Robert Boyle (1627-91): Scrupulosity and Science

October 2000
1 black and white illustrations
303 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9780851157986
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
BISAC BIO015000, HIS015000

Robert Boyle (1627-91): Scrupulosity and Science

Michael Hunter

out of stock

A re-evaluation of Boyle in the light of new evidence of his tortured religious life and his difficult relations with his contemporaries.
Robert Boyle (1627-91), one of the seminal figures in the origins of modern science, yet a complex and tortured personality, has been the subject of much scholarly attention in recent years. Here, Michael Hunter, the acknowledged expert on Boyle, makes use of much hitherto unpublished material to offer a novel and distinctive view of the man. Hunter's re-evaluation of Boyle focuses on an elucidation of his religious life, and particularly his concern with matters of conscience, which Boyle pursued with an obsessiveness that contemporaries characterised as `scrupulosity'. This arguably lay at the root of the convoluted intellectual personality revealed in many aspects of Boyle's ideas and activities. In addition, by studying works that Boyle wrote but never published, Hunter illustrates the extent to which he was constrained by his fear of being at odds with groups like the medical profession and with public opinion more generally. In these essays, Boyle emerges as a troubled figure, plagued by religious doubt, ambivalent about magic, and convoluted in his relations with the wider world.Michael Hunter is Professor of History, Birkbeck College, University of London, and chief editor of the definitive edition of Boyle's Works (1999-2000) and Correspondence (forthcoming).


Different facets of Boyle are revealed in successive papers and continually reflect upon other facets revealed in other papers. The result... a brilliant and fascinating gem. MEDICAL HISTORY Will attract wide interest among specialists in Restoration intellectual history. HISTORY Based on his intimate familiarity with the massive Boyle archive, Hunter draws...a portrait of a rather dysfunctional individual, afflicted with religious and moral doubts, very unlike the poised and purposeful scientist portrayed by historians... These essays introduce us to a far more complex - and engrossing - individual and force us to reconsider the nature of science during the early modern period. AMERICAN SCIENTIST Generally excellent collection. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

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