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The Limits of Matter: Chemistry, Mining and Enlightenment
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#sthash.cyjiIYe3.dpuf
2015 (English)Book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Europeans raised a number of questions about the nature of reality and found their answers to be different from those that had satisfied their forebears. They discounted tales of witches, trolls, magic, and miraculous transformations and instead began looking elsewhere to explain the world around them. In The Limits of Matter, Hjalmar Fors investigates how conceptions of matter changed during the Enlightenment and pins this important change in European culture to the formation of the modern discipline of chemistry. Fors reveals how, early in the eighteenth century, chemists began to view metals no longer as ingredients for chrysopoeia –or gold making– but as elemental substances, or basic building blocks of matter. At the center of this emerging idea, argues Fors, was the Bureau of Mines of the Swedish state, which saw the practical and profitable potential of these materials in the economies of mining and smelting. By studying the bureau's chemists and their networks, and integrating their practices into the wider European context, Fors illustrates how they and their successors played a significant role in the development of our modern notion of matter and made a major contribution to the modern European view of reality. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Chicago: University of Chicago Press , 2015, 1. , 241 p.
, Synthesis
Keyword [en]
matter. philosophy, chemistry, history, mining engineering, history, enlightenment
National Category
History and Archaeology
Research subject
History of Sciences and Ideas
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-268868ISBN: 978-0-226-19499-8ISBN: 0-226-19499-xISBN: 978-0.226-19504-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-268868DiVA: diva2:881407
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2015-12-10 Created: 2015-12-10 Last updated: 2015-12-10

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