The Limits of Matter
Chemistry, Mining, and Enlightenment
Fors reveals how, early in the eighteenth century, chemists began to view metals no longer as the ingredients for “chrysopoeia”—or gold making—but as elemental substances, or the basic building blocks of matter. At the center of this emerging idea, argues Fors, was the Bureau of Mines of the Swedish State, which saw the practical and profitable potential of these materials in the economies of mining and smelting.
By studying the chemists at the Swedish Bureau of Mines and their networks, and integrating their practices into the wider European context, Fors illustrates how they and their successors played a significant role in the development of our modern notion of matter and made a significant contribution to the modern European view of reality.
1 Introduction: The Edges of the Map
2 Of Witches, Trolls, and Inquisitive Men
3 Chymists in the Mining Business
4 From Curious to Ingenious Knowledge
5 Elements of Enlightenment
6 Capturing the Laughing Gnome
7 Conclusion: Material Reality and the Enlightenment