Robert Boyle Essay

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Robert Boyle (1627-1691) Robert Boyle was born at Lismore Castle, Munster on 25 January 1627, the fourteenth child and seventh son of Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork. Robert Boyle was educated mainly by tutors and himself. He had no formal university education but read widely and made contact with many of the most important natural philosophers of his day, both at home and abroad. He had independent means which enabled him to have his own laboratory and to support religious charities. He was active in the ‘Invisible College’, an informal body devoted to the ‘new philosophy’ which in 1663 became the Royal Society, of which he was a Council member. He moved to Oxford in 1654, where he set up a laboratory with Robert Hooke as his assistant…show more content…
1, pp. 156–9). He expressed admiration for Bacon’s Novum Organum, Descartes’s Principles of Philosophy, and the work of ancient and recent atomists, although he says that in his early days he refrained from reading them carefully because he feared that he might be seduced by their reliance on pure reason rather than observation and experiment. He hoped to provide empirical evidence relevant to their views. Perhaps Boyle’s most interesting and influential contribution was his ‘corpuscular or mechanical hypothesis’, probably the fullest and most detailed development of physical atomism up to his time. His work on this begins in earnest in The Sceptical Chymist (1661) but it receives its clearest exposition in The Origin of Forms and Qualities (1666), and he returns to it in many of his later works. A useful summary of its basic principles is to be found in his About the Excellency and Grounds of the Mechanical Philosophy (1674). Boyle leads up to his hypothesis by considering in detail and attacking the forms of explanation and their basic concepts that he found natural philosophers using in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. They fall into two main classes which sometimes overlap: those favored by the ‘chymists’ or ‘spagyrists’, and those favored by the ‘Aristotelians’ or
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