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Robert Boyle

(1627—1691) natural philosopher


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(1627–92)

Irish scientist. Born the fourteenth son of the first earl of Cork, Boyle was able to pursue an independent life devoted to scientific and academic matters. He was the most important British chemist of his time, whose work on gases is remembered in Boyle's law. He was an important figure in the 17th-century rejection of Aristotelian emphases on final causes, believing that all the properties of materials can be explained by the size, shape, and motion of particles, and the textures to which their associations give rise. His major work was The Sceptical Chemist (1661), but he wrote widely not only on chemical but on philosophical and theological matters. His General History of the Air was published in 1692. His conception of the qualities of things, and the division between primary and secondary qualities, was a major influence on Locke.


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