約瑟夫·普里斯特利(Joseph Priestley)被"隔離"了嗎


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經常有人說約瑟夫·普里斯特利(Joseph Priestley)發現了氧氣,或者不是因為稱其為脫氧空氣-取決於個人的喜好。但是,無論如何,在諸如Wikipedia之類的流行帳戶中經常說到,由於他繼續使用Phlogiston的理論,他與學術界其他成員和化學革命變得孤立。

我已經閱讀了Priestley的一些作品,以及有關卡文迪許(Cavendish)的相關著作-他們在1700年代後期以前一直使用Phlogiston理論。據報導,在Wikipedia中,卡文迪許是1787年在法國以外最早使用氧氣理論的人之一。燒毀普里斯特利房屋的暴動發生在1791年,由於普里斯特利的政治分歧,普里斯特利於1794年移居美國。他迅速與富蘭克林成為朋友(也許是由於他在電力方面的工作,但我還沒有讀過這本書)。他於1801年病倒,幾年後去世,在此之前,他因與歐洲科學中心缺乏聯繫而受阻。另一方面,他與富蘭克林有聯繫。

在我看來,普里斯特利(Priestley)變得科學地孤立了,這是因為特別地(支持其他人也支持該理論)Phlogiston的傾向。確實沒有比他後來的生活更孤立的了。像這樣的隔離似乎並沒有很長,也沒有確實與Phlogiston理論的支持有關。

由於Phlogiston理論的支持,是否可以添加更多細節來支持隔離的建議?


附錄:

我提到卡文迪許是1787年在法國以外使用拉瓦錫理論的 first 。因此,給出了接受的時間表。此外,閱讀了卡文迪許當時的一些論文後,我發現他實際上支持Phlogiston有關氧氣的理論,這是出於非常務實的原因。卡文迪什是隱居的,我不反對他把普里斯特利與世隔絕,因為普里斯特利出版得很好,而且聯繫緊密。另一方面,卡文迪許也是FRS,即使他不看任何人,他也定期參加晚餐。因此,我不會將卡文迪許描述為孤立的。(感謝@Conifold提出此問題)。

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In researching this question and discussing with @conifold I came to two conclusions. Firstly, that Priestly was active and interactive in the scientific community almost to the month of his death. Secondly, that there is far less support for the suggestion that it is believed that he was rejected from the scientific community due to the Phlogiston debate than was my original impression based on some popular accounts. There is a great deal of believe that Priestley was wrong, but that is not the question I asked.

Having said that, I do believe that a question should be answered in the spirit in which it was asked (this time by me). So with acknowledgement to @conifold for helpful comments (see the chat) I give the result of my research on the matter.


It has been stated in several popular sources that in his later career, Joseph Priestly became isolated from the orthodox scientific community due to his continued and unpopular support for the Phlogiston theory then eschewed by the community at large.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Priestley

"However, Priestley's determination to defend phlogiston theory and to reject what would become the chemical revolution eventually left him isolated within the scientific community".

This seems to be a misrepresentation of the situation.

Priestly did not start the theory of phlogiston, he used it. Stahl is usually credited with developing the theory in 1703, but the word had been used in 1606 in more or less the same way. Priestly was born 1733, so by the time he was say, 30, it was like being a follower of Einstein in the 1960s. Stahl was generally recognised as giving a good rational theory of some chemical reactions.

Priestly was not a recluse. He had engaged in the late 1700s in a variety of pamphlet campaigns, some of which were considered rather inflamatory and he spoke out against the reformed church. He was described by his opponents as a conflict between a priestly politician and a political priest.

Lavoisier wrote on oxygen (which he mistakenly named acid maker) in 1775 with his Easter Paper to the French Academy. And then started the anti phlogiston movement by responding to Priestly's complaints that Lavoisier had not acknoweldged Priestly's work in the matter, by claiming that Priestly totally misunderstood the experiments and deserved no credit.

Cavendish in England is said to be the first person to start working with the oxygen theory around 1787, however, his papers on this at this time show a mild favoring of the Phlogiston theory. He also developed a theory that effectively equated Phlogiston with Hydrogen, and did a better job of explaining acid reactions than did Lavoisier.

However, by 1797, Kant reported that the Phlogiston theory had been replaced by the Oxygen theory in a rapid change of opinion within the scientific establishment. In 1797, Priestly wrote Observations on Phlogiston and the decomposition of water - which was effectively an explicit defence of the Phlogiston theory against the Oxygen theory.

In 1800, Priestly, himself, was explicitly identifying Phlogiston with Hydrogen rather than oxygen. This is was not a turn around, as the identification of Phlogiston with negative oxygen, a common notion today, was not inevitable. The core issue was to explain the chemical reactions by combinatorics of elements. The details had been under flux for a couple of centuries and would continue to be so for another century.

In November of 1801, Priestly responded to a paper by Cruickshank regarding the chemistry of carbon monoxide. Priestly supported the Phlogiston theory. However, for 1802 and 1803 he seems to have focused on other scientific work. In Priestly's career, the Phlogiston theory was not everything, he defended it strongly and rationally, and does not seem to ever have been converted to the Lavoisier school. But, he defended it in interaction with, and even with some support from, the scientific community of the time.

Priestly died in early 1804. It is hard to say what would have happened next. He might have become a crank ranting about a discarded theory, or he might have been converted, or he might have continued to be no longer interested enough to continue the debate. But, he died, and there seems to be no period of his life in which the image of Priestly rejected by the orthodox science for his loudly proclaimed views is justified.