Science and the Enlightenment - Study Guide Chapter 4, Chemistry Summary & Analysis

Thomas L. Hankins
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As mentioned in the last chapter, before 1750, Chemistry didn't really exist as an avenue of scientific inquiry. Alchemy was the province of magicians and mystics, not a rational, scientific discipline. While alchemy was effectively disproved by the chemical revolution of the 18th century, at the beginning of the century Chemistry was still the province of doctors and alchemists. Although there were significant theoretical changes in chemistry towards the end of the enlightenment, at the beginning it was practical developments in industry and medicine that led to developments in the science. Newton and others hoped that by explaining chemical processes in terms of the mechanics of atoms, they could reduce chemistry to physics. Chemistry was never reduced to mechanical physics, though both sciences share some similarities. The developments in Chemistry were more practical than theoretical, with old distinctions and categories being clarified and rationalized...

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This section contains 951 words
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