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Mutual Favours: The social and scientific practice of eighteenth-century Swedish chemistry
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Arts, Department of History of Science and Ideas.
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The dissertation is a study of the creation of chemistry as a science in eighteenth-century Sweden. It is argued that the chemists in the study participated in a network for exchange of scientific facts and all kinds of favours, in which science was both conducted, negotiated and created. A number of relationships between chemists are analyzed with regards to two central eighteenth-century institutions: the patron-client relationship and the egalitarian ideal of reciprocity articulated in the eighteenth-century Republic of Letters.

In the first half the background to the success of Swedish chemistry is sketched out. It is discussed which groups supported chemistry and for what reasons. There is a discussion of the theoretical and methodological changes that were initiated by Torbern Bergman when he took over the chair of chemistry in Uppsala. Bergman's attempts to marginalize his two major opponents, Johan Gottschalk Wallerius, the previous holder of the Uppsala chair and Gustav von Engeström, the head of the Board of Mines laboratory in Stockholm, are also analyzed.

In the second half the focus shifts to the interaction of university chemistry with industry. It is shown how industrial processes gradually came to be redefined as a kind of “coarse chemistry”, a process which benefited both engineers employed at industrial installations and university chemists. The many themes explored in the study are brought together in an analysis of Carl Wilhelm Scheele’s adoption into the network of Swedish chemists. The dissertation concludes with a survey of the more general conclusions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Institutionen för idé- och lärdomshistoria , 2003. , 225 p.
Skrifter, ISSN 0280-7238 ; 30
Keyword [en]
History of science
Keyword [sv]
Vetenskapshistoria, Sweden, chemistry, mineralogy, eighteenth century, enlightenment science, republic of letters, reciprocity, networks, Johan Gottschalk Wallerius, Torbern Bergman, Carl Wilhelm Scheele
National Category
Research subject
History Of Sciences and Ideas
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-3403ISBN: 91-506-1669-2OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-3403DiVA: diva2:162679
Public defence
2003-05-03, Auditorium Minus, Museum Gustavianum, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2003-04-09 Created: 2003-04-09Bibliographically approved

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