The Chemical Promise: Experiment and Mysticism in the Chemical Philosophy, 1550–1800

The Chemical Promise: Experiment and Mysticism in the Chemical Philosophy, 1550–1800

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Selected Essays of Allen G. Debus. 2006, 576pp., illus.

“ . . . should be close at hand at every major school and university, and those who have it on their own shelves will be reminded that serious scholarship matched by attractive publication makes for a stimulating encounter.” —AMBIX, 2008 (November)

“ . . . the essays contained in this volume construct a comprehensive history of the complex relationship between early modern alchemy, iatrochemistry, and medicine narrowly conceived, and provide an interesting perspective of the scientific revolution broadly conceived.” —16th Century Journal, 2008, XXXIX/3

“ . . . A surprisingly cohesive book, The Chemical Promise is a superb essay collection that unites around 30 of Debus’s detailed studies that were orphaned over the years in various journals and books . . . It is an informative work that complements Debus’s other books and that will undoubtedly remain a helpful resource for those interested in the history of early modern chemistry and medicine.” —Chemical Heritage

“ . . . Debus’s lectures are often introduced by biographical notes, and even his papers never lose the human element. As readers, we can follow a conversation between the pages, between the young scholar Debus and his scholarly mature self. We discover how Debus readdresses, and sometimes even answers, the shrewd questions he formulated about the historiography of alchemy and medicine in his early career. In a sense, Debus has remained part of his own audience, and this personal selection of work across his career contains, if not a Chemical Promise, definitely an invitation to scholars to pursue future research along the jagged lines that enclose alchemy, medicine and early modern society.” —BJHS

“ . . . For scholars interested in this field the volume offers easy access to a considerable number of Allen Debus’s essays and articles, many of which remain essential reading for anyone working in history of early modern medicine and iatrochemistry.” —NUNCIUS

“ . . . Debus provides the reader an excellent portrayal of key developments in medicine, chemistry and pharmacy during the time period 1550–1800. He makes a convincing argument that academic chemistry began within academic medicine. It could be argued that academic pharmacy, though not recognized as such, began in academic chemistry. Paracelsus is the giant in the essays. While his medical philosophy has not endured, excerpt partially in homeopathy, Paracelsus’s call for experimental observation of nature is seen as one of the great moments in the history of medicine, chemistry and science.” —Pharmacy in History

“…not an easy read, but it deserves a place in the science and medical history sections of major libraries. It may also prove a fitting capstone  to the career of a scholar whose contributions to the history of science and medicine are legion…Recommended. Graduate students through professionals.” CHOICE

“…Since tracking down these original sources would be a nontrivial task, it is a great convenience to have all of them collected together in a single and easily accessible book…” Bulletin History of Chemistry