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Newton, Lavoisier and Modern Science

  • Arthur Donovan
Chapter
Part of the Archives Internationales D’Histoire des Idées / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 123)

Abstract

What is “modern” about “modern science”? This is a rather odd question, for in one sense the phrase “modern science” is redundant. Arguably the most distinctive features of modern culture, such as its pro-gressiveness, rationality, objectivity and self-awareness, are exemplified by science itself. And if our concept of modernity is derived from science, than science is modern by definition.

Keywords

Modern Science Scientific Revolution Natural Philosopher Natural Theology Positivist Account 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    For the concept of “guiding assumptions” and its relation to several leading theories of scientific change, see Larry Laudan, Arthur Donovan, et al., Scientific Change: Philosophical Models and Historical Research, in Synthese, 1986, vol.69, no.2.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Arnold Thackray, Atoms and Powers, (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard, 1970)Google Scholar
  3. 2a.
    Robert Schofield, “The Counter Reformation in Eighteenth-Century Science — Last Phase,” in Duane H.D. Roller, ed., Perspectives in the History of Science and Technology, (Norman: Oklahoma, 1971), pp. 39–54;Google Scholar
  4. 2b.
    I. Bernard Cohen, The Newtonian Revolution, (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard, 1980), pp. 9–10. I have examined this issue in greater detail in my “Newton and Lavoisier: From Natural Philosophy to Positive Science,” paper read at the University of Maryland/Smithsonian Institution Symposium on the Tercentenary of Newton’s Principia, forthcoming.Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    See Robert E. Schofield, Mechanism and Materialism, (Princeton, 1969)Google Scholar
  6. 3a.
    for a summary of critiques of Schofield’s interpretation, see Simon Schaffer, “Natural Philosophy,” in G.S. Rousseau & Roy Porter, eds., The Ferment of Knowledge, (Canbridge, 1980), pp. 55–91.Google Scholar
  7. 4.
    Cohen, Newtonian Revolution, p. 131.Google Scholar
  8. 5.
    See especially Margaret Jacob, The Newtonians and the English Revolution, 1689–1720, (Ithaca: Cornell, 1976), and her “Newtonianism and the Origins of the Enlightenment: A Reassessment,” Eighteenth-Century Studies, 1977–78, 11: 1–25.Google Scholar
  9. 6.
    For detailed studies of Lavoisier’s experimental method, see Marcellin Berthelot, La Révolution chimiqueLavoisier, (Paris, 1890);Google Scholar
  10. 6a.
    Henry Guerlac, Lavoisier — The Crucial Year, (Ithaca: Cornell, 1961);Google Scholar
  11. 6b.
    Frederic L. Holmes, Lavoisier and the Chemistry of Life, (Madison: Wisconsin, 1985).Google Scholar
  12. 6.
    For detailed studies of Lavoisier’s experimental method, see Marcellin Berthelot, La Révolution chimiqueLavoisier, (Paris, 1890);Google Scholar
  13. 6a.
    Henry Guerlac, Lavoisier — The Crucial Year, (Ithaca: Cornell, 1961);Google Scholar
  14. 6b.
    Frederic L. Holmes, Lavoisier and the Chemistry of Life, (Madison: Wisconsin, 1985).Google Scholar
  15. 7.
    I have explored this connection in greater detail in my “Lavoisier and the Origins of Modern Chemistry,” in Arthur Donovan, ed., The Chemical Revolution: Essays in Reinterpretation, vol. 4 of Osiris, second series, (Philadelphia: History of Science Society, in press).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arthur Donovan
    • 1
  1. 1.Virginia TechUSA

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