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Elements in the Melting Pot: Merging chemistry, assaying and natural history, c. 1730-1760
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History of Science and Ideas, History of Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2970-5085
2014 (English)In: Osiris, ISSN 0369-7827, E-ISSN 1933-7827, Vol. 29, no 1, 230-244 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This essay examines how the modern concept of the chemical element emerged during the eighteenth century. It traces this concept to a group of assayers, mineralogists, and chemists active at the Swedish Bureau of Mines (Bergskollegium). Driven by a deep ontological pragmatism, these “mining chemists” came to regard all inquiries into the component parts of metals as useless speculation. Instead, metals were treated as immutable species that made mineralogical taxonomy possible. Their work was a form of Enlightenment boundary work, which associated chrysopoeia and the pursuit of the components of metals with superstition and disreputable activities such as astrology.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Chicago, 2014. Vol. 29, no 1, 230-244 p.
National Category
History and Archaeology
Research subject
History of Sciences and Ideas
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-238653DOI: 10.1086/678105ISI: 000348658600014OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-238653DiVA: diva2:771725
Available from: 2014-12-15 Created: 2014-12-15 Last updated: 2015-03-03Bibliographically approved

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