Robert Boyle (1627-91): Scrupulosity and Science by Michael Hunter

By Michael Hunter

Robert Boyle (1627-91), one of many seminal figures within the origins of recent technology, but a posh and tortured character, has been the topic of a lot scholarly realization in recent times. right here, Michael Hunter, the stated professional on Boyle, uses a lot hitherto unpublished fabric to supply a singular and detailed view of the guy. Hunter's re-assessment of Boyle specializes in an elucidation of his spiritual lifestyles, and especially his main issue with issues of moral sense, which Boyle pursued with an obsessiveness that contemporaries characterized as `scrupulosity'. This arguably lay on the root of the convoluted highbrow character published in lots of elements of Boyle's rules and actions. furthermore, via learning works that Boyle wrote yet by no means released, Hunter illustrates the level to which he used to be limited via his worry of being at odds with teams just like the scientific career and with public opinion extra normally. In those essays, Boyle emerges as a stricken determine, suffering from spiritual doubt, ambivalent approximately magic, and convoluted in his family members with the broader international.

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Extra info for Robert Boyle (1627-91): Scrupulosity and Science

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Fob 57. It should be noted that Fisch was dependent on Usefulness for Boyle’s views, and was unaware of the existence of these earlier M SS. 148 See esp. the studies collected in Hutton, Henry More (1614-87). See also Hall, Henry More. 48 HOW BOYLE BECAME A SCIENTIST Perhaps more surprisingly, it is also possible to discern common features in thinkers such as Thomas Vaughan, despite More’s controversy with him, and even in more radical figures, such as John Webster or Henry Pinnell, with whom men like Charleton and More are generally contrasted.

In fact, illuminating parallels may be sought more widely still. Thus Harold Fisch has noted the similarity between the ethos of Book 1 of Boyle’s Usefulness of Experimental Natural Philosophy - which, as we have seen, overlaps with that of his earlier ‘Of the Study of the Booke of Nature’ - and ideas to be found in Sir Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici (1642). These include a stress on the links between scripture and nature, and a concern about the limits of reason; indeed Browne even parallels the allusion to the artificial revivification of mercury as making the resurrection more plausible which is to be found in Boyle’s ‘Essay of the Holy Scriptures’.

Middleton, Magalotti at the Court of Charles II, p. 135. Cf. Maddison, Life, p. 4. ^ Add. M S 4229, fob 60. A n adjacent note records a fall from a horse on May Day. See RBHF, pp. , and below, pp. 93ff. 59 ROBERT BOYLE: SCRUPULOSITY AND SCIENCE THE CONSCIENCE OF ROBERT BOYLE Though eighteenth-century commentators may have suppressed this, however, the most important facet of Boyle’s make-up from the point of view that I want to stress here was one that they took very seriously - even if interpreting it selec­ tively - and this was his deep religiosity.

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