The Limits Of Matter: Chemistry, Mining, And Enlightenment by Hjalmar Fors

The Limits Of Matter: Chemistry, Mining, And Enlightenment

byHjalmar Fors

Hardcover | January 6, 2015

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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 the ingredients for “chrysopoeia”—or gold making—but as elemental substances, or the 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 chemists at the Swedish Bureau of Mines 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 significant contribution to the modern European view of reality.

About The Author

Hjalmar Fors is a researcher and teacher in the Department of History of Science and Ideas at Uppsala University, Sweden.

Details & Specs

Title:The Limits Of Matter: Chemistry, Mining, And EnlightenmentFormat:HardcoverDimensions:248 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:January 6, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022619499X

ISBN - 13:9780226194998

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: The Edges of the Map

2 Of Witches, Trolls, and Inquisitive Men

3 Chymists in the Mining Business

4 From Curious to Ingenious Knowledge

5 Elements of Enlightenment

6 Capturing the Laughing Gnome

7 Conclusion: Material Reality and the Enlightenment

Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

In this path-breaking study, which examines an astonishing range of knowledge practices—from witchcraft, magic, alchemy, assaying, minerology, and mining—at the dawn of European modernity, Hjalmar Fors masterfully demonstrates the decisive role of the officials of the Swedish Bureau of Mines in defining the nature of reality, of matter and the imagination, of science, and who was authorised to practice it. His command of primary and secondary sources and languages is awe-inspiring. This is a learned, original, and important work that is bound to be a game-changer in 18th-century studies, both in terms of historiography and geography.