Loonan, Conleth Patrick
Robert Boyle on the Elements.
Masters thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
Robert Boyle (1627-91) hypothesised that all matter subsisted of corpuscles, differentiated only by size, figure and shape, and believed that water played a central rôle in the created world: it may even have been the prime matter. He considered the question of the elements and, defining them as ‘simple’, ‘primitive bodies’ into which compound bodies were ultimately resolved, offered evidence for the elements from a variety of sources, largely centred on demonstrating that water is transmuted into earth which, in turn, is transmuted into metals.
Boyle considered various physical entities which might be considered as elemental, ranging from suggesting that no elements exist, to the acceptance of some of the sets of proposed elements then current.
The following questions are considered: the elements as primary qualities of matter; primary qualities of the elements; weight as a primary quality of the elements; weight as a Boylean primary quality; the epistemic and ontological reality of the elements; and the elements in relation to their individuation and identity.
A comprehensive literature review is presented.
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