(Studies in the Scientific Revolution)

Assignment 9: Due Thursday, 11/1/07

Exam Review: [I didn’t lecture on all of this material.] Ass9ReviewBoyleShapinShaffer84.pdf [740K]

Read up to p. 53 in Debus’ Man and Nature in the Renaissance.


Read Shapin_PumpAndCircumstance.pdf [3.9 MB].


Read some Boyle: pp. 109-123 in this PDF: Boyle_Matthews_SciBackground.pdf [2.8 MB].


Read about Boyle and Hooke in this PDF: Jardin_Ingenious-HookeBoyle.pdf [2.2 MB].


Write an essay on the above.  Demonstrate that you have read all of the above readings.  Here are some ideas:

“salt, sulfur, mercury”

Expensive machines

Observation vs. vexing nature

Literature as stand-in for eye-witness

Pictures as stand-in for eye-witness

          [Philosophically, how does this compare to photographs or video… especially with Photoshop…]

How does reporting failed experiments make the successful ones more credible?

          Is it unbiased and innocent or just more rhetorical trickery?

What weighs more a pound of lead, of feathers, or of air?

What does Boyle mean by the word “vacuum”?

Hobbes made a flatulence joke?

Purpose of popularization.


Souped up suggestions:

Look into Baconian Idols (from Novum Organum) and compare to Boyle’s experimental philosophy. 

Look at Hobbes’ Leviathan, ch 17 (or other parts of Leviathan if you like).

Look at other articles linked below.

Extra Credit idea posted on 10/29.

The comet Holmes has all of the sudden burst into view perhaps due to an expulsion of gas or dust or ???. 

Go out and look at it.  It may be too light polluted in Hoboken to see it, but if you get out of the urban area it ought to be visible.  It is near Cassiopeia.  Use the internet to find a map.  There must be 100s of them posted by now. 

I’ll award extra credit to anyone who makes a parallax argument as to why this comet must be above the moon and figures out how far away it is. I suggest using at least 2 different photos of the comet (I have run into dozens of amateur photos on the web) from disparate locations on the earth (try to find photos taken at nearly the same time) and assume that the stars are infinitely far away.  In theory you ought to be able to determine how far away the comet is from the earth.  Then again, it may be too far away… but give it a good shot and I’ll consider some points.  Definitely draw good diagrams and explain how you did it or tried to do it.  Just an answer is not acceptable.  Be Galileo.


Boyle, Robert. "Chapter 6: Boyle." In The Scientific Background to Modern Philosophy : Selected Readings, ed. Michael R. Matthews, pp. 109-123. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 1989.


Debus, Allen G. Man and Nature in the Renaissance. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1978.


Jardine, Lisa. Ingenious Pursuits: Building the Scientific Revolution: Anchor Books, 2000.


Shapin, Steven. "Pump and Circumstance: Robert Boyle's Literary Technology." Social Studies of Science 14, no. 4 (1984): 481-520.

Additional sources of interest:  Could be used for a souped-up assignment.


Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. (1st ed. 1651) Books@Adelaide


Kargon, Robert. "Walter Charleton, Robert Boyle, and the Acceptance of Epicurean Atomism." Isis 55, no. 2 (1964): pp. 184-192. Kargon_CharletonBoyle-atomism.pdf [281 KB]


Renaldo, John J. "Bacon's Empiricism, Boyle's Science, and the Jesuit Response in Italy." Journal of the History of Ideas 37, no. 4 (1976): 689-695. Renaldo_BaconBoyleJesuitItaly.pdf [244 KB]


Shapin, Steven, and Simon Schaffer. Leviathan and the Air-Pump; Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985. check library


Rogers, G. A. J. "Boyle, Locke, and Reason." Journal of the History of Ideas 27, no. 2 (1966): pp. 205-216. Rogers_BoyleLockeReason.pdf [440 MB]


Meinel, Christoph. "Early Seventeenth-Century Atomism: Theory, Epistemology, and the Insufficiency of Experiment." Isis 79, no. 1 (1988): pp. 68-103. Meinel_17thcatomismepistemology.pdf [1.5 MB]


Curley, E. M. "Locke, Boyle, and the Distinction between Primary and Secondary Qualities." The Philosophical Review 81, no. 4 (1972): pp. 438-464. Curley_LockeBoylePrimarySecondary.pdf [668 KB]


Dewhurst, Kenneth. "Locke's Contribution to Boyle's Researches on the Air and on Human Blood." Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 17, no. 2 (1962): pp. 198-206.  Dewhurst_LockeContributionBoyleBloodResearch.pdf [883 KB]


Loemker, Leroy E. "Boyle and Leibniz." Journal of the History of Ideas 16, no. 1 (1955): 22-43. Loemker_BoyleandLeibniz.pdf [2.6 MB]


Moore, Leslie. ""Instructive Trees": Swift's Broom-Stick, Boyle's Reflections, and Satiric Figuration." Eighteenth-Century Studies 19, no. 3 (1986): 313-332. Moore_SwiftsBroomStickBoyle.pdf [374 KB]


Back to SciRev Syllabus.

Of interest…

This is an article on a fellow whose work was being used for creationist support.


                                                                  Modern replica of Boyle’s Pump