Robert Boyle, 1627-91: Scrupulosity and Science

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Boydell & Brewer, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 293 pages
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Robert Boyle (1627-91), one of the seminal figures in the origins of modern science, yet a complex and tortured personality, has been the subject of much scholarly attention in recent years. Here, Michael Hunter, the acknowledged expert on Boyle, makes use of much hitherto unpublished material to offer a novel and distinctive view of the man. Hunter's re-evaluation of Boyle focuses on an elucidation of his religious life, and particularly his concern with matters of conscience, which Boyle pursued with an obsessiveness that contemporaries characterised as `scrupulosity'. This arguably lay at the root of the convoluted intellectual personality revealed in many aspects of Boyle's ideas and activities. In addition, by studying works that Boyle wrote but never published, Hunter illustrates the extent to which he was constrained by his fear of being at odds with groups like the medical profession and with public opinion more generally. In these essays, Boyle emerges as a troubled figure, plagued by religious doubt, ambivalent about magic, and convoluted in his relations with the wider world.Michael Hunter is Professor of History, Birkbeck College, University of London, and chief editor of the definitive edition of Boyle's Works (1999-2000) and Correspondence (forthcoming).
  

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Contents

How Boyle Became a Scientist
15
Functionalism
58
Robert Boyles Confessional Interviews
72
Alchemy Magic and Moralism in the Thought of Robert Boyle
93
the Evidence of the Boyle
119
Interpreting the
135
a Suppressed Critique of
157
Robert Boyle and the
202
Robert Boyle the Royal
223
Robert Boyle and the Dilemma of Biography in the Age of the
251
Bibliography
269
Index
285
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