By Rose-Mary Sargent
Sargent examines the philosophical, felony, experimental, and non secular traditions—among them English universal legislations, alchemy, drugs, and Christianity—that performed an element in shaping Boyle's experimental suggestion and perform. The roots of his philosophy in his formative years and schooling, in his non secular beliefs, and within the paintings of his predecessors—particularly Bacon, Descartes, and Galileo—are absolutely explored, as are the prospective affects of his social and highbrow circle. Drawing at the complete diversity of Boyle's released works, in addition to on his unpublished notebooks and manuscripts, Sargent exhibits how those assorted affects have been remodeled and integrated into Boyle's perspectives on and perform of experiment.
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Additional resources for The Diffident Naturalist: Robert Boyle and the Philosophy of Experiment
Boyle noted that corroboration of the occurrence of a particular phenomenon from independent witnesses was one test of reliability, but it would also be necessary to reconcile reported observations with other facts and theories about nature. Because of this involvement of theoretical knowledge in the process of observing, Boyle considered the factual category to be dynamic. New information or the refinement of theory could lead to a revision of those items previously admitted into the factual foundation.
For example, in a letter to Mersenne in 1632, he wrote: "It would be very useful if some such person were to write the history of celestial phenomena in accordance with the Baconian method and to describe the present appearances of the heavens without any explanations or hypotheses. . "54 Tbe Philosophical TraditioM Both of Boyle's predecessors also approved of the use of hypotheses. '~ Science was t o rest upon an experimental foundation, but hypotheses were necessary for experimental design.
28 Because the Scholastic logic focused on names, and the diversity of names "doth not always infer a diversity of physical entities," Scholasticism remained in the realm of metaphysical speculation and failed t o increase our knowledge of the physical Boyle was more interested in learning about what things were "in themselves, not what, logician o r metaphysician will call them in the terms of his art; it being much fitter in my judgment to alter words, that they may better fit the nature of things, than to affix a wrong nature to things that they may be accommodated to forms o r words that were probably devised, when the things themselves were not known o r well understood, if at all thought In order to reform language so that it would better reflect the nature of things, an alternative to the Scholastic way of philosophizing was required.