In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS 401 solve the perplexing problem of Priestley's stubborn adherence to the phlogiston theoryha problem which perhaps reveals the major weakness of the whole interpretation: the belief that Priestley's science may be adequately comprehended by seeing him solely as a scientist. Joseph Priestley was, after all, an eighteenth-century figure. Living in a world in which the very term scientist did not exist, he was by persuasion, profession, and occupation first and foremost a minister of the Gospel, and only secondarily a supporter of radical politics and a lover of natural philosophy. To distinguish sharply this philosophy from his theology and politics is to indulge in that form of Whiggish hindsight to which the history of science is still all-too-prone. Schofield is aware of the danger--witness his inclusion of the completely "unscientific" but highly-revealing exchange of letters with Boscovich--but even so he is far from fully convinced. Thus he can refer to Priestley's correspondence on "Hartleyo ian physiological psychology" as relating primarily to theology and metaphysics "with only occasional and casual scientific references," while yet listing the Disquisitions on matter and ~dr/t among Priestley's scientific works l Such are the demarcation difficulties for those who would divide and classify interwoven networks of ideas! All recent enquiry has served to suggest how closely related--and how characteristic of British Newtonians--were Priestley's twin concerns with science and religion, and how important group (i.e., political) loyalties were in the acceptance and rejection of ideas in the still unprofessionalized context of eighteenth-century science. Examples of the importance of such loyalties abound in Priestley's own life, from his post-l?91 ostracism by the Royal Society, to his own later reflections on changing English reactions to the ideas of French chemists. Yet in this present study Schofield makes little effort to explore the theological setting of Priestley's scientific matter-theory, or the group-loyalties that affected the reception of his ideas. It may well be that the new synthesis that will relate a man's science to his wider body of beliefs, and to his context in society, is still beyond us. If so, it is far from clear that the production of individual scientific biographies, such as Schofield now pro~ poses, is the most fruitful line of attack. All this said, one cannot but be grateful for the energy devoted to this book, and for the fascinating human document with which we have been presented. Here Priestley comes alive again as a man of warm humanity, prodigious nervous energy, deep courage, and touching faith in human progress. Any layman who picks up the volume cannot but be enthralled by its contents. And all students of eighteenth-century ideas will be forced to view Priestley afreshhand perhaps someone will even be challenged to attempt that unified account which still escapes the narrow vision of historians of science. ARNOLDTHACKPAY University of Pennsylvania Kant: Philosophical Correspondence 1759-99. Ed. and trans. Arnulf Zweig. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967.Pp. x + 260. $7~0) As Amulf Zweig indicates in his translator's preface, this volume contains most if not all of the philosophical correspondence of Kant and some letters of biographical interest as well. Also included are various letters to Kant, the most important of which, perhaps, being those from LamberL Mendelssohn, Maimon, and Markus Herz. These and the other letters received by Kant which are included in this volume, together, of course, with Kant's own letters, give us valuable if often indirect and circumstantial information concerning the development of Kant's doctrines, their reception, and the misinterpretations to which they fell prey. One also gleans insights from them concerning the philosophical climate of Germany during the last third of the eighteenth century. In letters both to and from Kant a great deal of extra-philosophical, biographical information is to be found as well. I shall limit myself to a consideration of the philosophical material, selecting from it a few notions I consider to be helpful to an understanding of Kant's philosophical development and the interpretation of his basic doctrines. For the most part I shall be following...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 401-404
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.