Conversations on Chemistry: Talk about Phlogiston in the Coffee House Society, 1780–1787
This chapter explores the Society's informed debates surrounding issues of chemistry and natural philosophy in the 1780s. It details the discussions on the role of phlogiston, an entity invoked by members of the society to account for a variety of chemical and physical phenomena. It concentrates on the group's discourse concerning phlogiston, and their references to it in connection both with chemical reactions and with the related phenomena of heat and light. It also shows how the manifold and interdisciplinary functions of phlogiston help us to understand the responses of English chemists and natural philosophers to the anti-phlogistic theories of Antoine Lavoisier. These theories were the subject of much critical discussion in the society and elsewhere in Britain and Europe at that time.
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