JOSEPH PRIESTLEY: ENLIGHTENMENT SCIENCE AND DISSENT

  • 24 Aug 2011
  • 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
  • University of Sydney
JOSEPH PRIESTLEY: ENLIGHTENMENT SCIENCE AND DISSENT
(Sydney Ideas 2011 Key Thinkers Program)

Dr Victor Boantza, Unit for the History and Philosophy of Science, Faculty of Science


Joseph Priestley (1733–1804) was one of the most controversial figures of the eighteenth century. A true Enlightenment polymath, he wrote more than two hundred books, pamphlets, sermons, and essays on subjects ranging from science to politics and from metaphysics to theology. He was a religious dissenter, political radical, vocal supporter of the French Revolution, and lifelong defender of the losing side in the Chemical Revolution. Shortly after his house and laboratory were burned down in the Birmingham Riots (1791) he was forced to flee England. Although religion and his ministry were at the centre of his life’s work, Priestley is best known for his contributions to chemistry, physics, and botany through his studies of electricity, optics, photosynthesis, and gases (he “discovered” oxygen, among other things). This lecture will discuss aspects of his science, especially his work in pneumatic and experimental chemistry, to probe the relations between natural philosophy, religion, and non-conformism in the Enlightenment.

Contributed Paper Sessions

Contributed papers should normally be scheduled as 55 minute sessions, with approximately 30 minutes for presentation and 25 minutes for questions and discussion.

©Australasian Association of Philosophy
ACN 152 892 272
ABN 29
152 892 272
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