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    Atomism, mechanism, and chymistry in the natural philosophy of Walter Warner

    Clucas, Stephen (2022) Atomism, mechanism, and chymistry in the natural philosophy of Walter Warner. In: Lüthy, C. and Nicoli, E. (eds.) Atoms, Corpuscles and Minima in the Renaissance. Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy and Science 36. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill. ISBN 9789004528918.

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    In the first two decades of the seventeenth century, atomism was not a widely held doctrine amongst English natural philosophers. Amongst natural philosophers with interests in alchemy or chymistry, proponents of atomism were even rarer. One such proponent – together with his colleague and friend Thomas Harriot (1560–1621) – was Walter Warner (ca. 1557–1643), one of several mathematically – and philosophically – inclined clients of Henry Percy, ninth earl of Northumberland (1564–1632). Although Warner never published any of his atomistic writings, his manuscripts show a natural philosopher who was seeking mechanical and atomistic explanations for chymical – and even physiological – processes well before the later and more widely-known corpuscularian hypotheses of Robert Boyle (1627–1691). This chapter analyses Warner's atomistic explanations of physical phenomena such as fire and the physiological processes involved in cognition and his use of chymical analogies. Book synopsis: The Renaissance witnessed an upsurge in explanations of natural events in terms of invisibly small particles – atoms, corpuscles, minima, monads and particles. The reasons for this development are as varied as are the entities that were proposed. This volume covers the period from the earliest commentaries on Lucretius’ De rerum natura to the sources of Newton’s alchemical texts. Contributors examine key developments in Renaissance physiology, meteorology, metaphysics, theology, chymistry and historiography, all of which came to assign a greater explanatory weight to minute entities. These contributions show that there was no simple ‘revival of atomism’, but that the Renaissance confronts us with a diverse and conceptually messy process. Contributors are: Stephen Clucas, Christoph Lüthy, Craig Martin, Elisabeth Moreau, William R. Newman, Elena Nicoli, Sandra Plastina, Kuni Sakamoto, Jole Shackelford, and Leen Spruit.


    Item Type: Book Section
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Research Centres and Institutes: Medieval and Early Modern Worlds
    Depositing User: Stephen Clucas
    Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2022 13:31
    Last Modified: 18 Jan 2024 14:25


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