Boyle, Spinoza and Glauber: On the Philosophical Redintegration of Saltpeter A Reply to Antonio Clericuzio


Traditionally, the so-called ‘redintegration experiment’ is at the center of the comments on the supposed Boyle/Spinoza correspondence. A. Clericuzio argued (refuting the interpretation by R.A. & M.B. Hall) in his influential publications that, in De nitro, Boyle accounted for the ‘redintegration’ of saltpeter on the grounds of the chemical properties of corpuscles and did not make any attempt to deduce them from the mechanical principles. By contrast, this paper claims that with his De nitro Boyle wanted to illustrate and promote precisely his new Corpuscular or Mechanical Philosophy, and that he did significant attempts to explain the phenomena in terms of mechanical qualities. Boyle had borrowed the ‘redintegration experiment’ from R. Glauber and used it as a tool to prove that his philosophy was the right alternative for the Peripatetic and Paracelsian theory of qualities of bodies. Consequently, Clericuzio’s characterization of the Boyle/Spinoza controversy as a discussion between a strict mechanical philosopher and a chemist is problematic and should be revised.

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