, fixedness, Even more significantly corrosiveness, magnetism, electricity. entitled was The Origin of Forms and Qualities, of which he himself wrote,
" But whether we have tieated of the nature of forms and qualities in a more comprehensive way than others; whether we have by new and fit similitudes and examples and other means rendered it more intelligible than they have done; whether we have added any considerable number of notions and arguments, towards the compleating and confirming of the proposed hypothesis; ... we willingly leave the reader to judge " (282).
(28I) Excellency of the Mechanical Hypothesis; Works, IV, 72. (282) Origin of Forms and Qualities (I666); Works, IV, 9. And as he further

BOYLE'S real claim to the title of the founder



And as he added, " the origin,... and nature of the qualities of bodies, is a subject that I have long looked upon as one of the most important and useful that the naturalist can pitch upon for his contemplation " (283). In this he was a true follower of BACON. For when BACON called, in the Advancement of Learning, for " the of forms" he meant precisely this, that the common discovery properties of bodies should be studied experimentally and explained upon a basis more intelligible than that of the scholastic substantial forms and innate qualities (284). An almost equally good appraisal of BOYLE'S contributions to natural philosophy was given by
WILLIAM WOTTON, who wrote,
many Experimental Writers... have taken abundance of Pains to state the whole Doctrine of Qualities clearly, and intelligibly; that so Men might know the difference between the Existence or Essential Nature of a Body, and its being represented to our Senses under such or such an Idea. This is the Natural Consequence of proceeding upon clear and intelligible Principles; and resolving to admit nothing as conclusive, which cannot be manifestly conceived, and evidently distinguished from every thing else- Here, if in any thing, the old Philosophers were egregiously defective: What has been done since, will appear, by consulting, among others, the Discourses which Mr. BOYLEhas written upon most of the considerable Qualities of Bodies, which come under our Notice; such as his Histories of Fluidity and Firmness, of Colours, of Cold, his Origin of Forms and Qualities, Experiments about the Mechanical Production of divers praticular Qualities, and several others, which come under this Head; because they are not Notions framed only in a Closet, by the help of a lively Fancy; but genuine Histories of the Phaenomena of Natural Bodies; which appeared in vast Numbers, after such Trials were made upon them, as were proper to discover their several Natures " (285).

One of BOYLE'S important innovations was to demonstrate the usefulness of chemistry, not merely to medicine or to the practical arts, but to natural philosophy, that is, to the development of
said, " That then which I chiefly aim at, is to make it probable to you by experiments (which I think hath not yet been done) that almost all sorts of qualities, most of which have been by the schools either left unexplicated or generally referred to I know not what incomprehensible substantial forms, may be produced mechanically..." p. 13. (283) Origin of Forms and Qualities; p. I. (284) Cf. " The Publisher to the Ingenious Reader "; Origin of Forms and debt to BACON, see my " BOYLE Qualities; p. 2. For a fuller discussion of BOYLE'S as a Theoretical Scientist "; Isis, 41, 1950, 261-64. (285) Reflections upon Ancient and Modern Learning, second edition, 1697, p. 262. It may be recalled that WOTTONhad intended to write a life of BOYLE,so that his knowledge of BOYLE'S work was extensive. He also had a clear picture of the accomplishments in a number of areas of science during the seventeenth century.



physical theory. There had been no question of the usefulness of chemistry to medicine since the foundation of the iatro-chemical school; and every Baconian recognized the possibilities inherent in the practical applications of chemistry. But the activities of the alchemists and the somewhat mystical and vague terms of the chemists' theory of matter ran counter to the increasingly clear-eyed view of the world being developed by the physicists, and gave chemistry a bad name with the mathematically inclined scientists who hardly considered chemistry a part of natural philosophy. BOYLE was certainly to some extent outside the main stream of seventeenth century science in that his experimental philosophy was non-mathematical, even sometimes intentionally so (286). But though the mathematico-experimental approach was new at the time, the use of chemistry to " explicate" natural philosophy was radical. BOYLE was passionately interested in chemistry and the majority of his experiments, except for some of his work in pneumatics and hydrostatics, were chemical in nature; these experiments were used, in general, to explain the properties of matter, to illustrate and confirm the corpuscular philosophy. It was true that the theory of the ordinary spagyrical chemist was erroneous and completely useless to the physicist, but his experiments deserved attention; for
" The operations of chemistry may be misapplied by the erroneous reasonings of the artists, without ceasing to be themselves things of great use, as being applicable, as well to the discoyery or confirmation of solid theories, as the production of new phaenomena, and beneficial effects... And this I am the rather induced to say, because the experiments, that chemistry furnishes, may much assist a naturalist to rectify the erroneous theories, that oftentimes accompany them, and even those (mistakes) that are endeavoured to be evinced by them " (287). (286) The Hydrostatical Paradoxes (i666) were specifically designed to demonstrate the principles of hydrostatics to non-mathematicians; Works, II, 740-41. Cf. SWITZER'S statement, "I have added this other chapter from the honoured and learned Mr. Boyle, in which with more Ease yet great Accuracy and Plainness he has brought to Light whatever was mathematically, and so more obscurely, handled by others." An Universal System of Water and Water-works, Philosophical and Practical, 1734, p. I40. In this light, BOYLE'S avoidance of mathematics resembles a Baconian attempt to make science available to the artisan and tradesman. (287) Reflections upon the Hypothesis of Alkali and Acidum (1675; part of Mechanical Qualities); Works, IV, 29I. Cf. Producibleness of Chymical Principles (1679); "Nor it is only to the practical part of natural philosophy that I



Thus if the physicist could bring himself to disentangle the useful experimental work of the chemist from the false theories that the chemist favored, these very experiments could be turned against the chemist and made to demonstrate the true theory of matter. Though in physics proper the Aristotelian theory of matter had been largely replaced by the atomic theory of GASSENDI and the other Epicureans or the particulate theory of DESCARTES,in chemistry the peripatetic four elements and the spagyrical tria prima divided the allegiance of the chemists between them. But the physicist, who was capable of introducing a rational theory of matter into chemistry, had ordinarily neither the desire nor the ability to study seriously the involved, often mystical, still alchemical science; while the ordinary chemist neither knew of nor cared for the needs and interests of natural philosophy and was completely satisfied with his somewhat hazy conceptions. was the chemist who could bridge the gap. He had very BOYLE early perceived that chemistry could be of use in explaining " the principles of natural bodies "; this was the purpose behind the Sceptical Chymist (288). Chemistry was in fact the natural key to the structure of matter as LEMERY, also an atomist, believed:
" But if we would come as near as may be to the true Principles of Nature, we cannot take a more certain course than that of Chymistry, which will serve us as a Ladder to them; and this division of substances, though it seem a little gross, will give us a very great Idea of Nature, and the figure of the first small particles which have entered into the composition of mixt bodies" (289).

One of BOYLE'S major objectives was to " beget a good understanding betwixt the chymists and the mechanical philosophers," who in general looked upon one another with complete scorn,
take chymistry, as it may be managed, to be highly useful, but I confess, I think also, that being ordered by a skilful naturalist, it may far more conduce, than those, that are strangers to it are wont to think, to the speculative part of physicks... Many... natural bodies never afford much light to philosophy till chymical operations have qualified them to do so "; Works, I, 591. One of the Physiological Essays was written because " there seemed requisite some speculations which might shew that chymical experiments might be very assistant even to the speculative naturalist in his contemplations and inquiries." Works, I, 355. (288) " The Author's Preface " to Producibleness of Chymical Principles, a work annexed to the second edition of the Sceptical Chymist; Works, I, 587. (289) N. LfMERY: A Course of Chemistry, translated from the 5th French
edition by WALTER HARRIS, 2nd edition, i686. LiMERY was in general far more

and far less interested in natural philosophy. empirical than BOYLE, mechanical philosophy niay have had some. influence upon him.




the chemists despising the corpuscularian philosophers as mere theorists, "empty and extravagant speculators" who tried to explain all nature while ignoring the entire field of chemistry; and the mechanical philosophers despising the chemists " as a company of mere and irrational operators, whose experiments may indeed be serviceable to apothecaries, and perhaps to physicians, but are useless to a philosopher, that aims at curing no disease
but that of ignorance" (290). BOYLE himself was no " empty

and extravagant speculator" but an able chemist who thoroughly distrusted all theory not based on experiment. At the same time he was vitally interested in the problems that the natural philosophers were, in general, discussing from the mathematical and purely theoretical standpoint and he saw the opportunity to advance the knowledge of the physical properties of bodies by their study through chemical experiment. It was through the use of chemical experiment that he was able to attain his amazing success in banishing substantial forms and innate qualities from natural philosophy and replacing them with mechanical explanations, a process which he hoped would prove of use to the chemist as well as to the physicist. Because BOYLE'S experimental work was mainly in the field of chemistry he is usually classified as a chemist; considering his special interests, however, we may plausibly consider him as a physicist, as many of his contemporaries did. His editor PETER SHAWfound that the bulk of BOYLE'Swork belonged more appropriately under the headings of " Physics " and "Pneumatics" than under those of " Chemistry " and " Natural History "; as SHAWobserved, since physics is the science which is concerned with the explanation and discovery of the properties of bodies,
" hence it is, that so considerable a part of Mr. Boyle's works stands under the head of physics; for he discover'd abundance of new properties in bodies which had been but little consider'd; at least, had not been mechanically consider'd, before his time " (291).

In this light even the Sceptical Chymist is a treatise on physics (292). BOYLE'S very clarity and simplicity of outlook was more typical of the seventeenth century physicist than that of the contempo(290) Physiological Essays (I66I); Works, I, 358-9. (291) SHAW'S Boyle; Preface to the section on Physics, I, I85. (292) Though SHAWactually placed it under the heading of Chemistry.



raneous chemist; it was this divergence in outlook that FONTENELLE noted as the outstanding difference between BOYLEand the French chemist DU CLOS, who had undertaken to present a critical analysis of BOYLE'S work to the Academie des Sciences. FONTENELLE wrote,
" Ce savant Anglais avoit entrepris de rendre raison de tous les Phenomenes Chymiques par la Philosophie corpusculaire, c'est-a-dire, par les seuls mouvemens & les seules configurations des petits corps. M. du Clos, grand chymiste aussibien que M. Boyle, mais avant peut-etre un tour d'esprit plus Chymiste, ne trouvoit pas qu'il fit necessaire, ni meme possible, de rdcuire cette science a des principes aussi clairs que les figures & les mouvemens, et il s'accommodait sans peine d'une certaine obscurite specieuse qui s'y est assez etablie... La Chymie, par des operations visibles, resout les corps en certains principes grossiers & palpables, sels, soufres, &c. Mais la Physique, par des speculations delicates, agit sur ces principes, comme la Chymie a fait sur les corps, elle les resout eux-memes en d'autres principes encore plus simples en petits corps mus et figures d'une infinite de faqons: voila la ptincipale difference de la Physique & de la Chymie, & presque la meme qui etoit entre M. Boyle & M. du Clos " (293).

By these standards BOYLE was certainly a physicist; perhaps he can be considered as one of the first exponents of chemical physics. BOYLE was certainly the first physical chemist, a title he deserves of his attempts to apply physical methods to chemistry reason by and to use the corpuscular hypothesis to elucidate chemical as well as physical phenomena (294). In so far as he used the corpuscular philosophy to explain the chemical properties of bodies he was amazingly successful and it was here, as perhaps the first to treat chemistry as a branch of natural philosophy (physics) that he had the greatest influence upon later physicists and chemists. But he failed in his further attempt to replace the spagyrical doctrine of chemical principles by a purely corpuscular theory of matter which would be as useful to the working chemist as the theory it was to replace. BOYLE'S definition of a chemical element is startlingly modern in the sense that it is acceptable in the light of modern chemical discovery; but it is not truly modern since it provided no useful concept for the chemists of
(293) Histoire de l'Academie Royale des Sciences, 1666-1698; 2 vols, Paris, I777, : Les doctrines section Chymie for 1669, p. 96-97. Also quoted in H. METZGER chimiques, 267-8. (294) Cf. Physiological Essays (i66i); Works, I, 358-9, where the use of the corpuscular philosophy as an aid to chemistry is considered as urgent a project made as the use of chemistry in establishing the corpuscular philosophy. LEMERY some use of his atomism to explain chemical reaction, but in a fairly naive and definitely empirical fashion.




the time. Modern discussions of BOYLE'Sdefinition often overlook the fact that this seemingly correct definition led BOYLE to doubt the existence of any elementary substance whatsoever; he was inclined to believe that, while there were certainly simple substances, these were all heterogeneous basically, since they were composed of aggregates of dissimilar corpuscules (295). It apparently never occurred to him to consider the case where a large number of identical corpuscles combined; for him, all substances were composed of heterogeneous particles, a result of the enormous variety of corpuscles possible when a wide range of size and shape (and possibly even weight) (296) was admitted. Besides the range in size and shape, there was the further, and very important, property of characteristic motion, which also possessed wide limits. The recognition of the existence of many simple, reproduceable chemical compounds did not lead him to the concept of the existence of elements. This was part of his violent reaction against the peripatetic and chemical use of water, air, earth, salt, sulphur, mercury; since these theories had proved unfruitful he became over reluctant to admit the true simplicity of any similar substances. established no simple chemical principles except Certainly BOYLE the basic ones of matter and motion; and these, though useful to the physicist, could not yet be so to the chemist. BOYLE knew that certain " primary clusters " (a sort of molecule) could remain unchanged through a whole series of chemical reactions (297);
(295) Cf. Sceptical Chymist, the Sixth Part: " though it may seem extravagant, yet it is not absurd to doubt, whether, for ought has been proved, there be a necessity to admit any elements, or hypostatical principles at all"; Works, I, 562. And again, " Since, I say, these things are so, I see not why we must needs believe that there are any primogeneal and simple bodies, of which, as of pre-existent elements, nature is obliged to compound all others. Nor do I see why we may not conceive that she may produce the bodies accounted mixt out of one another by variously altering and contriving their minute parts, without resolving the matter into any such simple and homogeneous substances as are pretended"; Works, I, 583. (296) BOYLEknew that the Epicureans ascribed weight as well as size and shape to atoms (cf. Sceptical Chymist; Works, I, 570) and he of course ascribed gravity to corpuscles, since they were material (cf. Fire and Flame; Works, III, 709); but through he occasionally implied that corpuscles had different weights (he referred to their specific gravities; see Mechanical Origin of Fixedness; Works, IV, 306, and to the " bulk, size and motion " of particles in the Chemists' Doctrine of Qualities; Works, IV, 281) he never made specific use of this concept. (297) See the Essay on Saltpetre; Works, I, 359-76.



but he took this merely as a proof of the corpuscular theory, not realizing that actually it indicated a correct approach to a truer understanding of chemistry and to a useful elementary theory. BOYLEcould explain the results of a reaction in purely corpuscular terms and his particulate theory of matter was eminently suited to the explanation of the properties of bodies; but the corpuscular hypothesis did not help him to predict the result of a reaction nor could it help differentiate between simple and complex chemical substances. The very clarity of the two corpuscular principles may have led to confusion by causing the oversimplification of a genuinely complex problem; DU CLOS was not alone in objecting to this emphasis on simplicity, and it may be significant that the fundamental concepts of modern chemistry are expounded to the young student in terms which BOYLE would have considered At occult. the rate, distressingly any though corpuscular theory was not denied by later chemists, since it was physically completely acceptable, it was ignored in actual practice or combined with one of the old elementary doctrines. Thus LEMERY combined particulate matter with the five chemical principles; and BOERwho was strongly influenced by BOYLE, combined particulate HAAVE, matter with the four Aristotelian elements (298). LEMERY was unusual in that, though a highly empirical chemist, he made some actual use of his corpuscular theory in interpreting chemical reactions; later chemists almost universally relegated any discussion of the nature of matter to the introductory section of their treatises and then proceeded to describe and discuss the operations of chemistry without recourse to theory (299). Certain of BOYLE'S chemical theories had profound influence upon later chemists and physicists; for example his hypothesis of the corporeal nature of fire and his explanation of calcination in terms of the combination of fire particles with the substance calcined. The belief in the corporeal nature of fire gave extra support to the corpuscular theory of light and simultaneously helped to produce the idea of heat as a particulate fluid. When the idea of fire as corporeal was combined with the Cartesian
BOERHAAVE: (298) N. LEMERY:Cours de chimie, 5th edition, 1683. HERMANN Elementa chemiae, translated by PETERSHAW as A New Method of Chemistry, second edition, 1741. Les doctrines chimiques, p. 451. (299) Cf. H. METZGER:



view (that heat was caused by the motion of the particles under the influence of the matiere subtile or ether) the result xw'asthe eighteenth century theory that a body became hot because the component particles were agitated by fire, an all-pervasive, material substance. Later, heat became connected with caloric, still a material, particulate, elastic fluid like the earlier fire; while another particulate fluid, phlogiston, was substituted for fire in the explanation of calcination (300). LEMERY had adopted
BOYLE'S theory

that the gain in weight of a calcined substance was caused by the addition of material fire; and BOERHAAVE, under the influence of BOYLE, developed and spread the general theory of a corporeal
and particulate fire (301). The material, particulate elastic fluids

so common in eighteenth century physics and chemistry are derived almost equally from the Cartesian ether and the work of BOYLE who had done so much to establish the nature of that most common elastic fluid, atmospheric air, and had explained so many of the phenomena of nature in terms of subtle, particulate effluvia (302). The eighteenth century electricians in particular looked to BOYLE as one of the founders of their science; as DUFAY, sketching the history of the subject, noted,
"A peu pres dans le meme tems, le fameux Boyle fit des experiences sur 1'Electricite. II etoit difficile qu'un sujet aussi curieux ne fit pas a son tour l'objet des reclerchvs d'un homme qui a parcouru avec tant d'exactitude toutes les parties

(300) Cf. for example P. J. MACQUER:[lemens de chymie theorique, 3 vols.,

1741, I, 10-13, and his Dictionnaire de chymie, 2 vols., 1766, article " Feu "; also A. BEAUMt: A AIanual of Chemistry, 2nd edition, 1786, p. 18-35. MUSSCHENBROEK noted that " many experimenters, following Boyle, have justly ascribed

weight to fire "; Elements of Natural Philosophy, translated by JOHN COLSON, 1744, p. 89. (30i) NICOLASLEMERY: Cours de Chymie; nouvelle edition, revue, corrigee & augmentee d'un grand nombre de notes, by BARON,I756, p. 113; BARON cites BOYLE as the first to put forward this theory of calcination. For BOERHAAVE, see A New Method of Chemistry, r741, " Of Fire," I, 206-379. BOERHAAVE'S theory of fire was adopted almost intact by numerous eighteenth century writers; cf. Mme DU CHATELET: Dissertation sur la nature et la propagation du feu, 1744, and Louis DE BEAUSOBRE : Dissertations philosophiques, dont la premiere roule sur la nature du feu, 1753. LAVOISIER'S caloric did not differ essentially from BOERHAAVE'S fire; cf. H. METZGER:La philosophie de la matiere chez Lavoisier, 1935, p. 38-44. (302) See especially, Notes &c. about the Atmospheres of Consistent Bodies here below (I669, annexed to the Spring and Weight of the Air, First Continuation); Works, III, 659 ff.



de la Physique, & a qui nous avons obligation d'un si grand nombre de belles decouvertes " (303).

The influence

of BOYLE on science

and scientific



been obscured by the greater reputation and achievements of

but even neglecting the importance of BOYLE'S thought

for the development of NEWTON'S own empiricism there is much evidence for the direct influence of BOYLE upon later scientists. In general, eighteenth century Newtonians used BOYLE'S theories
and experiments to supplement those of NEWTON. When SAMiUEI CLARK introduced ROHAULT'S Traite de physique into Englanld,

where it became a standard physics textbook, he based his work, adding experiments and correcting notes upon NEWTON'S
observations drawn from BOYLE (304). PETER SHAW had edited BOYLE with notes drawn from Newtonian physics; he edited the Newtonian BOERHAAVE with notes from NEWTON and from BOYLE. BOERIAAVE himself had the highest opinion of BOYLE whom he

listed as one of the first of " the writers who have treated of chemistry with a view to natural philosophy" (305), that is treated chemistry as a physical science. BOERHAAVE adopted this attitude toward chemistry and devoted a large portion of his Elementa Chemiae to a discussion of the physical properties of those important chemical "instruments " Fire, Air, Water and Earth. His point of view, almost identical with that of BOYLE,is summarized at the conclusion of the section on Air, as follows:
"And here I should end my history of air, wherein I have laboured to shew how necessary a knowledge of natural philosophy is to a chemist; and indeed, all those arts, whereby natural philosophy may be improved; as without these, a chemist will everywhere fall into errors himself, and impose upon others, by assigning false causes for true ones " (306). MUSSCHENBROEK mentioned

BOYLEin his discussion of the atomic

(303) " Premier memoire sur 1'electricite "; Memoires de l'Academie des Sciences for 1733; in the abridged edition of the Histoire et memoires, Amsterdam, 1737,
p. 31-49.

(304) Rohault's System of Natural Philosophy, illustrated with Dr. Samuel Clark's Notes; taken mostly out of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophy, English edition, 1723. The comment of an eighteenth century Cambridge tutor who wrote up a list of books for the use of his students, is of interest: " In Rohault's Physicks read the Opticks-the footnotes are the valuable part of the rest of the work." C. WORDSWORTH: Scholae Academicae; I877, p. 336. (305) A New Method of Chemistry, I, 55-60. (306) I, 434.



experiments on the mechanical production theory and cited BOYLE'S of heat, the corporeal nature of fire, and the elasticity of the
air (307). KEILL used BOYLE'Sexperiments to confirm his theories;

as he said,
" Nor is it an easy Matter to shew, how much suceeding Ages will be obliged to the Geometrical Demonstrations of the illustrious Monsieur Huygens, concerning the Motion of Pendulums; or to the curious Experiments of the honourable Mr. Boyle, whereby he has disclosed many wonderful Secrets of Nature " (308). MACLAURIN wrote even more glowingly, " As Lord Bacon's plan comprehended the whole compass of nature, so the variety of enquiries prosecuted by Mr. Boyle, with great care and attention, is very surprizing, and perhaps not to be parallel'd. Hydrostatics, tho' a most useful branch of mechanical philosophy, had been but ill understood, till he established its principles, and illustrated its paradoxes, by a number, of plain experiments, in a satisfactory manner. The doctrine of the air afforded him an ample field; and, in all his researches, he shewed a genius happily turned for experimental philosophy, with a perfect candour, and a regular condescension in examining with patience, and refuting without ostentation, the errors which philosophers had been led into from their prejudices, and the many artful subterfuges by which they strove to support them" (309).

LOCKE, who in many ways represented for the eighteenth century

the real spirit of Newtonean empiricism, derived his scientific

outlook from BOYLE and SYDENHAMrather than from NEWTON.

" '(310). Thus LOCKEtook from BOYLEthe emphasis on " qualities

The Essay on Human Understanding is filled with ideas derived from BOYLE, particularly from The Origin of Forms and Qualities and their explanation in terms of " the bulk, figure, number, and motion " of the parts or atoms of the body (311). BOYLE'S work on pneumatics naturally was widely influential.

(307) Elements of Natural Philosophy, especially chap. ii, I, 22-3; chap. vii, 1, 89; and chap. xxvi, II, 28 f. and i80 f. KEILL: An Introduction to Natural Philosophy, 5th edition, I758; (308) JAMES Preface, ix; see also Lecture 5, passim. : An Account of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophical (309) COLIN MACLAURIN Discoveries, second edition, 1750, p. 64. This praise is surprising in view of MACLAURIN'S marked mathematical tastes. (3IO) Cf. FULTONH. ANDERSON:"The Influence of Contemporary Science on LocKE's Method and Results "; University of Toronto Studies in Philosophy, in Oxford, and had compiled meteorological had known BOYLE II, i, 1923. LOCKE tables for BOYLE, which were published in The General History of the Air (I692); Works,V, 655-83; these tables covered the period between I666 and 1683, with gaps. (31 ) An Essay Concerning Human Understanding appeared in I690, though written earlier. See especially book II, chap. viii; also Book IV, chap. III. LOCKE'S position he states as follows: "I have here instanced in the corpuscularian



Even Cartesians like REGISand MALEBRANCHE made use of BOYLE'S

experiments with the air pump and on the elasticity of air (312).
BORELLI,the iatrophysical follower of GALILEO,regularly received BOYLE'S books, including the important Origin of Forms and

Qualities and the pneumatic works, through his correspondents of the Royal Society (3I3). The Swiss JAMES BERNOUILLI was a passionate admirer of BOYLE, quoting him on every occasion. His discussion of air in the De gravitate cetheris of 1683 is based avowedly on BOYLE'S work; it is there that he refers to BOYLE'S LAW as a " law or rule " (314). HUYGENS was a great admirer of BOYLE whom he met in England and whose works he took care to obtain as they appeared (315). It was as a " Baconian " experimentalist that he honored BOYLE; he regretted that BOYLE had never made use of his experiments to found a system. As
he wrote LEIBNIZ, after BOYLE'S death,
" II paroit assez etrange qu'il n'ait rien basti sur tant d'experiences dont ses livres sont pleins; mais la chose est difficile, et je ne l'ay jamais cru capable d'une aussi grande application qu'il faut pour establir des principes vraiseniblables. II a bien fait cependant en contredisant a ceux des Chimistes" (316).

BOYLE in fact came to be regarded as the ideal experimentalist, the greatest of the seventeenth century according to BECCHER (317),
hypothesis, as that which is thought to go farthest in an intelligible explication of the qualities of bodies; and I fear the weakness of human understanding is scarce able to substitute another, which will afford us a fuller and clearer discovery of the necessary connection and coexistence of the powers which are to be observed united in several sorts." Book IV, chapter iii, paragraph 16. (312) MouY: La physique cartesienne, p. 159 for RIGIs; pp. 265 and 272 for MALEBRANCHE. (3I3) Cf. RIGAUD:Correspondenceof Scientific Men, II, 520-23. Letter CCCXIV, WALLISto BORELLI, dated i670. BORELLI was himself an atomist who believed in the vacuum, and made use of BOYLE'S theories of air. See De motionibus naturalibus, I686 (first published I670), chap. V, p. 130 ff. (314) Opera, Geneva, 1744, vol. I, 47-163. He discussed the pneumatic" rules" at some length; Rule IV is BOYLE'S Law; of Rules III and IV he said: "Veritas utriusque hujus regulae manifesta fit duobus curiosis experimentis ab Illustr. Dn. Boylio hanc in rem factis, quae videsis in Tractatu ejus contra Linum, Cap. V, cui duas Auctor subjunxit Tabulas pro diversis Condensationis & Rarefactionis gradibus," p. 91. (315) See the HUYGENS correspondence, passim, especially that with OLDENBURG, in the CEuvrescompletes de Christiaan Huygens. to LEIBNIZ,4 Fevrier 1692, CEuvresde Huygens, X, 239. (316) HUYGENS (317) " Roberto Boyle prae omnibus nostro saeculo palmam concederem." J. J. BECCHER ; Physica subterranea, 1699, sectio quartae, caput primum; quoted by DUHEM: Le mixte, 35.

of his books


who had lived and worked in England, and who dedicated one
to BOYLE (318).



frequently cited BOYLE'S experiments and even accepted BOYLE'S For the rationalists theory of the composition of the air (3I9). BOYLE was a typical example of the needless expenditure of energy involved in the empirical approach; LEIBNIZ agreed with SPINOZA, that BOYLE used experiment where reason would have sufficed:
" M. Boyle... s'arreste un peu trop, pour dire la verite, a ne tirer d'une infinit6 de belles experiences d'autre conclusion, que celle, qu'il pouvoit prendre pour principe, savoir, que tout se fait mecaniquement dans la nature, principe qu'on peut rendre certain par la seule raison, et jamais par les experiences, quelque nombre qu'on en fasse " (320).

To the majority of physicists, good Newtonian empiricists as they gradually became, BOYLE'Sgreatest scientific achievement was his emphasis upon experiment. He was cited over and over again in the eighteenth century by those men who were trying to introduce the spirit of experiment into science in place of the " esprit de systeme " (32i). BOYLE, with his insistence that experiment precede theory, represented the spirit of Newtonian empiricism, in its non-mathematical aspects, as well as NEWTON himself. His greatest achievement was undoubtedly his establishment of a comprehensive mechanical philosophy, the corpuscular philosophy, upon a solid foundation of brilliant experiment. After BOYLE opinions on the correct explanation of the properties of bodies changed but there was never any question of occult qualities.
referred to BOYLE (3I8) Mineralisches ABC, 1723; in the dedication BECCHER as his patron; see FULTON: Bibliography of Boyle, 361. (319) Philosophical Principles of Universal Chemistry, 1730 (PETER SHAW'S translation and abridgement of STAHL'SCollegium Jenense) esp. p. 62. See also appendix to the Physica subterranea, 1738, p. 68-71. Specimen Beccherianum, STHAL'S (320) Nouveaux essais sur l'entendement, livre IV, ch. XII; Die Philosophischen Schriften von Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, ed. by GERHARDT, I882, V, 437. LEIBNIZ here referred to a letter written by SPINOZA to OLDENBURG in i66i. Cf. LEIBNIZ'S in iEuvres de Huygens, X, 228-9, dated 8 janvier I692 : earlier letter to HUYGENS Je m'ettonerois si M. Boyle qui a tant de belles experiences ne seroit arrive a quelque theorie sur la Chymie, apres y avoir tarit medite. Cependant, dans ses livres et pour toutes consequences qu'il tire de ses observations, il ne conclut que ce que nous scavons tous sgavoir, que tout se fait mecaniquement." in his preface to his translation of HALES'Vegetable Staticks, (321) Cf. BUFFON of BOYLE, 1725; experiment is the method of NEWTON,of BACON,of GALILEO, of STAHL;p. v-vi. See also the plea for experiment at the end of BAKER'S An Attempt towards a Natural History of the Polype, 1743, p. 206, with a long quotation " on the importance of the experimental approach. from " the great Mr. BOYLE



had established, once and for all, that every one of the known properties of bodies could and should be explained in terms of those " grand and catholick" principles of matter and motion.

The corpuscular philosophy of BOYLE had demonstrated conclusively that the properties of bodies could all be explained mechanically. The overthrow of the peripatetic forms and qualities was no longer a matter of urgent concern. NEWTON, accepting the achievement of BOYLE, built upon its foundations a new theory of matter. For NEWTON, as for BOYLE, matter and motion were the basic principles of nature; where NEWTON departed from BOYLE was on the question of the cause of the diverse motions to be found in nature. The earliest record we have of NEWTON'S views on the nature of matter are the notes made by him while at Cambridge from
From these it is apparent that NEWTON was much 1661-65 (322). influenced by DESCARTES, HENRY MORE and BOYLEin his rejection

of continuous matter and acceptance of a theory of " atomes." He was already endeavoring to explain the optical properties of bodies, particularly their colors, by the characteristics of the component particles. This theory was developed in the hypothesis of light and colors which he somewhat reluctantly presented to the Royal Society in 1675 (323). Here he spoke of both light to the atomistic conception as a thing to be taken for granted " (324). In 1675 a particulate theory could indeed be taken for granted by any serious scientist; NEWTON, like most of his scientific contemporaries, found it natural to speak of the parts, particles and corpuscles of bodies interchangeably and without explanation
(322) See A. R. HALL: "Sir ISAACNEWTON'SNote-Book, I66I-65 "; The Cambridge Historical Journal, IX, no. 2, 1948, 239-50. (323) See T. BIRCH: History of the Royal Society of London, I756; III, 247 ff., letter to OLDENBURG of 25 January I675/6 is reprinted in DAVID 298 ff. NEWTON'S Memoirs of the Life, Writings and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton, BREWSTER: 1855, I, 390 f. and the Atomic Theory "; Newton Tercentenary (324) S. I. VAVILOV: NEWTON Celebrations, p. 47.

and matter as particulate;

as VAVILOVhas noted,

"NEWTON refers



or defense. NEWTON'S theory of colors, as suggested here and in later works, is an obvious development and extension of that suggested by BOYLEin his Experimental History of Colours of
1664. NEWTON made use of BOYLE'S work on the production

of colors by the mixing of various liquors (325), and went much beyond BOYLE in his attempt to account for the degree of opacity or transparency exhibited by bodies. The atoms or " least parts of bodies " were themselves, he thought, transparent; opacity was caused by " the multitude of reflections caused in their internal parts." In this memoir too NEWTON discussed the possible correlation between the size of the corpuscles which composed a body and the color of the body, a correlation which he eventually developed in semi-quantitative fashion in the Opticks (326). Much of NEWTON'S later study of colors was directed toward the explanation of the structure of matter (327). As HALLEY remarked,
" These experiments [on expansion of liquids with heat] compared with the specifick gravities of Liquors, their refractions,... and the other phenomena of Fluid bodies may possibly afford some light to discover the hidden secret of the figures and motions of the Constituent parts of the most simple substances, by which we must begin if wee shall ever hope to attain a true and adequate notion of materiall substances " (328).

never stressed the point, a particulate theory Though NEWTON of matter underlay the whole structure of the Principia. The importance of such a theory NEWTON indicated in the preface to the first edition, where he wrote,
" I wish we could derive the rest of the phenomena of Nature by the same kind of reasoning from mechanical principles, for I am induced by many reasons (325) BIRCH: History of the Royal Society, p. 296-7. For example, NEWTON noted, " By mixing divers liquors, very odd and remarkable productions and changes of colours may be effected, of which no cause can be more obvious and natural, than that the saline corpuscles of one liquor do variously act upon, or unite with, the tinging corpuscles of another." (326) Opticks, Fifth edition, I93I. Book Two, Part III, especially propositions VII and VIII, p. 255-69. wrote at the beginning of Book II of the Opticks, discussing (327) As NEWTON the colors of thin films, " In the former Book I forebore to treat of these Colours. ... But because they may conduce to farther Discoveries for compleating the Theory of Light, especially as to the constitution of the parts of natural Bodies, on which their Colours or Transparency depends, I have here set down an account of them," p. 193-4. (328) Correspondence and Papers of Edmond Halley, edited by E. F. MACPIKE; paper read before the Royal Society 14 March I687/8, p. 138.



to suspect that they may all depend upon certain forces by which the particles of bodies, by some causes hitherto unknown, are either mutually impelled towards one another, and cohere in regular figures, or are repelled and recede from one another. These forces being unknown, philosophers have hitherto attempted the search of Nature in vain; but I hope the principles here laid down will afford some light either to this or some truer method of philosophy" (329).

It will be noticed that NEWTON was here emphasizing the importance of motion in the particles under some force capable of producing both impulsion and repulsion. He thought of discussing this matter more fully in the General Scholium which he wrote for the second edition of the Principia, but in the end he merely outlined the problem in the final paragraph (330). Unlike the Cartesians, and unlike the majority of later Newtonians, NEWTON believed in true atoms, that is, in small indivisible particles as the basis of all matter (33I). Like BOYLE and miny earlier writers he believed that these atoms united to form more complex particles, of various degrees of aggregation. The ultimate particles or atoms were hard (332), solid in the sense that they had no pores, and completely indivisible (333). From the association of these atoms or " least particles " arose aggregates of a higher order; particles of the first composition NEWTON called them at one time (334). By association these primary aggregates formed more complex particles which correspond, very roughly, to the modern molecules. These particles of higher composition
(329) Newton's Principia. A Revision of Motte's Translation by FLORIAN CAJORI, p. xviii. " The inclosed is the Scholium wCh I promised to send (330) He wrote COTES, you, to be added to the end of the book. I intended to have said much more about the attraction of the small particles of bodies, but upon second thoughts I have chose rather to add but one short Paragraph about that part of Philosophy." Letter LXXV, dated 2 March I712/3, in J. EDDLESTON : Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes, p. 147. atomic theory is to be found scattered through the Principia (33I) NEWTON'S and, in more detail, the Queries to the Opticks. (332) Principia; " Rules of Reasoning in Philosophy ": "That abundance of bodies are hard, we learn by experience; and because the hardness of the whole arises from the hardness of the parts, we therefore justly infer the hardness of the undivided particles... We conclude the least particles of all bodies to be... extended, and hard, and impenetrable...," p. 399. (333) Opticks, Query 31, p. 389-90. Lexicon Techni(334) De natura acidorum, English translation by JOHNHARRIS; cum, 2nd. edition, 1723, Introduction to vol. II. NEWTONthought that gold could be transmuted or at least brought into chemical combination, if some solvent could get between the pores of the first composition.




were composed of simpler particles between which were relatively large interstices(335). These interstices or pores NEWTONvariously described as empty and as filled with his own peculiar ether; this was a subtle and elastic fluid, but distinguished from the Cartesian ether by its rarity. In the Opticks NEWTONmade an attempt to calculate the ratio of the volume of the interstices to the volume of the solid particles; this convinced him that all matter was exceedingly porous and that even seemingly solid bodies contained a large amount of empty space. He was, however, compelled to conclude that " what is really their inward Frame is not yet known to us " (336). It was the proportion of empty space to solid matter that determined the density of a substance. For the ultimate particles did not differ in weight (337); and therefore density was a direct measure of the amount of matter contained in a body. Hence it is that the mass is defined in terms of the density. For NEWTON, all substances were particulate, including light and ether. Newtonian light differed not at all, except in the size of the particles, from ordinary matter. Light was affected by the force of attraction in exactly the same way as any other substance (338); and light and matter could be mutually interconverted (339). Bodies emitted light under the influence of any agent that would cause sufficient agitation of the particles--heat, friction, chemical activity (340). Flame was " nothing but the particles of smoke turned by the access of light and heat to burning
Query 31, (335) Opticks, Book Two. Part III, Prop. VIII, p. 267-9; p. 389-90. (336) Opticks, Book Two. Part III, prop. viii, p. 268-9. did not endow his particles with specific (337) It is sometimes said that NEWTON shape; but though he made less use of the different possible shapes of atoms than had BOYLE,he does seem to have thought they had characteristic figures. Cf. the famous Query 31, "All these things being consider'd, it seems probable to me, that God in the Beginning form'd Matter in solid, massy, hard, impenetrable moveable Particles, of such Sizes and Figures, and with such other Properties..." remarked the possibility that p. 400. At almost the end of this query, NEWTON the particles were created of different densities; p. 404; HORSLEY found this suggestion completely incomprehensible in 1782; see NEWTON'S Opera Omnia, IV, 263, footnote xx. (338) See Principia; Scholium to prop. XCVI of Book I, sect. XIV, p. 229-30; and Opticks, query I, p. 339. (339) Opticks; Query 30, p. 374. (340) Opticks; Query 8, p. 340.



coals, little and innumerable " (341); or, as NEWTON later inquired, " Is not Fire a Body heated so hot as to emit Light copiously? " (342) and " Is not Flame a Vapour, Fume or Exhalation heated red hot, that is, so hot as to shine? " (343) Thus for NEWTON fire was only the light emitted by heated bodies; and all bodies, when their particles were sufficiently agitated emitted light. Whether the material of light was already present in the body, or whether it was derived from the breakdown of some of the particles of the body (for the matter of light was the same as the matter out of which solid bodies were constructed) is not made perfectly clear. This sketch of the theory of matter developed by NEWTON in all his works, though only discussed in detail in the Queries to the Opticks, has so far not included the most important concept introduced by NEWTON, the concept of forces of attraction and repulsion. These were the forces which accounted for the motion of the particles which composed terrestrial bodies as well as for the motion of the heavenly bodies. As he said,
" The Vis inertiae is a passive Principle, by which Bodies persist in their Motion or Rest, receive Motion in proportion to the Force impressing it, and resist as much as they are resisted. By this Principle alone there never could have been any Motion in the World. Some other Principle was necessary for putting Bodies into Motion; and now they are in Motion, some other Principle is necessary for conserving the Motion" (344).

And NEWTON like BOYLE, recognized

the great importance


change in motion in the particles as a cause of the properties of bodies. The concept of the existence of forces of attraction and repulsion has been such a fruitful one that we are inclined to wonder why NEWTON'S contemporaries often rejected it and labeled attraction an occult quality. It must be remembered how recently physics had banished the forms and qualities of peripatetic theory, the
(341) Letter to OLDENBURG, 25 January 1675/6; in BREWSTER: Memoirs of

Newton, I, 395. (342) Opticks; Query 9, p. 341. (343) Opticks; Query o1, p. 341-3. Earlier NEwrON had concluded that " flame and vapour differ only as bodies red-hot and not red-hot "; cited in A Catalogue of the Portsmouth Collection written by or belonging to Sir Isaac Newton, Cambridge, x888, p. 22. (344) Opticks; Query 31, p. 397.



force of attraction to account for suction, and the forces of sympathy and hostility to account for chemical action. Contemporary mechanically minded scientists were, quite reasonably, reluctant to admit anything approaching the recently outmoded methods of explanation. NEWTON admitted that attraction might appear occult, since it was inexplicable; but he felt that it was better to explain cohesion by a force which, though its cause was unknown, could be shown to exist experimentally, than to explain it by the naive concept of hooked atoms, or by what he considered the genuinely occult property of relative rest between the parts (345). Similarly, it was nearer the truth, and a more empirical method of approach, to explain the elasticity of the air by postulating a force of repulsion between the component particles, rather than to imagine that the particles were shaped like hoops or springs (346). to consider and finally It may well be asked, what led NEWTON a such of one so universal the force, mysterious concept accept that it could account for gravitation, cohesion and even chemical operations? For NEWTON recognized this force as occult, or at least inexplicable; he could not, as some of his followers did, claim that attraction was really more mechanical than the more widely accepted, by now conventional explanations (347). That he did not derive it from magnetic attraction seems pretty certain; magnetism was no longer an occult quality, but was explained himself mechanically by the action of a magnetic effluvia, as NEWTON The most it source is the always explained (348). probable theory of chemical attraction so widespread among seventeenth century chemists, a theory familiar to NEWTON through his study of chemistry. For as is now well known, NEWTON pursued the study of chemistry with intense interest and great application and with
(345) Opticks; Query 31, p. 388-9. (346) Opticks; Query 31, p. 396. (347) Cf. JOHN KEILL: " Although now-a-days the mechanical Philosophy is in great Repute, and in this Age has met with many who cultivate it, yet in most of the Writings of the Philosophers, there is scarce anything mechanical to be found besides the Name. Instead whereof, the Philosophers substitute the Figures, Ways, Pores and Interstices of Corpuscles, which they never saw; the intestine Motion of Particles, the Collucations and Conflicts of Acids and Alkalis, and... the Miracles of their subtile Matter..." An Introduction to Natural Philosophy, 5th edition, 1758, Preface, p. iii. (348) Opticks, Book Two. Part III, plop. VIII, p. 267; and Query 22, p. 353.



a more scientific end in view than that conventionally ascribed to him (349). When NEWTON'S real study of chemistry began we do not know; his notebooks of I655-58 indicate merely boyish interest, and there is no direct evidence for any serious pursuit of the science during the i66o's (350). The letter to FRANCIS ASTON of I669, in which NEWTON advised that young traveler to learn as much as possible about mining, metallurgy and the transmutation of metals in Germany and Holland indicates merely a general chemical interest (35I). However, by 1675 NEWTON was seriously engaged in the study of chemistry, for in June of that year JOHN COLLINS wrote JAMES GREGORY that " Mr NEWTON intends not to publish anything, as he affirmed to me, but intends to give in his lectures yearly to the public library, and prosecutes his chemical studies and experiments "; and in October COLLINS again referred to " Mr NEWTON (whom I have not writ to or seen these eleven or twelve months, not troubling him as being intent upon chemical studies and practices)... " (352) NEWTON'S letter to OLDENBURG of January i675/6 though primarily concerned with his hypotheses
(349) NEWTON'S biographers have always felt called upon to assume that there must have been something discreditable in NEWTON'S interest in alchemy and chemistry, and have been inclined to gloss over this aspect of his work or to assume that he was merely trying to disprove alchemy. For the conventional view, see BREWSTER : Memoirs of Newton, chapters II and XXV; L. T. MORE: Isaac Newton, The best 1934, chap. VI; and S. I. VAVILov: Isaac Newton, I945, chap. 1. actual work in chemistry and his possible purpose is that analysis of NEWTON'S of DOUGLAS McKIE: "Some Notes on NEWTON'sChemical Philosophy written upon the Occasion of the Tercentenary of his Birth "; Philosophical Magazine, ser. 7, 33, 1942, 847-70 and the same author's "Newton and Chemistry"; Endeavour, I, I942, 141-4. The article by LYMAN C. NEWELL: "NEWTON'S Work in Alchemy and Chemistry "; Sir Isaac Newton I727-I927, is chiefly of value for the quotations given from various notebooks kept by NEWTON. Very important are the abstracts and summary of NEWTON'Schemical experiments given in the Catalogue of the Portsmouth Collection, I888, section II, especially part IV; Parts I-III cover the items listed in The Catalogue of the Newton Papers sold by Order of the Viscount Lymington, 1936. The most recent account is an Alchemist? "; Chymia, II, 27-36. R. J. FORBES:" Was NEWTON (350) NEWELLbelieves that NEWTONmay have had a laboratory from I66i on, but there is little real evidence on this point. See Sir Isaac Newton I727-1927, p. 207; extracts from the early notebook are given pp. 209-12. : Memoirs of Newton, I, 387-9. (351) Quoted in BREWSTER (352) H. W. TURNBALL: James Gregory Tercentenary Memorial Volume; London, I939, Letter 97, dated 29 June I675, p. 310-II, and Letter o09, dated I9 October I675, p. 339.



on the nature of light and the cause of colors, contains a number of chemical references (353). Similarly, in the letter to BOYLE of I678 on the subject of the ether, NEWTON developed a chemical
theory in some detail (354). BOYLE and NEWTON were evidently

on friendly terms by this time; and indeed, BOYLE had presented

NEWTON with a copy of the Essays of Effluviums of 1673 (355). From the list of books in his library (356), we know that NEWTON owned many of BOYLE'Sworks; and he made extensive notes from

those, such as the Experimental History of Colours and The Origin of Forms and Qualities, that he did not own (357). BOYLE'Sinfluence on NEWTON was very strong; we have no information on the question of how or when they became friends and correspondents, but probably it was after NEWTON'S election to the Royal Society
in 1671/2;
BOYLE may even

have encouraged

NEWTON to study

chemistry seriously. Evidently NEWTON was a confirmed student of experimental

chemistry some ten years before HUMPHREY NEWTON became his in which, HUMPHREY reported, " he was

amanuensis and watched him perform experiments for six weeks

every fall and spring,

the most accurate, strict, exact " (358). These experiments are probably those described in the laboratory notebook which formed part of the Portsmouth Collection; these are some of them dated 1682-4, and a number of them form the experimental basis of the chemical discussions in the Opticks. The Principia of 1687 offered very little oportunity for the inclusion of the chemical subjects which NEWTON was concurrently investigating; the only chemical discussion is that dealing with the composition of the tails of comets (359). In 1692 NEWTONwrote his only purely chemical paper, the De natura acidorum. This was published in
the second volume of the Lexicon Technicum of 17Io; HARRIS
(353) BREWSTER: Memoirs of Newton, I, 390-409, especially 397-8. : Memoirs of Newton, 409-19; see especially p. 414. (354) Quoted in BREWSTER (355) See FULTON: "A Bibliography of ROBERT BDYLE," p. 74. This copy was offered for sale in 1926. (356) R. DE VILLAMIL:Newton: The Man, p. 62 f. contains a list of all the books in NEWTON'S library. (357) See Section II, Part VI of the Catalogue of the Portsmouth Collection, p. 21-4; and HALL: "NEWTON'SNote-book, I66x-65," passim. : Memoirs of Newton, II, pp. 93, 95-6. (358) BREWSTER (359) Principia, Book III, prop. xlii, especially p. 542. NEWroN thought that the comets might serve to replenish the supply of terrestrial minerals.



described it accurately enough as concerned with " the Reason of the Ways and Manner of all Chymical Operations, and indeed of almost all the Physical Qualities, by which Natural Bodies, by their small Particles, act upon one another " (360). Much of this paper was included in the Opticks. NEWTON was quite clearly not a mere alchemist, interested only in the transmutation of base metals into gold; like BOYLE and many others he was interested in the reactions of metals, especially of gold. Transmutation was still a scientific possibility. But NEWTON'S main purpose was more chemical than alchemical, and was in fact very much in the tradition BOYLE had established.
" The design of our author [BOYLE], in some of the following pieces, was to shew how advantageously chymistry, which thro' ill management had almost ruin'd philosophy, might be applied to the purposes of it. A design which the great Sir Isaac Newton has executed so far, as, by means of that art, to account for most of the operations of nature, in the smaller portions of matter; as, by a like sagacity, he has, with universal applause, solved the phaenomena of the
larger " (361).

Similarly STUKELY, by no means a friend to chemistry, noted that " by this means Sir ISAAC carried his inquiry very far downwards into the ultimate component parts of matter " (362). There is further testimony from the Dutch chemist BOERHAAVE:
But if any one shall still retain a doubt of the worth and abilities of chymistry, to reward those who cultivate it; let him consider the practice and procedure of the happiest philosopher the world ever yet cou'd boast, the great Sir Isaqc Newton; who, when he demonstrated the laws, actions, and the powers of bodies, from a consideration of their effects, always produces chymical experiments for his vouchers; and when, to solve other phenomena, he makes use of these powers, his refuge is to chymistry; whence he manifestly shews, that without the assistance of this art, even he cou'd hardly have explained the peculiar nature and properties of particular bodies " (363).

This is exactly what BOYLE had done when he used chemical experiments to " illustrate and confirm" the corpuscular philosophy; NEWTON, like BOYLE, recognized that chemistry could very
(360) Lexicon Technicum, vol. II, 2nd edition, 1723, Introduction (unpaged). (361) SHAW'SBoyle (I725), I, I86. (362) Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton's Life; quoted by McKIE: Phil. Mag. (<942), p. 687-8. (363) Serm. Chemia, p. 39-40, quoted by SHAWin his edition of BOYLE, II, cclx. 33



profitably be applied to the study of the component particles of matter. It had for long been the habit of the spagyrical chemists to attribute to chemical substances a force of "sympathy" or a occult and attraction, mysterious property, unexplained, but which was useful in accounting for the existence of chemical had attacked when he reactions. It was this force which BOYLE insisted that all chemical reactions, such as solution and the action of hygroscopic salts, could be explained on a purely mechanical basis. But NEWTON, as a chemist, seems to have been at least in sympathy with the chemical attraction school and even to have had also attacked. accepted that acid-alkali hypothesis which BOYLE Thus in 1675 NEWTON was writing that " some things unsociable are made sociable by the mediation of a third" (364); and in his letter to BOYLE he stated, " There is a certain secret principle in nature, by which liquors are sociable to some things and unsociable to others " (365). The De natura acidorum presented a sketch of a real theory of chemical attraction. Acids, NEWTON wrote,
" are endued with a great Attractive Force; in which Force their Activity consists... They are of a middle Nature, between Water and Terrestrial Bodies and attract the Particles of both " (366).

NEWTON defined acids in terms of attractive force, " For whatever

doth strongly attract, and is strongly attracted, may be called an Acid." This is curiously close to the non-mechanical acid-alkali theory of ANDRE, who also held a particulate theory of matter, though a theory of far less sophistication than that of NEWTON (367). In fact, there appears little to chose between the occult forces of sympathy and antipathy and the Newtonian attraction and repulsion. NEWTON,however, was able to systematize his ideas, to obtain a real theory of chemical attraction; he finally arrived at the point where he could give a list of metals in the order with
Letter to OLDENBURG; BREWSTER : Memoirs of Newton, I, 398. BREWSTER : Memoirs of Newton, I, 414-5. Lexicon Technicum, II, Introduction. F. ANDRE : Entretiens sur l'acide et sur l'alkali, 2nd edition, I680; cf. METZGER: Les doctrines chimiques, p. 207-8. For NEWTON'S later theories on acids, see Opticks, Query 31, p. 385-6. (364) (365) (366) (367)


5I 5

which they would displace one another from solution : a portion of the electromotive series (368). Alongside his theory of attraction NEWTON developed a very important theory of repulsion. At first he had used attraction of different degrees to account for chemical solution; that is, particles of the solid were presumed to be more strongly attracted by the particles of the solvent than they were by one another, so that the cohesion of the substance was destroyed and it dissolved (369). Later he accounted for the diffusion of the solute particles by supposing a force of repulsion to exist between them once they were far enough apart so that the cohesive force of attraction was no longer operative (370). The reflection of light he thought to be caused by repulsion of the rays by the reflecting particles, without any contact between the light and the solid particles. The emission of light was effected by the repulsive force set up between the ray of emitted light and the particles of the body as soon as the light had left the area of attraction (37'). And vaporization was performed in a similar manner. The elasticity of fluids could best be explained in terms of repulsion between
the particles. NEWTON had derived BOYLE'SLaw in the Principia,

is a physical question. We have here demonstrated mathematically the property of fluids consisting of particles of this kind, that hence philosophers may take occasion to discuss that question " (372).

though there he would not assume that the elastic fluids found in nature were necessarily of the same constitution as his ideal fluid; as he said, " Whether elastic fluids do really consist of particles so repelling each other,

But in the Opticks he clearly believed that elastic fluids did indeed
(368) Opticks, Query 31, p. 380-81. NEWTONlists iron, copper, silver, tin, lead and mercury, noting which metal will replace the other in solution. Memoirs of Newton; I, 415-6. (369) Letter to BOYLE;BREWSTER: (370) Opticks, Query 31, p. 387-8, 395. (371) Opticks, Query 4, p. 339. Cf. Query 31, p. 395: For the Rays are repelled by Bodies in both these Cases [Reflexion and Inflexion], without the immediate Contact of the reflecting or inflecting Body. It seems also to follow from the Emission of Light; the Ray so soon as it is shaken off from a shining Body by the vibrating Motion of the Parts of the Body, and gets beyond the reach of Attraction, being driven away with exceeding great Velocity." Cf. PRIESTLEY: Disquisitions Relating to Matter and Spirit, 2nd edition, 1782; "It has been demonstrated by Sir IsAACNEWTON,that the rays of light are reflected by a power of repulsion acting at some distance from the body," p. 19. (372) Principia, Book II, Section V, prop. xxiii, and Scholium, p. 300-302.



consist of mutually repellent particles. Particles in general had powers of attraction and of repulsion; for,
" As in Algebra, where affirmative Quantities vanish and cease, there negative ones begin; so in Mechanicks, where Attraction ceases, there a repulsive Virtue ought to succeed " (373).

Each particle was surrounded by a sphere or area of attraction; where this stopped, a sphere of repulsion succeeded; beyond this again, there was a second sphere of attraction, that of gravitation, extending outward indefinitely. has rightly pointed out that the law of universal Mme. METZGER gravitation, implying as it does that all bodies attract all other bodies and that every part of a body possesses the power of attraction, leads inevitably to a particulate theory of matter (374). This is the case for NEWTON'S followers who accepted the law of gravitation and the Newtonian macroscopic world and were then led to an acceptance of the Newtonian microscopic world. But for NEWTON himself the situation seems more nearly reversed. NEWTON believed in indivisible atoms, as most of his followers did not; he had studied the action of light and the attractive forces to be found in chemical reactions, and it seems to be from these studies that he was led to extend the force of attraction to larger bodies. In this way, it seemed to him that the existence of attractive forces throughout nature was firmly based upon experiment, occult though it might seem. As he suggested,
" There are therefore Agents in Nature able to make the Particles of Bodies stick together by very strong Attractions. And it is the Business of experimental Philosophy to find them out" (375).

NEWTON seems to have believed firmly that the cause of attraction could be discovered; for he was not, to state the matter paradoxically, a convinced Newtonian, satisfied with the concept of action at a distance. His statement to BENTLEY is almost too
(373) Opticks, Queiy 31, p. 395.

: Attraction universelle et religion naturelle chez quelques (374) HtLENEMETZGER commentateurs anglais de Nezoton, 1938, especially, p. 33-4. (375) Opticks; Query 3I, p. 394. Cf. p. 401: "These Principles [Gravity, Cohesion, etc.] I conisder, not as occult Qualities, supposed to result from the specifick Forms of Things, but as general Laws of Nature, by which the Things themselves are form'd; their Truth appearing to us by Phaenomena, though their Causes be not yet discover'd. For these are manifest Qualities, and their Causes only are occult."





well known; " You sometimes speak of gravity as essential and inherent to matter. Pray do not ascribe that notion to me; for the cause of gravity is what I do not pretend to know, and therefore would take more time to consider" (376). Yet in the same year NEWTON wrote the chemical De natura acidorum, in which he defined acids as substances endowed with (chemical) attraction, apparently inherent in the particles. To make the concept more palatable to his contemporaries, or else to satisfy his own misgivings, he had been careful to define attraction in the Principia so that a mechanical cause could be postulated for it; as he explained,
I here use the word attraction in general for anyr endeavour whatever, made by bodies to approach each other, whether that endeavour arise from the action of the bodies themselves, as tending to each other or agitating each other by spirits emitted; or whether it arises from the action of the ethei or of the air, or of any medium whatever, -whether corporeal, or incorporeal, in any manner impelling bodies placed there-in towards each other " (377).

In other words, attraction was merely the cause of the manifest motion of bodies toward one another. This description is so near the language in which BOYLEhad tried to substitute mechanical action for all forms of attraction that it seems reasonable to assume that NEWTON was affected by the same desired for mechanical
explanations as that possessed by BOYLE. low much NEWTON was merely conforming to the mechanical

climate of opinion of his time, and how much value he himself placed upon mrechanical explanations is hard to say. Certainly he continually offered mechanical explanations of the various types of attraction in many places, especially in the letter to BOYLE and in the Queries of the Opticks. HIe was completely opposed to the existence of the Cartesian ether and believed in the existence of a true vacuum (378); but nevertheless he postulated the existence
edition of NEWTON'S (376) HORSLEY'S Opera omnia, IV, 437 (letter dated 1692). (377) Principia, Book II, Section IX, Scholium, p. I92. (378) See Principia, Book III, prop. VI, Corollaries III and IV, p. 414, for the existence of a vacuum. For attacks upon the Cartesian ether, see especially Principia, Book II, sect. VI, p. 325; and Opticks, Query 28, p. 366-9. The rejection here was based upon experimental evidence: " For I do not find by any Experiments, that Bodies moving in Quick-silver, Water or Air, meet with any other sensible Resistance than what arises from the Density and Tenacity of those sensible Fluids, as they would do if the Pores of those Fluids and all other Spaces, were filled with a dense and subtile Fluid."

5 8



of an ethereal substance. The Newtonian ether differed from the Cartesian ether primarily in being very rare and tenuous, where the Cartesian ether was completely dense; the Newtonian ether was not a homogeneous substance but a sort of aethereal atmosphere, corresponding to the composition of the aeriform atmosphere described by BOYLE (379). In a true aethereal fluid there floated various effluvial particles; these were of different sorts and accounted for the effects of the different kinds of attraction, gravity, cohesion, chemical attraction, magnetism, electricity. NEWTON'S letter to BOYLE contains a very elaborate exposition of the possible action of the ether in accounting for the effects of light, magnetism, electricity, gravity, chemical attraction, all by the assumption that there existed an ethereal pressure gradient between the inside and outside of bodies. The Principia was so concerned with the overthrow of Cartesian physics, its ether and its vortices, and it was written on such a high plane of scientific certainty, that there was no room for such " indigested notions" (380) as the possible mechanism of attraction. In later years NEWTON seems either to have become more mechanically minded, or believed his experiments more conclusive, or was more anxious to placate public opinion, for in the second edition he included at the end of the newly written General Scholium a paragraph devoted to the properties of the ether.
" And now we might add something concerning a certain most subtle spirit which pervades and lies hid in all gross bodies; by the force and action of which spirit the particles of bodies attract one another at near distances, and cohere, if contiguous; and electric bodies operate to greater distances, as well repelling as attracting the neighbouring corpuscles; and light is emitted, reflected, refracted, inflected, and heats bodies; and all sensation is excited, and the members of animal bodies move at the command of the will, namely, by the vibrations of this spirit, mutually propagated along the solid filaments of the nerves, from the outward organs of sense to the brain, and from the brain into the muscles. But these are things that cannot be explained in a few words, nor are we furnished (379) Cf. Letter to OLDENBURG, 1675/6: "But it is not to be supposed that this medium is one uniform matter, but composed partly of the main phlegmatic body of aethel, partly of other various aetherial spirits, much after the manner air is compounded of the phlegmatic body of the air intermixed with various vapours and exhalations. For the electric and magnetic effluvia, and the gravitation : Memoirs of Newton, I, 392. principle, seem to argue such variety." BREWSTER Memoirs of Newton, I, 409-10: "The (380) See letter to BOYLE;BREWSTER: truth is, my notions about things of this kind are so indigestea, that I am not well satisfied myself in them."



with that sufficiency of experiments which is required to an accurate determination and demonstration of the laws by which this electric and elastic spirit operates " (381).

This " spirit" is as truly all-pervasive as the Cartesian subtle had once derisively compared to the Platonic matter which BOYLE
world soul (382); the greatest difference was that NEWTON believed

he could acquire experimental proof of its existence. In the used Queries added to the Opticks about the same time, NEWTON his ether to account for the action of light, electric and magnetic attraction, gravity, the transmission of heat in vacuo, and even cohesion. He did not explain the mechanism by which it worked, and even noted, " I do not know what this Aether is " (383). He was not convinced that ether offered the only possible explanation of attraction, for he carefully noted,
" What I call Attraction may be perform'd by impulse, or by some other mean unknown to me. I use that Word here to signify only in general any Force by which Bodies tend towards one another, whatsoever be the Cause " (384).

The opinion which NEWTON really favored on the question of the mechanical or non-mechanical cause of attraction is Much of the time NEWTON exceedingly hard to ascertain. emphasized the fact that attraction was a force whose cause was unknown; yet he frequently postulated a mechanical explanation in the form of an all-pervasive, but tenuous ether. One is left with the feeling that NEWTON would have preferred the mechanical towards but the non-mechanical one for want inclined explanation, of experimental evidence. As a result of this unresolved problem, the eighteenth century split roughly into two schools of self-styled Newtonian physics. One, comprising those whom we call Newtonians today, accepted the concept of action at a distance; rejected mechanical explanations, denying their necessity; converted the ether into magnetic and electric fluids where necessary; and generally followed the theories enunciated in the Principia rather than the more speculative hypotheses of the Opticks. But there were other physicists of the eighteenth century who followed
(381) Principia, p. 547. Cf. Opticks, Queries I8-24. (382) Excellency of the Mechanical Hypothesis (1674); Works, IV, 73. (383) Opticks, Query 21, p. 352. (384) Opticks, Query 31, p. 376. See also Principia, Book I, section XI, Scholium, p. 192.



the more mechanical aspects of NEUrTON'S theory and used his ether to form a highly complex system. Thus, among atomists, ,L SAGEderived much of his theory from NEWTON,as he was the first to admit, and postulated an elaborate ether composed of " ultramundane corpuscles "; on the other hand BoscoVICH, almost equally under the influence of NEWTON, reduced all matter to mathematical points surrounded by alternate layers of attraction and repulsion. In manv ways, JOHIN DALTONwas merely the last of the eighteenth century Newtonians.



DALTON marks the beginning of modern The work of JOHIN atomism. It was at one time possible to say with NERNSTthat DALTONs( theory " arose, by one effort of modern science, like a phoenix from the ashes of the old Greek philosophy." We now know that I)AL'rON had a distinguished line of predecessors, BOYLEand NEWTON; and that even before nlen such as GASSENDI, (GASSENI) there were numerous attempts to revive the atomic philosophies of the ancients. The writings of the seventeenth century atomists led to the unquestioned acceptance of the concept of small, invisible, impalpable particles; indivisible atoms or infinitely divisible parts or particles, or vague corpuscles. By the end of the century there were no real scientists who failed to accept one of the available particulate theories of matter. But the seventeenth century did more than merely promote the acceptance of the concept of material particles. The problem was far more complex than the mere revival and acceptance of the atomic theories of classical antiquity. The problem was, in effect, to put the atom to work; that is, to use the characteristics of the component particles to explain the physical properties of bodies. Aristotelian physics had explained such properties-heat, color, fluidity, ahd so on-by means of certain innate, inherent, substantial forms and real qualities. Thus a body was white because it contained a Form of Whiteness. The seventeenth century physicists looked for truer, more generalized and more fundamental explanations than this. The ancient atomists had explained properties on the basis of the characteristics of the



component atoms; a body was hot, not because it had a form of heat, but because it contained atoms of heat or fire; it was white because it contained particles of a certain shape. This was the first step on the road to the banishing of occult forces from physics (and chemistry) and the setting up of mechanical explanations to take their place. A true mechanical philosophy, however, required the introduction of another concept, the concept that the motion of the particles might affect the properties of the matter they composed. Ancient atomism had conceived of the atoms as in continuous motion, like motes in a sunbeam; but variation in this motion no more changed the nature of matter than variation in the motion of the motes would change the properties of the dust. Seventeenth century physics gradually placed the characteristic motion of the particles on as important a level as the characteristic shape of the particles; each contributed to the properties of the body which the particles composed. It is thus that the theory of heat as a mode of motion became so widespread as to be a commonplace.
all advocated BACON, GALILEO and DESCARTES the explanation of

physical properties in terms not only of the size and shape of the matter of which they were made but also in terms of the motion
of the particles of that matter. ROBERTBOYLE, following BACON'S

injunction to proceed to the discovery and investigation of forms, made an extensive and elaborate study of this branch of physics, rejecting all occult forces and explaining all the physical and many of the chemical properties of bodies in terms of particulate matter and motion of the particles. Far more than any of his contemporaries, BOYLE developed and explored the details and consequences of a purely mechanical theory of matter. NEWTON, using the experimental method developed by BOYLE, extended his concepts by placing the emphasis on motion under the influence of the force of attraction. To take a simple example, the early seventeenth century atomists explained the sharp taste of acids by assuming that the acid particles had sharp points that pricked the tongue; this was still the explanation accepted by LEMERY at the end of the century. According to NEWTON, however, acids had a sharp taste because, under the influence of the force of attraction, the acid particles rushed to the tongue with such violent haste as to bruise it, thus causing the pricking sensation. No



longer is the shape of the atoms their most salient feature; it is their motion now that is of supreme importance in determining the properties of matter. The static world that existed at the beginning of the seventeenth century was revolutionized by the introduction and development of dynamical principles by a series of physicists from GALILEO to NEWTON. Parallel with the development of dynamics in the macroscopic world was the introduction of motion into the microscopic world of the component particles of matter. The static, inert, continuous matter of Aristotelian physics became the dynamic, atomic matter of Newtonian physics. Here the atoms moved, not at random as they had done for the ancient atomists, but with purpose, under the influence of attraction or repulsion, each variation and change in motion producing a corresponding change in the properties of the body of which they formed a part. Whitehead has said that the seventeenth century answered the problem of the Ionian philosophers by saying that the world was " a succession of instantaneous configurations of matter "; rather the answer was that the world was made of matter and motion. The seventeenth century asked one question the Ionians had never asked, and solved it likewise by matter and motion; this was the question, how can we account for all the properties of matter in as simple and rational a way as possible? The development of a dynamic mechanical philosophy accounting for all the properties of bodies by the motion of very small particles of matter is a little noticed, quiet, but very genuine triumph of seventeenth century science.

Complete though the triumph of the seventeenth century mechanical philosophy was, speculation on the underlying nature of matter did not remain in abeyance from NEWTONuntil the time of DALTON, as is sometimes tacitly assumed. Certainly DALTON, by assigning characteristic weight to the individual atoms, made the greatest advance since the establishment of the mechanical was merely one in a series of interesting philosophy. But DALTON'S and important atomic theories developed in the course of the eighteenth century. Eighteenth century experimental scientists never repudiated the



particulate matter so painstakingly established by the seventeenth century. Though many physicists like KEILL and chemists like LAVOISIER were professedly anti-atomistic this in no way prevented their acceptance of the particulate matter of BOYLEor of NEWTON; it meant rather a scepticism towards attempts to describe the characteristics of the ultimate particles in non-experimental detail. The statement of NIEUWENTYT at the beginning of the century was true for the eighteenth century as a whole; as he wrote,
" That all visible Bodies do consist of an unconceivable Number of... little Parts, is already admitted by all Philosophers, and demonstrated too by so many Experiments and Proofs, that no Body who had taken the least trouble of examining the Nature of Creatures, can entertain any kind of doubt thereof" (385).

The subtle, elastic fluids so characteristic of eighteenth century physics and chemistry were by no means continuous. All fluids were regarded as particulate, and elastic fluids were but generalizand NEWTON ations of the subtle, particulate effluvia of BOYLE (386). Fire, caloric, electricity, even phlogiston were all material, particulate fluids. Even living matter became particulate with BUFFON'S "organic molecules" and LAMARCK'S " integrant molecules." Besides the implicit atomism of experimental science there were developed in the eighteenth century a number of atomic systems. The system of the Russian physical chemist LOMONOSOV was very much in the seventeenth century tradition and was in fact strongly
influenced by the ideas of BOYLE, NEWTON and CHRISTIANWOLFF.

Other systems were less concerned with mechanical explanations and more with the characteristics of the atoms themselves. Interesting, though hardly influential, was the system of GOWIN KNIGHT,

set forth in 1748 in a book with the revealing title, An Attempt to Demonstrate, that all the Phaenomena in Nature May Be Explained by Two Simple Active Principles, Attraction and Repulsion. KNIGHT postulated two kinds of matter, one with mutually attractive particles and one with mutually repellent particles; each particle of attracting matter was surrounded by an atmosphere of repellent particles much as DALTON'S atoms were surrounded by an atmosphere of caloric.
(385) The Religious Philosopher, translated by JOHNCHAMBERLYNE, 1719, p. 844. (386) No attempt can be made here to footnote adequately the following generalizations. They are based upon the i8th century works listed in the bibliography.



More interesting and influential was the well-known atomic theory of BoscovICH, first enunciated in 1758 in the Theoria philosophiae naturalis; this is a combination of the Newtonian theory of alternating spheres of attraction and repulsion with the Leibnizian theory of unextended monads. BosCovICH believed that matter was composed of non-extended points, endowed with inertia and with a force which was attractive or repulsive, depending on the distance. Spatial arrangement of the point forces was the important factor in determining the characteristics of the substance made up of the uniform point forces. BoscovIC't'S system became widely known in English scientific circles through
its acceptance by PRIESTLEY and by JOHN ROBISON who included

BoscovICH in his natural philosophy lectures at Edinburgh, where he was professor from 1775 to 1805. The atomic theory developed by LE SAGErepresents an extension of the Newtonian non-dense ether. LE SAGE postulated a fluide gravifique composed of very minute, very swiftly moving " ultramundane" particles which impinged on the world from outer space and acted upon matter to produce various properties. The atoms of terrestrial matter were composed of a sort of lattice work so that they resembled cages of various geometrical shapes.
LE SAGE'S theory was spread by JEAN DE Luc who adopted it

in his Idees sur la meteorologie of 1786 and by LE SAGE'S own correspondence with his contemporaries. The eighteenth century trend in atomic systems was toward increasing simplicity; the atoms have fewer and fewer properties and matter becomes more and more nearly empty space. The explanations employed were perhaps fantastic; BOSCOVICHcomplained that LE SAGE'S atoms were " rather unnatural "; and

felt, not without

reason, that it was impossible


determine experimentally the proposed characteristics of atoms and particles, so that all theorizing lacked an experimental basis (387). Both these criticisms were amply answered by the Daltonian atom whose only characteristic property, the simple one of weight, could be experimentally determined.
(387) See the correspondence between BoscovICH and LE SAGE, printed in PIERRE PREVOST:Vie et ecrits de Le Sage, 1805. For D'ALEMBERT'S views, cf. Jlimens de philosophie; (Euvres, Paris, I821, I.



XI. -




Paris, I933.

Les intuitions


A study of the philosophy of atomism. BAILEY,CYRIL. The Greek Atomists and Epicurus, Oxford, 1928. The standard work on the atomic theories of antiquity. BLOCII, ERNST. " Die Antike Atomistik in der neueren Geschichte der Chemie ";
Isis, I, 1913, 376-415.

The use of atomism by some seventeenth century chemists, particularly

SENNERT, JUNGIUS and BOYLE. " Views of the Founders of the Atomic Philosophy "; American BOLTON, H. C.

Chemist, III, I872, 326-30. On the ancient atomists only. DAUBENY, CHARLES. An Introduction to the Atomic Theory Comprising A Sketch of the Opinions entertained by the most distinguished Ancient and Modern Philosophers with respect to the constitution of Matter, Oxford, 183 I. DAUBENY was professor of chemistry at Oxford; mostly covers the period of DALTON and after but includes a discussion of BoscovICH. Grundriss einer Entwicklungsgeschichte der chemischen EHRENFELD, RICHARD. Atomistik zugleich Einfiihrung in das Studium der Geschichte der Chemie,
rather brief on the I7th and I8th centuries. Encyclopedia Britannica, second edition, 1778, articles " Atom " and " Corpuscular Philosophy." Encvclopedie, Lausanne, I781, articles " Atome, " Corpuscule, " "Epicureisme." 1906. Heidelberg, From ANAXAGORASto RUTHERFORD and SODDY;

For the I8th century view of the history of atomism. GREGORY, J. C. A Short History of Atomism from Democritus to Bohr, London, 19 3 1. The only modern full-length history; best on the modern period; somewhat superficial on the I7th century. HADZSITS, G. D. Lucretius and his Influence, New York, I935, For the transmission of the De rerum natura; useful for the i6th century, but mostly concerned with the literary influences.
HARRISON, CHARLES T. BACON, HOBBES, BOYLE, and the Ancient Atomists ";


Harvard Studies and Notes in Philology and Literature, XV, 1933, 191-2z8. A rather superficial study of the influence of the ancients. The Ancient Atomists and English Humanism of the Seventeenth Century,
Cambridge, Mass.,

Primarily concerned with the literary relations. HEIDEL, W. A. " Antecedents of Greek Corpuscular Theories "; Harvard Studies
in Classical Philology, XXII, I911, II1-172. A study of pre-Democritean theories of matter. atoomleer HOOYKAAS, R. " Het ontstaan van de chemische Philosophie,




9, 1947, 63-136.

Quite complete on the I6th and the early I7th centuiies,


but nothing



"The Experimental Origin of Chemical Atomic aad Molecular Theory before BOYLE "; Chymia, II, 1949, 65-80. Believes that many chemists were led to a corpuscular theory by means of chemical experiment. LANGE,F. A. History of Materialism, translated by E. C. THOMAS,3 volumes, London, 880. Old but still reliable; not very useful for physical atomism. KURD. Geschichte der Atomistik vom Mittelalter bis Newton, 2 volumes, LASSWITZ, Hamburg, 1890. Still the standard source; it was however written from the philosophical view, in the hope that the study of the atomic theories of the past would aid in the understanding of the underlying assumptions of the atomic systems of his own day, and would promote their acceptance. L. Histoire de la philosophie atomistique, Paris, 1895. MABILLEAU, Mostly on ancient and mediaeval atomism; written from the philosophical point of view. MAYO, THOMASFRANKLIN. Epicurus in England (I650-I725), Dallas, Texas, [I934]. Concerned chiefly with the literary interest. A. N. " The Development of the Atomic Theory "; a series of papers MELDRUM, in the Manchester Memoirs, I909-1911. Excellent on the background of DALTON'Stheory, the theory itself, and its reception. -, The Development of the Atomic Theory, London, 1920. Brief and polemical; mostly intended to settle the rival claims of DALTON and HIGGINS. J. R. "The Origins of the Atomic Theory "; Annals of Science, PARTINGTON, 4, 1939, 245-82. From DEMOCRITUS to DALTON;useful, but inadequate on BOYLEand on the I8th century. PILLON, FR. " L'6volution historique de l'atomisme "; L'Annee philosophique, II, 1891, 67-112. Useful, but mostly on atomism as a metaphysical system. Essai sur l'atomisme et l'occasionalisme dans la philosophie cartesienne, JOSEPH. PROST, Paris, 1907. Good on CORDEMOY. STONES,G. B. " The Atomic View of Matter in the xvth, xvith, and xviith Centuries "; Isis, o1, 1928, 445-65. Covers the period up to BOYLE;extremely good though brief. WELLING, JAMESC. "The Atomic Philosophy, Physical and Metaphysical"; Bulletin of the Philosophical Society of Washington, VII, 1884, xxix-lix. Though written by a philosopher, this is quite a good summary of physical atomism. II. SEVENTEENTH AND EIGHTEENTH SCIENTIFIC WRITERS CENTURY

Examen de quelques FRANCOIS. Entretiens sur l'acide et sur l'alkali. ANDREI, reflections de Mr Boyle sur ces principes. Reponse a une lettre de Mr Saumier, Docteur en Medicine, touchant la nature de ces deux sels, 2nd edition, Paris, i680.



BACON,FRANCIS. The Works of Francis Bacon, edited by Ellis, Spedding, and Heath, Boston, 1861-4. HENRY. An Attempt towards a Natural History of the Polype, London, 1743. BAKER, JEAN. Examen et refutation des elements de la philosophie de Neuton, BANIERES, de M. de Voltaire, Paris, 1736. BASSO,SEBASTIAN. Philosophia naturalis adversus Aristotelem, Geneva, 62 . A. A Manual of Chemistry, 2nd edition, Warrington, 1786. BEAUMm, LOUISDE. Dissertations philosophiques, dont la premiere roule sur la BEAUSOBRE, nature du feu; et la seconde sur les differentes parties de la philosophie, et des mathematiques, Paris, 1753. J. J. Physica subterranea... et specimen Beccherianum, fundmentorum BECCHER, documentorum, experamentorum, subjunxit Georg. Ernestus Stahl, Lipsiae, I738. ISAAC. Journal tenu par Isaac Beeckman de I604 a 1634, edited by HEECKMAN, DE WAARD,3 volumes, La Haye, 1939-45. CORNELIS B. Traite des affinites chymiques, ou attractions electives, translated T. BERGMAN, from the latest Latin edition, 1788. CLAUDE. Circulus Pisanus, Utini, I643. BERIGARD, DANIEL. Hydrodynamica, sive de viribus et motibus fluidorum comBERNOUILLI, mentarii, Argentorati, I738. -, and JEAN. " Nouveaux principes de mechanique et de physique, tendans a expliquer la nature et les proprietes de l'aiman "; Receuil des pieces qui ont remportes les prix de l'Academie Royale des Sciences, V, Paris, 1752, under "Pieces de I743," 115-144. BERNOUILLI, JAMES. De gravitate aetheris, 1683; in Jacobi Bernouilli, Basilensis, Opera, Geneva, 1744, I, 47-I63. JOHN. Discours sur les loix du mouvement, 1724, in, Johannis BerBERNOUILLI, nouilli, Opera Omnia, Lausanne, 1742, III, I-107. BODIN, JEAN. Universae Naturae Theatrum, Frankfurt, I597. HERMANN. A New Method of Chemistry; including the History, Theory BOERHAAVE, and Practice of the Art: out of the original Latin of Dr. Boerhaave's Elementa SHAW, 2nd edition, London, 1741. Chemiae, translated by PETER The first edition of this translation appeared in I727; there was also a French translation of I752; and a second edition in I753. G. A. De vi repercussioniset motionibusnaturalibus a gravitate pendentibus, BORELLI, Reggio, i686. The first edition appeared in I670. BOscOvIcH, ROGER JOSEPH. Theoria philosophiae naturalis, Venice, 1763. A Theory of Natural Philosophy, Latin-English edition, translated by -, J. M. CHILD, Chicago, 1922. GILL, H. V., S.J. Roger Boscovich, S.J. (I711-I787), Dublin, I941. A brief but convenient summary of the life and theory of BOSCOVICH. M. La philosophie naturelle et relativiste de R. J. Boscowich, NEDELKOVITCH, Paris, I927. Concerned with the metaphysical importance of BOSCOVICH's system in the light of modern philosophy of science. V. A review of the recent work on BOSCOVICH, in Rad Jugoslavenske VARICAK, Akad. Znanosti i umjetnosti, I923-5, 227-30. which Unfortunately in Croatian, except for the letters of PRIESTLEY, are quoted substantially in full by GILL.


MARIE BOAS In Six Volumes. BIRCH. London, To which is Prefixed the Life of the Author. Edited by THOMAS

BOYLE, ROBERT. The IVorks of the Honourable Robert Boyle.



The Philosophical Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, Esq. Abridged, Methodized, and Disposed under... General Heads, by PETERSHAW, M.D., London, 1725. Contains illuminating notes by SHAW. The Theological Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, Esquire: Epitomized,
by RICHARD BOULTON. Volume I, London, I715.

Contains an epitome of the philosophical works, p. 205-33. Works, I. BIRCH,THOMAS. Life of Boyle, 1744. Also in BOYLE'S Still the best life. as a Theoretical Scientist "; Isis, 4I, 1950, 261-64. BOAS,MARIE. " BOYLE CONDORCET. Eloge de Boyle, in (Euvres de Condorcet, Paris, 1847, II, 104-106. DAVID, T. L. "BOYLE'S Conception of Element Compared with that of LAVOISIER; Isis, I6, 1931, 82-91. A discussion of the meaning of the term as defined by various scientists to LAVOISIER. from BOYLE Robert Boyle Devout Naturalist. A Study in Science and FISHER, M. S. Religion in the 17th Century, Philadelphia, 1945. Throws little new light on the subject. " A Bibliography of the Honourable ROBERT BOYLE FULTON, J. F. "; Oxford Bibliographical Society' Proceedings and Papers, III, 1931-33, 1-172; "Addenda," 339-65. Extremely useful, though the summaries of the contents of the individual treatises are to be read with caution. and his Influence "; Isis, I8, 1932, 77-102. ROBERT BOYLE -, Superficial. MASSON,FLORA. Robert Boyle. A Biography, London, 1914. Entirely concerned with BOYLE'S personal life. MASSON,IRVINE. Three Centuries of Chemistry, London, 1925. Brief but good on BOYLE and his theory of matter. MCKIE, DOUGLAS. "Some Early Work on Combustion, Respiration and Calcination "; Ambix, II, 1938, 143-65. Excellent on BOYLE. BOYLE'S -, "The Honourable ROBERT Essays of Effluviums (1673) "; Science Progress, XXIX, 114, 1934, 253-65. Interesting and well written analysis. -, " Cherubin d'Orleans. A Critic of BOYLE "; Science Progress, XXIX, I21, 1936, 55-67. A clear discussion of the problems behind BOYLE'S calcination experiments. -, "BOYLE'S Law "; Endeavour, VII, 3, 1948, 148-51. A popular exposition of the history of the discovery of the gas law. -, (BOYLE's Library "; Nature, 163, 1949, 627. MEIER, J. Robert Boyles Naturphilosophie. Mit besonderer Berucksichtigung seiner Abhdngigkeit von Gassendi und seiner Polemik gegen die Scholastik. Fulda, 1907. Belongs to the philosophical school of the history of science; now outdated.



MORE, LOUIS TRENCHARD. The Life and Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, New York, 1944. Far from profound, but the best modern life. SALLY. Robert Boyle als Philosoph und seine Beziehungen zur MOSESSOHN, zeitgenossischen englischen Philosophie. Ein Beitrag 2zur Geschichte des Empirismus imn 7. Jahrhundert, Wurzburg, 1902. PARTINGTON, J. R. " The Early History of Phosphorus "; Science Progress,
XXX, 119, 1935, 402-12.

Thinks BOYLE knew of the German work. R. B. "BOYLE'SLaboratory "; Ambix, x, 1938, 17-20. PILCHER, Interesting account, with pictures, of the commercial laboratory run by BOYLE. SARTON,GEORGE. "BOYLE and BAYLE. The Sceptical Chemist and the Sceptical Historian "; Chymia, III, 1950, I55-89. An interesting discussion of the critical approach to learning by two distinguished contemporaries. SPRIGGS, G. W. "The Honourable ROBERTBOYLE: a Chapter in the Philosophy of Science "; Archeion, II, 1929, i-12. A good discussion of BOYLE as an anti-peripatetic. CHARLES BOYLE 0. " ROBERT THOMPSON, "; Amlerican Antiquarian Society, April, i882, 54-79. Though somewhat outdated this is still substantially a correct account of BOYLE as an atomist. THORPE,E. Essays in Historical Chemistry, London, 1902. The first essay is on BOYLE'S pneumatics and the Sceptical Chymist. DOROTHEA. The Life and Letters of the Great Earl of Cork, TOWNSHEND, London, I904. life at Eton. Chapter i8, " Eton Gentlemen," recounts BOYLE'S BOYLE WIENER,P. P. "The Experimental Philosophy of ROBERT "; The Philosophical Review, 4I, 1932, 594-609. A partial discussion of BOYLE'S influence in encouraging the experimental approach. et DEMAREST. BUFFON,G-L. L. DE. CEuvres completes, edited by LAMOUROUX 40 volumes, Paris, 1824. CASTEL. " Nouvelles reflexions sur la nature des corps durs "; Memoires de Trzvoux, July, 1723, 1258-1303. TIBERIUS. A Complete Treatise of Electricity, London, 1777. CAVALLO, -, A Treatise on the Nature and Property of Air, London, 1781. HENRY. " An Attempt to Explain some of the principalPhenomena CAVENDISH, of Electricity, by Means of an Elastic Fluid "; Phil. Trans., 1771, 584-677. -, "Observations on Mr HUTCHINSExperiments for determining the Degree of Cold at which Quicksilver freezes "; Phil. Trans., 1783, 303 ff. A. Thiorie de la figure de la terre, (I743) a facsimile edition of the CLAIRAUT, 2nd edition of I808, Paris, 1909. CLARE,J. M. The Motion of Fluids, natural and artificial; in particular that of the Air and Water, the third edition, London, I747. CLARK, SAMUEL. Rohault's System of Natural Philosophy, illustrated with Dr. Samuel Clark's Notes; taken mostly out of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophy,
London, 1723. ?CORDEMOY, GERAULD. Dissertations l'dme, Paris, 1690. physiques sur le discernement du corps et de




The first edition was in i666; there were also editions of 1689, 1699, 1704. A Treatise concerning Eternal and Immutable Morality, London, 1731. -, The True Intellectual System of the Universe: the first part, London, 1678. D'ALEMBERT, JEAN-LE-ROND.(Euvres de D'Alembert, Paris, I821. DALTON, JOHN. A New System of Chemical Philosophy, Part I, Ann Arbor, 1940; (in the Great Books of the St. Johns Program). RoscoE, H. and HARDEN, A. A New View of the Origin of Dalton's Atomic Theory, London, 1896. The authors discovered that DALTON'S atomism was derived from physical rather than chemical considerations. DE Luc, J. A. Idees sur la meteorologie, Paris, 1786. DESAGULIERS, J. T. Course of Mechanical and Experimental Philosophy, 3rd edition, London, 1753. The first edition appeared in I717. DESCARTES, RENE. (Euvres de Descartes, Adam-Tannery edition, 13 volumes, Paris, I897-1913. BooRscH, JEAN. Stat present des etudes sur Descartes, in Studes Fran ais, 39, I937. Extremely useful, and with a good critical bibliography. STERLING. "The R1le of DESCARTES in Seventeenth-Century LAMPRECHT, England "; Studies in the History of Ideas, III, 1935, I81-240. Tends to overestimate the importance of Cartesianism. LAIRD, J. "DESCARTES et la philosophie anglaise "; Revue philosophique, 1937, 226-56. A clear and balanced account. " Zur Genesis der Cartesischen Corpuscularphysik"; LASSWITZ, KURD. Vierteljahrsschriftfur wissenschaftliche Philosophie, X, i886, I66-89. An extremely clear and suggestive analysis. NICOLSON, MARJORIE. "The Early Stage of Cartesianism in England"; Studies in Philology, XXVI, 1929, 356-74. The introduction of DESCARTES' works into England; useful since it distinguishes between the acceptance of his physical and metaphysical theories. SIRVEN, J. Les annees d'apprentissage de Descartes (1596-1628), Paris, 1928. Disappointingly over-detailed. TANNERY,PAUL. "DESCARTES physicien "; Revue metaphysique, 1896; in Memoires scientifiques de Paul Tannery, ed. Heiberg and Zeuthen, VI, 305-319. Interesting; but nothing on his theory of matter. WOOTTON, F. "The Physical Work of DESCARTES"; Science Progress, XXI, I927, 457-78. Merely a summary. Description des atomes, Paris, I813. DIGBY, KENELM. Two Treatises: In the one of which, the Nature of Bodies; in the other, the Nature of Man's Soule, is Looked into, London, 1645. -, Of Bodies, and of Man's Soul. With two Discourses, Of the Powder of Sympathy, and of the Vegetation of Plants, London, 1669. DUFAY, C. F. " Memoires sur l'electricite "; a series in the Memoires de l'Academie des Sciences for 1733, 1734, I737.




La chymie naturelle ou l'explication chymique et mecanique de la nourriture de l'animal, Paris, 1683. EULER, L. Letters on Natural Philosophy, addressed to a German Princess, edited 2 volumes, New York, I833. by DAVIDBREWSTER, JAMES. Lectures on Select Subjects, 2nd edition, London, 1770. FERGUSON, G. Opera omnia, Venice, I555. FRACASTORO, FRACASTORO"; SINGER,CHARLES. "The Scientific Position of GIROLAMO Annals of Medical History, I, I917, 1-34. An illuminating study. FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. Experiments and Observations on Electricity, edited by I. BERNARD COHEN,Cambridge, Massachusetts, I941. -," A New and Curious Theory of Heat and Light "; Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, III, 1793, 5-8. NATHAN. The Ingenious Dr. Franklin, London, 193I. GOODMAN, scientific letters and papers. Contains reprints of many of FRANKLIN'S FREIND, JOHN. ChymicalLectures in which almost all the operations of chemistry are reduced to their true principles, and the laws of Nature, London, 1712. First published in Latin in 1704. GALILEO. Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences, translated by HENRYCREW DE SALVIO, and ALFONSO Evanston, 1946. -, II Saggiatore; in Li opere di Galileo Galilei, Edizione nazionale, Firenze, I890I909, VI. ERNST. " Galileis Atomistik und ihre Quellen "; Bibliotheca GOLDBECK,
Mathematica, III, 3, 1902, 84-112.

Extremely useful, clear and informative. KURD. " Galileis Theorie der Materie "; Vierteljahrsschrift fur LASSWITZ, wissenschaftliche Philosophie, XII, I888. Disappointingly confined to the philosophical aspects. L. "Der Einfluss Demokrits auf GALILEI LOWENHEIM, "; Archiv fir Geschichte der Philosophie, VII, 1894, 203 f. An unconvincing attempt to ascribe all GALILEO'S atomism to Democritean influence. PIERRE. Petri Gassendi opera omnia, Florence, 1727. GASSENDI, F. Abrege de la philosophie de Gassendi, 2nd edition, Lyon, I684. BERNIER, Extremely useful though not always completely reliable. LOUIS. Pierre Gassendi, Paris, 1927. ANDRIAUX, Purely biographical. J. Vie de Gassendi, Paris, I737. BOUGEREL, The earliest real biography; still the main source. BRETT,G. S. The Philosophy of Gassendi, London, 1908. Rather confused; no discussion of GASSENDI'S scientific ideas. ROCHOT, BERNARD. Les travaux de Gassendi sur 4picure et sur l'atomisme, I619-1I658, Paris, 1944. Erudite but uninstructive; chiefly concerned with tracing the plan and physical development of GASSENDI'S work; little analysis of his ideas. SORTAIS, G. La philosophie moderne depuis Bacon jusqu'd Leibnitz. Etude
historique, 2 volumes, Paris, 1920-22.

Volume I includes GASSENDI; very useful for his followers. THOMAS,F. La philosophie de Gassendi, Paris, I889. A summary; nothing on his sources or his influence.



WILLIAM. On the Loadstone and Magnetic Bodies. translated by P. FLEURY MOTTELAY, reprinted in the Classics of the St. John's Program, n.p., n.d. JOSEPH. The Vanity of Dogmatizing; reprinted from the edition GLANVILLE, of i66i by the Facsimile Text Society, New York, 1931. 's GRAVESANDE, W. J. Mathematical Elements of Natural Philosophy, Confirm'd by Experiments; or, an Introduction to Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophy, translated by J. T. DESAGULIERS, 4th edition, London, I731. The Latin edition was published in 1720-21; French translations in 1746 and in 1774 (by ALLAMAND). (by ELIE DE JONCOURT) HALE, MATHEW. Observations Touching the Principles of Natural Motions, London, I677. HALES,STEPHEN. Statical Essays, 2nd edition, London, I731. A. E. Stephen Hales, Cambridge, 1929. CLARK-KENNEDY, A useful biography. ALBRECHT VON. Elementa physiologia corporis hunzani, Venice, n.d. HALLER, HALLEY, EDMOND. Correspondence and Papers of Edmond Halley. Preceded by an Unpublished Memoir of his Life by One of His Contemporaries and the ' loge' by D'Ortous de Mairan, edited by E. F. MACPIKE, Oxford, I932. HARRIS, JOHN. Lexicon Technicum, London, vol. I, 3rd edition, 1716, vol. II, 2nd edition, 1723. and his Lexicon Technicum (I704) "; Endeavour, McKIE, DOUGLAS." HARRIS 4, 1945, 53-7. Clear and useful, with an account of his sources; he used BOYLE and LEMERY in chemistry. NICHOLAS. Conjectures physiques, Amsterdam, 1706. HARTSOEKER, -, Eclaircissemens sur les Conjectures Physiques, Amsterdam, I7I0. -, Principes de physiques, Paris, 1696. , Recueil de plusieurs pieces de physique ou l'on fait principalement voir l'invalidite des systemes de M. Newton, Utrecht, 1722. FRANCIS. Physico-Mechanical Experiments, London, I709. HAUKSBEE, HA/UY,R. J. Traite elementaire de physique, Paris, I803. J. B. VAN. Oriatrike or Physick Refined, London, I662. HELMONT, A translation by FRANCIS MERCURY VANHELMONT of the Ortus Medicinae of 1648. H. "La philosophie chimique et J. B. VANHELMONT METZGER, "; Annales Guebhard Severine, 12, I936, 140 f. Not concerned with his theories of matter. NEVE DE MiVERGNIES, PAUL. Jean-Baptiste van Helmont, philosophe par le feu, Paris, I935. The reputation of VAN HELMONT and his r6le as a Hermetic philosopher. VAN HELMONT J. R. "JOAN BAPTISTA PARTINGTON, "; Annals of Science, I, 1936, 359-84. Includes a very good summary of his theory of matter, though nothing on its possible sources. HILL, NICHOLAS. MCCOLLEY,GRANT. "NICHOLAS HILL and the Philosophia Epicurea"; Annals of Science, 4, 1939, 390-405. A very useful summary of the contents of an early treatise on atomism.




D. T. "WILLIAM HIGGINS,a pioneer of the REILLY,J. and MACSWEENY, Atomic Theory "; Sci. Proc. Roy. Dublin Soc., I9, 1929, 139-57. A violently partisan but unconvincing attempt to show that HIGGINS entirely anticipated DALTON. HOBBES, THOMAS. Works, the English edition, edited by W. MOLESWORTH, London, I839-45. WILLIAM. " Essais de chimie "; in the Memoires de l'Acadeutie des HOMBERG, Sciences for 1702; in the abridged Histoire et Memoires, 2nd edition, Amsterdam, 1737, 44-70. " CAP, P. A. " HOMBERG in ltudes biographiques pour servir a l'histoire des 2e I864. serie, Paris, sciences, Includes a bibliography. ROBERT.The Life and Work of Robert Hooke; in Early Science at Oxford HOOKE, ed. by R. T. GUNTHER, vols. 6, 7, 8, 10, 13, Oxford, 1930-38. -, Posthumous Works, London, 1705. CHRISTIAAN.Treatise on Light, translated by SILVANUS P. THOMPSON, HUYGENS, London, I912. -, CEuvres completes de Christiaan Huygens, publiees par la Societe Hollandaise des Sciences, La Haye, I888-1944. JUNGIUS, JOACHIM. Disputationes de principus corporumnaturalium, I642, translated in " JOACHIM und die Erneuerung atomischer JUNGIUS by EMIL WOHLWILL Lehren im 17. Jahrhundert "; Abhandlung aus dem Gebiete der naturwissenschaftlichen Verein in Hamburg, X, 1887. Includes a detailed analysis and a discussion of his influence. KEILL, JOHN. An Introduction to Natural Philosophy, 5th edition, London, 1758. KERANFLECH, M. DE. L'Hypothese des petits tourbillons, justifiee par ses usages, Rennes, 1741. KNIGHT,GOWIN. An Attempt to Demonstrate, that All the Phaenomena in Nature may be Explained by two Simple Active Principles, Attraction and Repulsion, London, 1754. First published in I748. WOLFGANG.Praelectiones academicae publicae in physicam theoreKRAFT,GEORG ticam, Tubingae, 1761. ANTOINE. Elements of Chemistry, translated by ROBERT LAVOISIER, KERR, I790; reprinted in the Great Books of the St. JOHN'SProgram, Ann Arbor, 1945. -, Traite eglmentaire de chimie, 2nd edition, Paris, 1793. -, and LAPLACE. Memoire sur la chaleur, 1780; reprinted in Les maitres de la pensee scientifique, Paris, 1920. H. La philosophie de la matiere chez Lavoisier, Paris, 1935. METZGER, An extremely good analysis. LEIBNIZ,.G. W. The Monadology and Other Philosophical Writings, translated by ROBERT LATTA,Oxford, I898. -, Die philosophischenSchriften von Gottfried WilhelmLeibniz, edited by GERHARDT, 1882, volume V. IRVING,J. A. "LEIBNIZ' Theory of Matter "; Philosophy of Science, 3, 1936, 208-14. A summary of the theory and its philosophical implications. J. B. DE. Recherches sur les causes des principaux faits physiques, Paris, LAMARCK, seconde annee de la Republique. Written in 1766.



Zoological Philosophy, translated by HUGH ELLIOT,London, I914.

TI,MERY, NICHOLAS. A Course of Chemistry, translated from the fifth French

-, -,

edition by WALTER HARRIS,2nd edition, London, 1686. Cours de chymie, 5th edition, Paris, I683. Cours de chymie ; nouvelle edition revue, corrigee & augmentee d'un grand nombre de notes, par M. Baron, Paris, I756. LE SAGE,GEORGES-LOUIS. "LUCRECE Newtonien "; Nouveaux memoires de l'Academie Royale des Sciences et Belles-Lettres, 1782, 404-32, Berlin, I784. -, "The Newtonian Lucretius "; translated by C. G. ABBOT, Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution, 1898, 14I-60. -, Physique mdcanique; in Deux traites de physiques mecaniques, publiees par PIERRE PREVOST, Geneva, 1818. PIERRE. Notice de la vie et des ecrits de George-Louis Le Sage de PREVOST, Geneve, Geneva, 1805. Extremely useful for biographical detail and some account of his theory; includes much correspondence. STOSZ,WILHELM. Le Sage als vorkaempfer der Atomstik, Halle, 1884. Though STOSZhad access to the MSS at Geneva, this is not very useful, since he was primarily interested in the application of LE SAGE'S theories to the metaphysical problems of contemporary atomism. LOCKE,JOHN. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, edited by FRASER, London, 1894. -, Elements of Natural Philosophy; Works, I th edition, London, I812, vol. III. The Influence of Contemporary Science on Locke's ANDERSON, FULTONH. Alethod and Results; reprinted from University of Toronto Studies in Philosophy, II, no. I, I923. and SYDENHAM, Suggestive for the discussion of the influence of BOYLE but not profound. LoMONOSOV, M. V. Physikalische-chemische Abhandlung M. W. Lomonossows Ostwalds Klassiker der exakten Wissenschaften, no. 178, Leipzig, I74I-I752; 1910.
BERNAL, J. D. "M. V. LOMONOSOV(1711-1765) "; Nature, 146, 1940, I6-17.



Eulogistic. B. N. The Works of M. V. Lomonosov in Physics and Chemistry, MENSHUTKIN, Moscow, I936 (in Russian). The best appraisal of LOMONOSOV'S work; includes Russian translations of most of his scientific treatises. "A Russian Physical Chemist of the i8th Century (MICHAEL VASILIEVIC "; Journal of Chemical Education, 4, 1927, I079-87. LOMONOSOV) Probably the best summary in English, by the leading LOMONOSOV authority. "LOMONOSOV "; Chemical News, 1912. A brief summary. " LOMONOSOV "; Revue generale des sciences, I912. SARTON, GEORGE. A brief but clear summary.

"An Early Physical Chemist-M. ALEXANDER. J. Am. Chem. Soc., XXXIV, 2, 1912, 109-19.


Laudatory. LOVETT,R. The )lectrical Philosopher. Containing a New System of Physics founded upon the Principle of an universal Plenum of elementary Fire, etc., Worcester, 1774.



COLIN. An Account of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophical Discoveries, MACLAURIN, 2nd edition, London, 1750. P. J.] Dictionnaire de chimie, 2 vols, Paris, 1766. [MACQUER, -, A Dictionary of Chemistry... Translated from the French, 2nd edition, London, 1777. P. J. Eldmens de chymie theorique, 3 volumes, Paris, I741. MACQUER, L. J. M. The Chemical Studies of P. J. Macquer, London, 1938. COLEBY, Useful for MACQUER'S views on the nature of fire, heat, phlogiston. MAGNEN,J. C. Democritus reviviscens sive de atomis, Leyden, I648. First published at Pavia in 1646; there was also an edition of I658 (La Haye). N. Recherche de la verite, edited by F. BOUILLIER, 2 vols, Paris, MALEBRANCHE, [ 88o]. au BRUNET,PIERRE. "Un grand debat sur la physique de MALEnRANCHE xvIIIe siecle "; Isis, 20, I933-4, 366-95. Useful for the followers of MALEBRANCHE'S physics. EDMI. (Euvres, Leyden, I717. MARIOTTE, -, Discours de la nature de I'air, 1676; reprinted in Maitres de la pensee scientifique, Paris, 1923. M. "A propos d'un tricentaire oublie : EDMEMARIOTTE SOLOVINE, (I6201920) "; Revue scientifique, 1921, 708-9. On MARIOTTE as an experimental scientist. A Plain and Familiar Introduction to the Newtonian Philosophy, MARTIN,BENJAMIN. London, 1751. MAYOW,JOHN. Medico-physical Works, being a Translation of Tractatus Quinque Medico-physici, Alembic Club reprint no. 17, Edinburgh, I907. T. S. "JOHN MAYOWin Contemporary Setting "; Isis, 15, 1931, PATTERSON, 47-96, 504-46. Excellent analysis of the views of MAYOW, HOOKEand LOWERin terms of the state of science of their own day. MARIN. Cogitata physico-mathematica, Paris, 1644. MERSENNE, -, Correspondance du P. Marin Mersenne, edited by CORNELIS DE WAARD,vol. I, Paris, 1932. ROBERT. Mersenne ou la naissance du mecanisme, Paris, I944. LENOBLE, The most detailed study. ROBERT.A New Treatise of Natural Philosophy Free'd from the Intricacies MIDGLEY, of the Schools, London, 1687. MORE,HENRY. The Immortality of the Soul; in A Collection of Several Philosophical Writings of Dr. Henry More, 2nd edition, London, I662. PIETER. The Elements of Natural Philosophy, translated by JOHN MUSSCHENBROEK, COLSON,London, 1744. NEUMANN,CASPAR. The Chemical Works of Caspar Neumann, M.D., Abridged and Methodized by WILLIAMLEWIS,2nd edition, 2 vols, London, 1753. NEWTON, ISAAC. Isaaci Newtoni Opera quae exstant omnia, edited by SAMUEL HORSLEY, London, 1782. Volume IV contains the letter to BOYLE, letters to BENTLEY,letters on the theory of light and colours. -, Optical Lectures read in the publick schools of the University of Cambridge, I669, London, 1728. This is the first part of the Latin text only. -, Opticks, 5th edition, London, 1931.



-, -,

Opuscula mathematica, philosophica et philologica, Lausanne, I744. Volume II contains the philosophical works, including the Lectiones opticae and De natura acidorum. Sir Isaac Newton's Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, edited bv
FLORIAN CAJORI, Berkeley, 1946.


A Catalogue of the Portsmouth Collection of Books and Papers written by or belonging to Sir Isaac Newton, the scientific portion of which has been presented by the Earl of Portsmouth to the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, i888. Contains an all too brief description of the contents of NEWTON'S important chemical notebook, as well as of the contents of most of the NEWTON papers. Catalogue of the Nezvton Papers sold by order of the Viscount Lymington, I936. Contains much of the chemical portion of the Portsmouth collection, copies of alchemical works, but not the important noteespecially NEWTON'S book in the i888 catalogue. ALLEN,F. "NEWTONon Heat as a Mode of Motion "; Science, 99, 1944, 299 f. A rather poor summary. DAVID. Mlemoirs of the Life, Writings and Discoveries of Sir Isaac BREWSTER, Newton, 2 vols, London, I855. Old but still useful, especially for the minor works and important letters which it includes. EDDLESTON, J. Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes, London, 1850. an Alchemist? "; Chymia, II, 1949, 27-36. R. J. " Was NEWTON FORBES, Sound though adds little that is new; believes that NEWTONused chemistry as a basis for his atomic theory. NEWTON'S HALL, A. R. " Sir ISAAC Note-Book, I66i-65 "; The Cambridge Historical Journal, IX, no. 2, 1948, 239-50. An excellent analysis, with extracts, of NEWTON'Searliest work on optics; includes some theory of matter. P. "NEWTON'S hypotheses of ether and of gravitation from JOURDAIN, 1672-1726 "; The Monist, XXV, I915, 79-107, 234-55, 418-41. Merely a series of quotes from NEWTON; the only commentary is taken direct from ROSENBERGER. "NEWTONand Chemistry "; Endeavour, I, 4, 1942, I41-44. McKIE, DOUGLAS. A useful, rather popular summary. -, "Some Notes on NEWTON'SChemical Philosophy Written upon the Occasion of the Tercentenary of his BIRTH"; Philosophical Magazine, series 7, 33, 1942, 847-70. Far and away the best account; extremely useful. A. N. " The Development of the Atomic Theory: NEWTON'S MELDRUM, Theory and its Influence in the I8th Century "; Manchester Memoirs, 55, I9Io, no. 4. A fairly good summary of NEWTON'Stheory and its influence on DALTON. Isaac Newton. A Biography, New York, I934. MoRE, Louis TRENCHARD. Confused and repetitious; very poor on NEWTON'S chemistry and on his theory of matter, NEWELL,LYMAN C. "NEWTON'S Work in Alchemy and Chemistry "; in Sir Isaac Newton 1727-1927, published by the History of Science Society,. Baltimore, 1928, 203-55.



Uncritical; useful for the long quotations from NEWTON'Svarious chemical notebooks, taken at second-hand. SNOW, A. J. Matter and Gravity in Newton's Physical Philosophy, London, 1926. Useful bibliography; a confusing attempt to trace the connections between the various 17th century philosophies of matter.

R. DE. Newton: Isaac Newton, the Atomic

the Man, Moscow,

London, 1945. in

n.d. (In Russian). The Royal Society Newton

Very useful for the list of NEWTON'S library.


Rather conventional.

Tercentenary Celebrations, Cambridge, 1947, 43-55. A rather naive attempt to credit NEWTONwith the discovery of the inner structure of the atom; useful for calling attention to the importance of the De natura acidorum.
NIEUWENTYT, BERNARD. The Religious Philosopher, translated London, 1719. NOLLET, JEAN ANTOINE. Lefons de physique experimentale, by J. Chamberlavne. 3rd edition, 6 vols.,


Paris, I749. Lettres sur l'electricite, 3 vols, nouvelle edition, Paris, 1764.

PEMBERTON, HENRY. A View of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophy, London, 1728. PERRAULT, CLAUDE. Essais de physique, Paris, i680. The Discourse made before the Royal Society concerning the PETTY, WILLIAM.

use of Duplicate Proportion; together with a new Hypothesis of Springing or Elastique Motions, London, 1674.
POWER, HENRY. Experimental Philosophy, in three books: Containing New

Experiments, Microscopical, Mercurial, Magnetical. WIith some Deductions, and Probable Hypotheses, raised from them in Avouchment and Illustration of the now Famous Atomical Hypothesis, London, 1664.



to Matter







The History and Present State of the Discoveries Relating to Vision, Light and

Colour, London, 1772. REGIUS, HENRICUS. Philosophia naturalis, Amsterdam, I654. ROBISON, JOHN. A System of Mlechanical Philosophy, edited by DAVID BREWSTER, 1822. 4 vols, Edinburgh, Vol. I contains a discussion of BoscovICH.


Article " BOscovICH " in the Supplement to the third edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Philadelphia, 1803.
PLAYFAIR, JOHN. "Biographical Account of JOHN ROBISON "; The Works I671.

of John Playfair, Edinburgh, 1822, IV, 121-78.

ROHAULT, JACQUES. Traite de physique, Paris,


Rohault's System of Natural Philosophy, illustrated with Dr. Samuel Clark's Notes, taken mostly out of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophy, London, I723. "Un precurseur fran9ais de la physique experimentale. GAUTIER,A.
ROHAULT (1620-1675) JACQUES 267-72. "; Revue generale des sciences, XXVI, 19I5,

A somewhat unreliable summary.


P. LA. " Lettre 1723, 2336-2835.

sur la nature

de la liquidite

"; Memoires

de Trtvoux,




ROWNING, JOHN. A Compendious System of Natural Philosophy, 7th edition, London, 1772. First published in I735. THOMAS. A System of Natural Philosophy, being a Course of Lectures RUTHERFORD, in Mechanics, Optics, Hydrostatics and Astronomy which are read in St. John's College Cambridge, 2 vols, Cambridge, 1748. SAURI, L'Abbe. Cours complete de mathematiques, Paris, 1774. Volume V is on corpuscular physics. Dictionnaire universel de mathematique et de physique, 2 vols, SAVERIEN,ALEXANDRE. Paris, 1753. [SENAC,JEANBAPTISTE].Nouveau cours de chymie suivant les principes de Newton et de Stahl, nouvelle edition, Paris, 1737. Actually probably not by SENAC. SCHOTT,GASPAR. Mechanica hydraulico-pneumatica, Frankfurt-am-Main, 1657. Contains the first account of GUERICKE'S airpump. DANIEL. De chymicorum cumAristotelicis et Galenicis consensu ac dissensu, SENNERT, Wittenberg, 1619. -, Hypomnemata physica, Lugduni, I637. First published at Frankfurt, 1636. KURD. " Die Erneuerung der Atomistik in Deutschland durch LASSWITZ, DANIELSENNERT und sein Zusammenhang mit ASKLEPIADES VONBITHYNIEN "; Vierteljahrsschrift fur wissenschaftliche Philosophie, III, I879, 408-34. atomism and its sources. Extremely good on SENNERT'S REMBERT.Die Atomistik des Daniel Sennert als einer deutschartigRAMSAUER, schauenden Naturforschung und Theorie der Materie im 17. Jahrhundert, Kiel, 1935. Nationalistic and not very useful. J. R. Instituts de chimie, translated from the 2nd Latin edition by SPIELMANN, M. CADETle jeune, 2 vols, Paris, I770. SPRAT,THOMAS. The History of the Royal Society of London, for the Improving of Natural Knowledge, second edition, London, I702. STAHL, G. E. Philosophical Principles of Universal Chemistry, translated (and abridged) from STAHL'S Collegium Jenense by PETER SHAW, London, I730. H. "La philosophie de la matiere chez STAHLet ses disciples"; METZGER, Isis, 8, I926, 427-64. Important and useful; this was later included in the author's Newton, Stahl, Boerhaave et la doctrine chimique. le comte de. Essai sur le fluide electrique, considere comme agent universel, TRESSAN, 2 vols, Paris, 1786. WILLIAMSON, HUGH. "An Essay on the Use of Comets,... together with some Conjectures concerning the Origin of Heat "; Trans. Am. Phil. Soc., I, 1789, 138 f. WALLIS,JOHN. A Discourse of Gravity and Gravitation, London, 1675. WATSON,RICHARD. Chemical Essays, 4 vols., Cambiidge, 1781. WOLFF, CHRISTIAN. Cosmologia generalis, Berlin, 1731; new edition, Frankfurt, I737. CHAMPS, JEANDES. Cours abrege de la philosophie Wolfienne en forme de lettres, 2 vols., Amstardam, 1743. WOTTON, WILLIAM. Reflections upon Ancient and Modern Learning, 2nd edition, London, I697.



M. A. " Some I7th Century Views Concerning the Nature of Heat BENTHAM, and Cold "; Annals of Science, 2, 1937, 43I-50. and BOYLE. Good analysis of the views of RAMBIALLE, PETIT,MARIOTTE BIRCH, THOMAS. History of the Royal Society from its First Rise; in which the most Considerable of those Papers, Communicated to the Society, hitherto not Published, are Inserted in their Proper Order, 4 vols., London, 1756-7. und den Cartesianern "; BLOCH,ERNST. " Die chemischen Theorien bei DESCARTES Isis, I, I914, 590-637. Interesting; but BLOCH'Sdefinition of a Cartesian chemist is far too sweeping. Pneumatica : A Study of its Transmission and Influence "; BOAS,MARIE. " HERO'S Isis, 40, 1949, 38-48. BROWN, HARCOURT. Scientific Organizations of Seventeenth Century France, Baltimore, 1934. Full of information on the relations between English and French scientists. PIERRE. Les physiciens Hollandais et la methode experimentale en France BRUNET, au XVIIIe siecle, Paris, 1926. A brief and clear discussion of the transmission of the Dutch experimental, Newtonian approach. , L'introduction des theories de Newton en France au XVIIIe siecle. Avant 1738. Paris, 1931. Primarily concerned with the destruction of the Cartesian cosmology; important but longwinded. BURTT,E. A. The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science, revised edition, London, 1949. A brilliant exposition, first published in I925, of some of the leading physical and metaphysical ideas of 17th century science; particularly useful for GALILEO. FLORIAN. "On the History of Caloric "; Isis, 4, I922, 483-92. CAJORI, Confused and confusing. BRYANT. On Understanding Science, New Haven, 1947. CONANT,JAMES Chapter II is on seventeenth century pneumatics. CREW,HENRY. The Rise of Modern Physics, London, 1928. kinetic theory of air. Contains a translation of DANIELBERNOUILLI'S et la pesanteur de l'air." i. "Le DUHEM, PIERRE. " Le P. MARIN MERSENNE P. MERSENNE et le poids specifique de l'air." 2. "Le P. MARIN MERSENNE et l'experience du Puy-de-Dome." Revue generale des sciences, I7, no. I7, I906, 769-82, and no. I8, 1906, 809-17. Valuable; but concerned with c1iscrediting PASCAL. -, Le mixte et la combinaison chimique, Paris, 1902. Contains a useful but oversimplified view of I7th century ideas. DYMENT,S. A. " Some Eighteenth Century Ideas concerning Aqueous Vapour and Evaporation "; Annals of Science, 2, 1937, 465-73. Interesting side-lights on theories of matter. ELLIS, O. C. DE C. A History of Fire and Flame, London, 1932. A mixture of anthropology, alchemy and poetic mysticism. Contains an excellent account, however, of modem researches on the nature of flame.



HEIDEL, WILLIAM ARTHUR. Hippocratic Mledicine. Its Spirit and Mlethod, New

York, 1941. Excellent; extremely useful for ancient theories of air. HIUMBERT, PIERRE. Cet effrayant genie... L'oeuvre scientifique de Blaise Pascal, Paris, 1947. Chapters 4 and 5 contain a summary of the work in pneumatics of PASCAL, PETIT, and PERIER. Sounder than the title implies. and HEATHCOTE,N. The Discovery of Specific and Latent Heats, McKIE, DOIUGLAS London, 1935. Useful for theories of the nature of heat. MIETZGER,H. Attraction universelle et religion naturelle chez quelques commentateurs anglais de Newton, Paris, 1938. Includes useful information on the atomic implications of Newtonianism. -, Les doctrines chimiques en France du debut du XVII" a la fin du XVIII' siecle. Tome I, Paris, 1923. An important, useful, brilliantly conceived work; a study of chemical ideas through LEMERY, with much information on the use of atomism by chemists. --, Newton, Stahl, Boerhaave, et la doctrine chimique, Paris, I930. Extremely useful, detailed study, including theories of matter. MTLLIxNTON,, E. C. "Studies in Cohesion from DEMOCRITUS to LAPLACE"; Lychnos, 1944-5, 55-78. -, "Theorics of Cohesion in the Seventeenth Century "; Annals of Science, 5, 1945, 253-69. -, "Studies in Capillarity and Cohesion in the Eighteenth Century "; Annals of Science, 5, 1947, 352-67. A series of useful and informative studies. IMOUY, PAUL. Le developpement de la physique carte'sienne (1646-1712), Paris, I934. A detailed and informative study, giving the theories and the interdependence of all the more important Cartesians. P,ARTINGTON,J. R. and McKIE, DOUGLAS. " Historical Studies on the Phlogiston Theory "; Annals of Science, 2, I937, 361-404; 3, I938, 1-58; 3, 1938, 337-7I; 4, I939, 113-49. Very thorough and detailed. PIERRE. (Euvres de Pascal, ed. L. BRUNSCHVIG et P. BOUTROUX, PASC_AL, Paris, 1904-14, volumes II and III. For the history of the development of pneumatics in France; includes the work of ROBERVAL, circle. PETIT,and the PASCAL RIGAUD, S. Correspondence of Scientific Men of the I7th Century, 2 vols, Oxford, I841. Very useful for the relations of Continental and English scientists. F. Pascal et son temps, 3 vols. Paris, I909-13. Sui};&WSKI, Volume 2 is on the problem of the development of pneumatics in France. F. SHERWOOD. " The Origin of the Thermometer "; Annals of Science, rAYLOR, 5, 1941-7, I29-56. ; ()DIIrUNTER, I. A History of the Theory of Elasticity and of the Strength of Materials, Camibridge, 886. Old hut useful; chapter I covers the I7th and I8th centuries. WHITE, J. H. The History of the Phlogiston Theory, London, I932. Useful side-lights on i8th century theories of matter.



DE. L'experience barometrique. Ses antecedents et ses explications, CORNELIS WAARD, Thouars, 1936. A careful and scholarly study of the background of the Torricellian experiment, and an analysis of the conflicting claims. E. T. A History of the Theories of Aether and Electricity, London, 1910. WrHITTAKER, Still the standard work; disappointing on I7th and i8th century theories of the ether. BASIL. The Seventeenth Century Background, London, 1934. tWILLEY, Extremely important; useful especially on the relation of HOBBESto the science of his times. -, The Eighteenth Century Background, London, 1940. Particularly useful for PRIESTLEY. Scholae Academicae: some Account of the Studies CHRISTOPHER. WORDSWORTH, at the English Universities in the Eighteenth Century, Cambridge, 1877. Contains useful appendices listing the scientific books recommended to the students.




On The Heavens, Loeb Libiary edition, Cambridge, Mass., 1945. ARISTOTLE. CELSUS. De medicina, translated by W. G. SPENCER,Loeb Library edition, 2 volumes, London, I935. LAERTIUS. Lives of the Philosophers, Bohn's Classical Library, London, DIOGENES I853. EPICIURUS.Letter to Herodotus; in Stoic and Epicurean Philosophers, Modern Library edition, New York, 1940. Loeb Library edition, GALEN. On the Natural Faculties, translated by A. J. BROCK, Cambridge, Mass., 1947. HERO. The Pneumatics of Hero of Alexandria, ed. by BENNET London, WOODCROFT, I851. -, Heronis Alexandrini spiritalium liber. A Federico Commandino Urbinate, ex Graeco, nuper in Latinum conversus. Urbino, 1575. There were also editions of 1583 (Paris) and of i680 (Amsterdam). -, Gli artificiosi, e curiose moti spiritali de Erone Alessandrino tradotti da Gio. Batista Aleotti d'Argenta. Bologna, I647. There were also editions of 1589 (Ferrara) and of 1693 (Paris). -, Spiritali di Herone Alessandrino, ridotte in lingua volgare da Alessandro Giorgi. Urbino, 1592. There was also an edition of 1595 (Venice). -, Della natura del voto, di Erone Alessandrino volgarizzamento inedito di Bernardo
Davanzati. Firenze, I862.

Originally appeared in 1582; this is the preface only. -, Heronis Alexandrini opera quae supersunt omnia, ed. WILHELMSCHMIDT, Leipzig, 1899-1914; in Greek and German. LUCRETIUS.On the Nature of Things, translated by CYRILBAILEY, Oxford, 1926.

University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass.