HOME

TheInfoList




Robert Boyle (; 25 January 1627 – 31 December 1691) was an
Anglo-Irish Anglo-Irish () is a term which was more commonly used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that di ...
natural philosopher,
chemist A chemist (from Greek ''chēm(ía)'' alchemy; replacing ''chymist'' from Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European la ...

chemist
,
physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific research to advance knowledge in an Branches of science, area of interest. In classical antiquity, there was no real ancient analog of a modern sci ...

physicist
, and inventor. Boyle is largely regarded today as the first modern chemist, and therefore one of the founders of modern
chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during a with other . ...

chemistry
, and one of the pioneers of modern experimental
scientific method The scientific method is an empirical Empirical evidence for a proposition is evidence, i.e. what supports or counters this proposition, that is constituted by or accessible to sense experience or experimental procedure. Empirical evidence ...

scientific method
. He is best known for Boyle's law, which describes the inversely proportional relationship between the absolute
pressure Pressure (symbol: ''p'' or ''P'') is the force In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space ...

pressure
and
volume Volume is a expressing the of enclosed by a . For example, the space that a substance (, , , or ) or occupies or contains. Volume is often quantified numerically using the , the . The volume of a container is generally understood to be the ...

volume
of a gas, if the temperature is kept constant within a
closed system A closed system is a physical system A physical system is a collection of physical objects. In physics, it is a portion of the physical universe chosen for analysis. Everything outside the system is known as the environment (systems), environme ...
. Among his works, ''
The Sceptical Chymist ''The Sceptical Chymist: or Chymico-Physical Doubts & Paradoxes'' is the title of a book by Robert Boyle Robert Boyle (; 25 January 1627 – 31 December 1691) was an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor. Bo ...

The Sceptical Chymist
'' is seen as a cornerstone book in the field of chemistry. He was a devout and pious
Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia * ...

Anglican
and is noted for his writings in theology.


Biography


Early years

Boyle was born at
Lismore Castle Lismore Castle ( ga, Caisleán an Lios Mhóir) is the Irish home of the Duke of Devonshire Duke of Devonshire is a Hereditary title, title in the Peerage of England held by members of the House of Cavendish, Cavendish family. This (now the s ...

Lismore Castle
, in
County Waterford County Waterford ( ga, Contae Phort Láirge) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in cert ...
, Ireland, the seventh son and fourteenth child of The 1st Earl of Cork ('the Great Earl of Cork') and . Lord Cork, then known simply as Richard Boyle, had arrived in
Dublin Dublin (; , or ) is the capital and largest city of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_( ...

Dublin
from England in 1588 during the
Tudor Tudor most commonly refers to: * House of Tudor, English royal house of Welsh origins ** Tudor period, a historical era in England coinciding with the rule of the Tudor dynasty Tudor may also refer to: Architecture * Tudor architecture, the fi ...
plantations of Ireland A more detailed map of the areas subjected to plantations Plantations in 16th- and 17th-century Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separ ...
and obtained an appointment as a deputy
escheator Escheat is a common law doctrine that transfers the real property of a person who has died without heirs to the Crown or state. It serves to ensure that property is not left in "limbo" without recognized ownership. It originally applied to a n ...
. He had amassed enormous wealth and landholdings by the time Robert was born, and had been created
Earl of Cork Earl of the County of Cork, usually shortened to Earl of Cork, is a title in the Peerage of Ireland, held in conjunction with the Earldom of Orrery since 1753. It was created in 1620 for the Anglo-Irish politician Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork ...
in October 1620. Catherine Fenton,
Countess Count (feminine: countess) is a historical title of nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility ...

Countess
of
Cork Cork or CORK may refer to: Materials * Cork (material), an impermeable buoyant plant product ** Cork (plug), a cylindrical or conical object used to seal a container ***Wine cork Places Ireland * Cork (city) ** Metropolitan Cork, also known as Gr ...
, was the daughter of Sir Geoffrey Fenton, the former
Secretary of State for Ireland The Principal Secretary of State, or Principal Secretary of the Council, was a government office in the Kingdom of Ireland. It was abolished in 1801 when Ireland became part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland under the Acts of Union ...
, who was born in Dublin in 1539, and Alice Weston, the daughter of Robert Weston, who was born in Lismore in 1541. As a child, Boyle was raised by a
wet nurse A wet nurse is a woman who breastfeeding, breast feeds and cares for another's child. Wet nurses are employed if the mother dies, or if she is unable or chooses not to nurse the child herself. Wet-nursed children may be known as "milk-siblings", ...
, as were his elder brothers. Boyle received private tutoring in Latin, Greek, and French and when he was eight years old, following the death of his mother, he, and his brother Francis, were sent to
Eton College Eton College () is a public school (private sector) for boys in Eton, Berkshire Eton ( ) is a town in Berkshire, England, on the opposite bank of the River Thames to Windsor, connected to it by Windsor Bridge. The civil parish In ...

Eton College
in England. His father's friend,
Sir Henry Wotton Sir Henry Wotton (; 30 March 1568 – December 1639) was an English author, diplomat and politician who sat in the House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom ...
, was then the
provost Provost may refer to: People * Provost (name)Provost is a surname of French origin, deriving from a civil or military official responsible for maintaining order. It moved to England with its conquering by William of Normandy in 1066. It is stil ...
of the college. During this time, his father hired a private tutor, Robert Carew, who had knowledge of
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
, to act as private tutor to his sons in Eton. However, "only Mr. Robert sometimes desires it rishand is a little entered in it", but despite the "many reasons" given by Carew to turn their attentions to it, "they practice the French and Latin but they affect not the Irish". After spending over three years at Eton, Robert travelled abroad with a French tutor. They visited Italy in 1641 and remained in
Florence Florence ( ; it, Firenze ) is a city in Central-Northern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a Northern Italy, continental part, delimited by the ...

Florence
during the winter of that year studying the "paradoxes of the great star-gazer"
Galileo Galilei Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei (; 15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) was an Italian astronomer An astronomer is a scientist in the field of astronomy who focuses their studies on a specific question or field outside the ...

Galileo Galilei
, who was elderly but still living in 1641.


Middle years

Robert returned to England from
continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical region ...

continental Europe
in mid-1644 with a keen interest in scientific research. His father, Lord Cork, had died the previous year and had left him the manor of
Stalbridge Stalbridge () is a small town and civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government. It is a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government below districts and count ...
in Dorset as well as substantial estates in
County Limerick County Limerick ( ga, Contae Luimnigh) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in certain mod ...
in Ireland that he had acquired. Robert then made his residence at Stalbridge House, between 1644 and 1652, and settled a laboratory where he conducted many experiments. From that time, Robert devoted his life to
scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. The usual test for a statement of fac ...

scientific
research and soon took a prominent place in the band of enquirers, known as the " Invisible College", who devoted themselves to the cultivation of the "new philosophy". They met frequently in London, often at
Gresham College Gresham College is an institution of higher learning located at Hall off in , . It does not enroll students or award degrees. It was founded in 1597 under the of Sir , and hosts over 140 free public lectures every year. Since 2001, all lectu ...
, and some of the members also had meetings at
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2017, its population was estimated at 152,450. It is northwest of London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Ki ...

Oxford
. Having made several visits to his Irish estates beginning in 1647, Robert moved to Ireland in 1652 but became frustrated at his inability to make progress in his chemical work. In one letter, he described Ireland as "a barbarous country where chemical spirits were so misunderstood and chemical instruments so unprocurable that it was hard to have any Hermetic thoughts in it." In 1654, Boyle left Ireland for Oxford to pursue his work more successfully. An inscription can be found on the wall of
University College, Oxford University College (in full The College of the Great Hall of the University of Oxford, colloquially referred to as "Univ") is a Colleges of the University of Oxford, constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. It has a claim to ...
, the
High Street High Street is a common street name for the primary business Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling Product (business), products (such as goods and services). Simply put, it is "a ...
at
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2017, its population was estimated at 152,450. It is northwest of London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Ki ...

Oxford
(now the location of the
Shelley Memorial The Shelley Memorial is a memorial to the English poet A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform their art to an au ...
), marking the spot where Cross Hall stood until the early 19th century. It was here that Boyle rented rooms from the wealthy apothecary who owned the Hall. Reading in 1657 of
Otto von Guericke Otto von Guericke ( , , ; spelled Gericke until 1666; November 20, 1602 – May 11, 1686 Julian_calendar">nowiki/>Julian_calendar.html" ;"title="Julian_calendar.html" ;"title="nowiki/>Julian calendar">nowiki/>Julian calendar">Julian_calendar.h ...

Otto von Guericke
's air pump, he set himself, with the assistance of
Robert Hooke Robert Hooke FRS FRS may also refer to: Government and politics * Facility Registry System, a centrally managed Environmental Protection Agency database that identifies places of environmental interest in the United States * Family Resources ...
, to devise improvements in its construction, and with the result, the "machina Boyleana" or "Pneumatical Engine", finished in 1659, he began a series of experiments on the properties of air and coined the term factitious airs. An account of Boyle's work with the air pump was published in 1660 under the title ''New Experiments Physico-Mechanical, Touching the Spring of the Air, and its Effects''. Among the critics of the views put forward in this book was a
Jesuit , image = Ihs-logo.svg , caption = Christogram A Christogram (Latin ') is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ, traditionally used as a Christian symbolism, ...
, Francis Line (1595–1675), and it was while answering his objections that Boyle made his first mention of the law that the volume of a gas varies inversely to the pressure of the gas, which among English-speaking people is usually called Boyle's Law after his name. The person who originally formulated the hypothesis was
Henry Power Henry Power FRS (1623–1668) was an English physician and experimenter, one of the first elected Fellows of the Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society an ...
in 1661. Boyle in 1662 included a reference to a paper written by Power, but mistakenly attributed it to
Richard Towneley Richard Towneley (10 October 1629 – 22 January 1707) was an English mathematician, Natural philosophy, natural philosopher and astronomer, resident at Towneley Hall, near Burnley in Lancashire. His uncle was the antiquarian and mathematician ...
. In continental Europe the hypothesis is sometimes attributed to
Edme Mariotte Edme Mariotte (; ; c. 162012 May 1684) was a French physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific research to advance knowledge in an Branches of science, area of interest. In classi ...

Edme Mariotte
, although he did not publish it until 1676 and was likely aware of Boyle's work at the time. In 1663 the Invisible College became The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, and the charter of incorporation granted by
Charles II of England Charles II (29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685) was King of Scotland The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy, constitutional form of government by which a hereditary m ...

Charles II of England
named Boyle a member of the council. In 1680 he was elected president of the society, but declined the honour from a scruple about oaths. He made a "wish list" of 24 possible inventions which included "the prolongation of life", the "art of flying", "perpetual light", "making armour light and extremely hard", "a ship to sail with all winds, and a ship not to be sunk", "practicable and certain way of finding longitudes", "potent drugs to alter or exalt imagination, waking, memory and other functions and appease pain, procure innocent sleep, harmless dreams, etc.". All but a few of the 24 have come true. In 1668 he left Oxford for London where he resided at the house of his elder sister Katherine Jones, Lady Ranelagh, in Pall Mall. He experimented in the laboratory she had in her home and attended her salon of intellectuals interested in the sciences. The siblings maintained "a lifelong intellectual partnership, where brother and sister shared medical remedies, promoted each other's scientific ideas, and edited each other's manuscripts." His contemporaries widely acknowledged Katherine's influence on his work, but later historiographers dropped discussion of her accomplishments and relationship to her brother from their histories.


Later years

In 1669 his health, never very strong, began to fail seriously and he gradually withdrew from his public engagements, ceasing his communications to the Royal Society, and advertising his desire to be excused from receiving guests, "unless upon occasions very extraordinary", on Tuesday and Friday forenoon, and Wednesday and Saturday afternoon. In the leisure thus gained he wished to "recruit his spirits, range his papers", and prepare some important chemical investigations which he proposed to leave "as a kind of Hermetic legacy to the studious disciples of that art", but of which he did not make known the nature. His health became still worse in 1691, and he died on 31 December that year, just a week after the death of his sister, Katherine, in whose home he had lived and with whom he had shared scientific pursuits for more than twenty years. Boyle died from paralysis. He was buried in the churchyard of
St Martin-in-the-Fields St Martin-in-the-Fields is an English Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *We ...

St Martin-in-the-Fields
, his funeral sermon being preached by his friend, Bishop
Gilbert Burnet Gilbert Burnet (18 September 1643 – 17 March 1715) was a Scottish Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: *Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family native to Sc ...

Gilbert Burnet
. In his will, Boyle endowed a series of lectures that came to be known as the
Boyle Lectures The Boyle Lectures are named after Robert Boyle Robert Boyle (; 25 January 1627 – 31 December 1691) was an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor. Boyle is largely regarded today as the first modern chemis ...
.


Scientific investigator

Boyle's great merit as a scientific investigator is that he carried out the principles which
Francis Bacon Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban, (; 22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626), also known as Lord Verulam, was an English philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General for England and Wales, Attorney General and as Lord Chancellor of K ...
espoused in the ''
Novum Organum The ''Novum Organum'', fully ''Novum Organum, sive Indicia Vera de Interpretatione Naturae'' ("New organon, or true directions concerning the interpretation of nature") or ''Instaurationis Magnae, Pars II'' ("Part II of The Great Instauration") ...

Novum Organum
''. Yet he would not avow himself a follower of Bacon, or indeed of any other teacher. On several occasions he mentions that to keep his judgment as unprepossessed as might be with any of the modern theories of philosophy, until he was "provided of experiments" to help him judge of them. He refrained from any study of the atomical and the systems, and even of the Novum Organum itself, though he admits to "transiently consulting" them about a few particulars. Nothing was more alien to his mental temperament than the spinning of hypotheses. He regarded the acquisition of knowledge as an end in itself, and in consequence he gained a wider outlook on the aims of scientific inquiry than had been enjoyed by his predecessors for many centuries. This, however, did not mean that he paid no attention to the practical application of science nor that he despised knowledge which tended to use. Robert Boyle was an
alchemist Depiction of Ouroboros from the alchemical treatise ''Aurora consurgens'' (15th century), Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Switzerland Alchemy (from Arabic: ''al-kīmiyā''; from Ancient Greek: ''khumeía'') is an ancient branch of natural philosop ...
; and believing the transmutation of metals to be a possibility, he carried out experiments in the hope of achieving it; and he was instrumental in obtaining the repeal, in 1689, of the statute of
Henry IVHenry IV may refer to: People * Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor (1050–1106), King of The Romans and Holy Roman Emperor * Henry IV, Duke of Limburg (1195–1247) * Henry IV, Duke of Brabant (1251/1252–1272) * Henryk IV Probus (c. 1258–1290), Duke ...

Henry IV
against multiplying gold and silver. With all the important work he accomplished in
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical scie ...

physics
– the enunciation of Boyle's law, the discovery of the part taken by air in the propagation of sound, and investigations on the expansive force of freezing water, on specific gravities and
refractive In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior throu ...

refractive
powers, on
crystal A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformatio ...

crystal
s, on electricity, on colour, on
hydrostatics Fluid statics or hydrostatics is the branch of fluid mechanics Fluid mechanics is the branch of physics concerned with the mechanics Mechanics (Ancient Greek, Greek: ) is the area of physics concerned with the motions of physical object ...
, etc. –
chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during a with other . ...

chemistry
was his peculiar and favourite study. His first book on the subject was ''The Sceptical Chymist'', published in 1661, in which he criticised the "experiments whereby vulgar are wont to endeavour to evince their Salt,
Sulphur Sulfur (in nontechnical British English: sulphur) is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consis ...

Sulphur
and
Mercury Mercury usually refers to: * Mercury (planet) Mercury is the smallest planet in the Solar System and the closest to the Sun. Its orbit around the Sun takes 87.97 Earth days, the shortest of all the Sun's planets. It is named after the Roman g ...

Mercury
to be the true Principles of Things." For him chemistry was the science of the composition of substances, not merely an adjunct to the arts of the alchemist or the physician. He endorsed the view of elements as the undecomposable constituents of material bodies; and made the distinction between
mixture In chemistry, a mixture is a material made up of two or more different chemical substances which are not chemically combined. A mixture is the physical combination of two or more substances in which the identities are retained and are mixed in th ...

mixture
s and
compound Compound may refer to: Architecture and built environments * Compound (enclosure), a cluster of buildings having a shared purpose, usually inside a fence or wall ** Compound (fortification), a version of the above fortified with defensive structu ...
s. He made considerable progress in the technique of detecting their ingredients, a process which he designated by the term "analysis". He further supposed that the elements were ultimately composed of
particle In the Outline of physical science, physical sciences, a particle (or corpuscule in older texts) is a small wikt:local, localized physical body, object to which can be ascribed several physical property, physical or chemical property, chemical p ...
s of various sorts and sizes, into which, however, they were not to be resolved in any known way. He studied the chemistry of
combustion Combustion, or burning, is a high-temperature exothermic redox chemical reaction between a fuel (the reductant) and an oxidant, usually atmospheric oxygen, that produces oxidized, often gaseous products, in a mixture termed as smoke. Combustion ...
and of
respiration Respiration may refer to: Biology * Cellular respiration, the process in which nutrients are converted into useful energy in a cell ** Anaerobic respiration, cellular respiration without oxygen ** Maintenance respiration, the amount of cellular ...
, and conducted experiments in
physiology Physiology (; ) is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...
, where, however, he was hampered by the "tenderness of his nature" which kept him from anatomical
dissection Dissection (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic ...

dissection
s, especially
vivisection Vivisection () is surgery conducted for experimental purposes on a living organism, typically animals with a central nervous system, to view living internal structure. The word is, more broadly, used as a pejorative catch-all term for Animal testi ...

vivisection
s, though he knew them to be "most instructing".


Theological interests

In addition to philosophy, Boyle devoted much time to theology, showing a very decided leaning to the practical side and an indifference to controversial
polemic Polemic () is contentious rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic – see Martianus Capella), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims ...
s. At the
Restoration Restoration is the act of restoring something to its original state and may refer to: * Conservation and restoration of cultural heritage * Restoration style Film and television * ''The Restoration'' (1909 film), a film by D.W. Griffith starr ...
of the king in 1660, he was favourably received at court and in 1665 would have received the provostship of Eton College had he agreed to take holy orders, but this he refused to do on the ground that his writings on religious subjects would have greater weight coming from a layman than a paid minister of the Church. Moreover, Boyle incorporated his scientific interests into his theology, believing that natural philosophy could provide powerful evidence for the existence of God. In works such as ''Disquisition about the Final Causes of Natural Things'' (1688), for instance, he criticised contemporary philosophers – such as
René Descartes René Descartes ( or ; ; Latinized Latinisation or Latinization can refer to: * Latinisation of names, the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style * Latinisation in the Soviet Union, the campaign in the USSR during the 1920s ...

René Descartes
– who denied that the study of nature could reveal much about God. Instead, Boyle argued that natural philosophers could use the design apparently on display in some parts of nature to demonstrate God's involvement with the world. He also attempted to tackle complex theological questions using methods derived from his scientific practices. In ''Some Physico-Theological Considerations about the Possibility of the Resurrection'' (1675), he used a chemical experiment known as the reduction to the pristine state as part of an attempt to demonstrate the physical possibility of the resurrection of the body. Throughout his career, Boyle tried to show that science could lend support to Christianity. As a director of the
East India Company The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), East India Trading Company (EITC), the English East India Company or (after 1707) the British East India Company, and informally known as John Company, Com ...
he spent large sums in promoting the spread of Christianity in the East, contributing liberally to
missionary A missionary is a member of a Religious denomination, religious group sent into an area to promote their faith or provide services, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care, and economic development.Thomas Hale 'On Being a Missi ...

missionary
societies and to the expenses of translating the Bible or portions of it into various languages. Boyle supported the policy that the Bible should be available in the vernacular language of the people. An
Irish language Irish ( in Standard Irish Standard may refer to: Symbols * Colours, standards and guidons, kinds of military signs * Heraldic flag, Standard (emblem), a type of a large symbol or emblem used for identification Norms, conventions or requ ...
version of the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as ...

New Testament
was published in 1602 but was rare in Boyle's adult life. In 1680–85 Boyle personally financed the printing of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, in Irish. In this respect, Boyle's attitude to the Irish language differed from the
Protestant Ascendancy The Protestant Ascendancy, known simply as the Ascendancy, was the political, economic, and social domination of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. I ...
class in Ireland at the time, which was generally hostile to the language and largely opposed the use of Irish (not only as a language of religious worship). Boyle also had a monogenist perspective about
race Race, RACE or "The Race" may refer to: * Race (biology), an informal taxonomic classification within a species, generally within a sub-species * Race (human categorization), classification of humans into groups based on physical traits, and/or s ...
origin. He was a pioneer studying races, and he believed that all human beings, no matter how diverse their physical differences, came from the same source:
Adam and Eve Adam (Hebrew: ''ʾĀḏām'') and Eve ( ''‎‎Ḥavvā'') according to the creation myth of the Abrahamic religions, were the first man and woman. They are central to the belief that humanity is in essence a single family, with everyone des ...

Adam and Eve
. He studied reported stories of parents' giving birth to different coloured
albinos Albinism is the congenital absence of any pigmentation or colouration in a person, animal or plant, resulting in white hair, feathers, scales and skin and pink eyes in mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish and invertebrates as well. V ...
, so he concluded that Adam and Eve were originally white and that Caucasians could give birth to different coloured races. Boyle also extended the theories of
Robert Hooke Robert Hooke FRS FRS may also refer to: Government and politics * Facility Registry System, a centrally managed Environmental Protection Agency database that identifies places of environmental interest in the United States * Family Resources ...
and
Isaac Newton Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics a ...

Isaac Newton
about colour and light via optical projection (in
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical scie ...

physics
) into discourses of polygenesis, speculating that maybe these differences were due to "
seminal Seminal, ultimately from Latin ''wikt:semen#Latin, semen'', "seed", may refer to: *Relating to seeds *Relating to semen *(Of a work, event, or person) Having much social influence on later developments {{Disambig ...
impressions". Taking this into account, it might be considered that he envisioned a good explanation for
complexion Complexion in humans is the natural color Color (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the ...
at his time, due to the fact that now we know that skin colour is disposed by
genes In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechani ...

genes
, which are actually contained in the
semen Semen, also known as seminal fluid, is an organic fluid created to contain spermatozoon, spermatozoa. It is secreted by the gonads (sexual glands) and other sexual organs of male or hermaphrodite, hermaphroditic animals and can fertilization, f ...

semen
. Boyle's writings mention that at his time, for "European Eyes", beauty was not measured so much in colour of skin, but in "stature, comely symmetry of the parts of the body, and good features in the face". Various members of the scientific community rejected his views and described them as "disturbing" or "amusing". In his will, Boyle provided money for a series of lectures to defend the Christianity, Christian religion against those he considered "notorious infidels, namely Atheism, atheists, Deism, deists, Paganism, pagans, Jews and Muslims", with the provision that controversies between Christians were not to be mentioned (see
Boyle Lectures The Boyle Lectures are named after Robert Boyle Robert Boyle (; 25 January 1627 – 31 December 1691) was an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor. Boyle is largely regarded today as the first modern chemis ...
).


Awards and honours

As a founder of the Royal Society, he was elected a List of Fellows of the Royal Society elected in 1663, Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1663. Boyle's law is named in his honour. The Royal Society of Chemistry issues a Robert Boyle Prize for Analytical Science, named in his honour. The Boyle Medal for Scientific Excellence in Ireland, inaugurated in 1899, is awarded jointly by the Royal Dublin Society and The Irish Times. Launched in 2012, The Robert Boyle Summer School organized by the Waterford Institute of Technology with support from
Lismore Castle Lismore Castle ( ga, Caisleán an Lios Mhóir) is the Irish home of the Duke of Devonshire Duke of Devonshire is a Hereditary title, title in the Peerage of England held by members of the House of Cavendish, Cavendish family. This (now the s ...

Lismore Castle
, is held annually to honor the heritage of Robert Boyle.


Important works

The following are some of the more important of his works: * 1660 – ''New Experiments Physico-Mechanical: Touching the Spring of the Air and their Effects'' * 1661 – ''
The Sceptical Chymist ''The Sceptical Chymist: or Chymico-Physical Doubts & Paradoxes'' is the title of a book by Robert Boyle Robert Boyle (; 25 January 1627 – 31 December 1691) was an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor. Bo ...

The Sceptical Chymist
'' * 1662 – Whereunto is Added a Defence of the Authors Explication of the Experiments, Against the Obiections of Franciscus Linus and Thomas Hobbes (a book-length addendum to the second edition of ''New Experiments Physico-Mechanical'') * 1663 – ''Considerations touching the Usefulness of Experimental Natural Philosophy'' (followed by a second part in 1671) * 1664 – ''Experiments and Considerations Touching Colours, with Observations on a Diamond that Shines in the Dark'' * 1665 – ''New Experiments and Observations upon Cold'' * 1666 – ''Hydrostatical Paradoxes''Cf. Hunter (2009), p. 147. "It forms a kind of sequel to ''Spring of the Air'' ... but although Boyle notes he might have published it as part of an appendix to that work, it formed a self-contained whole, dealing with atmospheric pressure with particular reference to liquid masses" * 1666 – ''Origin of Forms and Qualities according to the Corpuscular Philosophy''. (A continuation of his work on the spring of air demonstrated that a reduction in ambient pressure could lead to bubble formation in living tissue. This description of a Viperidae, viper in a vacuum was the first recorded description of decompression sickness.) * 1669 – ''A Continuation of New Experiments Physico-mechanical, Touching the Spring and Weight of the Air, and Their Effects'' * 1670 – ''Tracts about the Cosmical Qualities of Things, the Temperature of the Subterraneal and Submarine Regions, the Bottom of the Sea, &tc. with an Introduction to the History of Particular Qualities'' * 1672 – ''Origin and Virtues of Gems'' * 1673 – Essays of the Strange Subtilty, Great Efficacy, Determinate Nature of Effluviums * 1674 – Two volumes of tracts on the Saltiness of the Sea, Suspicions about the Hidden Realities of the Air, Cold, Celestial Magnets * 1674 – ''Animadversions upon Mr. Hobbes's Problemata de Vacuo'' * 1676 – Experiments and Notes about the Mechanical Origin or Production of Particular Qualities, including some notes on electricity and magnetism * 1678 – ''Observations upon an artificial Substance that Shines without any Preceding Illustration'' * 1680 – ''The Aerial Noctiluca'' * 1682 – New Experiments and Observations upon the Icy Noctiluca (a further continuation of his work on the air) * 1684 – ''Memoirs for the Natural History of the Human Blood'' * 1685 – Short Memoirs for the Natural Experimental History of Mineral Waters * 1686 – ''A Free Enquiry into the Vulgarly Received Notion of Nature'' * 1690 – ''Medicina Hydrostatica'' * 1691 – ''Experimenta et Observationes Physicae'' Among his religious and philosophical writings were: * 1648/1660 – ''Seraphic Love'', written in 1648, but not published until 1660 * 1663 – ''Some Considerations Touching the Style of the H''[''oly''] ''Scriptures'' * 1664 – ''Excellence of Theology compared with Natural Philosophy'' * 1665 – Occasional Reflections upon Several Subjects, which was ridiculed by Jonathan Swift, Swift in Meditation Upon a Broomstick, and by Samuel Butler (1612–1680), Butler in An Occasional Reflection on Dr Charlton's Feeling a Dog's Pulse at Gresham College * 1675 – Some Considerations about the Reconcileableness of Reason and Religion, with a Discourse about the Possibility of the Resurrection * 1687 – ''The Martyrdom of Theodora, and of Didymus'' * 1690 – ''The Christian Virtuoso''


See also

*, phosphorus manufacturer who started as Boyle's assistant *, history section *, one of Boyle's theological works *, a painting of a demonstration of one of Boyle's experiments *, thermodynamic quantity named after Boyle * * * * * * *


References


Further reading

* M. A. Stewart (ed.), ''Selected Philosophical Papers of Robert Boyle'', Indianapolis: Hackett, 1991. * John Farquhar Fulton, Fulton, John F., ''A Bibliography of the Honourable Robert Boyle, Fellow of the Royal Society''. Second edition. Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1961. * Michael Hunter (historian), Hunter, Michael, ''Boyle : Between God and Science'', New Haven : Yale University Press, 2009. * Hunter, Michael
''Robert Boyle, 1627–91: Scrupulosity and Science''
The Boydell Press, 2000 * Principe, Lawrence
''The Aspiring Adept: Robert Boyle and His Alchemical Quest''
Princeton University Press, 1998 * Shapin, Stephen; Schaffer, Simon, ''Leviathan and the Air-Pump.'' * Ben-Zaken, Avner, "Exploring the Self, Experimenting Nature", i
''Reading Hayy Ibn-Yaqzan: A Cross-Cultural History of Autodidacticism''
(Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), pp. 101–126. ;Boyle's published works online
''The Sceptical Chymist''
– Project Gutenberg
''Essay on the Virtue of Gems''
– Gem and Diamond Foundation
''Experiments and Considerations Touching Colours''
– Gem and Diamond Foundation
''Experiments and Considerations Touching Colours''
– Project Gutenberg

University of London
''Hydrostatical Paradoxes''
– Google Books


External links


Robert Boyle
''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' *
Readable versions of Excellence of the mechanical hypothesis, Excellence of theology, and Origin of forms and qualities

Robert Boyle Project, Birkbeck, University of London


* [http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1997/PSCF3-97Woodall.html The Relationship between Science and Scripture in the Thought of Robert Boyle]
Robert Boyle and His Alchemical Quest : Including Boyle's "Lost" Dialogue on the Transmutation of Metals
Princeton University Press, 1998, * Robert Boyle's (1690
''Experimenta et considerationes de coloribus''
– digital facsimile from the Linda Hall Library {{DEFAULTSORT:Boyle, Robert 1627 births Irish Anglicans 1691 deaths 17th-century Anglo-Irish people Discoverers of chemical elements English alchemists 17th-century English chemists English physicists Founder Fellows of the Royal Society Independent scientists Irish alchemists Irish chemists Irish physicists People educated at Eton College People from Lismore, County Waterford Philosophers of science Boyle family, Robert Younger sons of earls 17th-century English writers 17th-century English male writers 17th-century Irish writers 17th-century Irish philosophers 17th-century English philosophers Fluid dynamicists 17th-century alchemists Writers about religion and science