By Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent
This publication makes use of heritage to introduce critical matters within the philosophy of chemistry. Mobilizing the topic of impurity, it explores the culture of chemistry s adverse photo. It then argues for the confident philosophical worth of chemistry, reflecting its attribute sensible engagement with the fabric international. The publication concludes with a few moral reflections pertaining to chemistry s orientations within the twenty-first century.
Contents: advent: Chemistry and its Discontents; Chemistry and pollutants; The Damnation of the Alchemist; the gap of the Laboratory; facts within the Laboratory; Chemistry Creates Its item; A Duel among Conceptions of subject; Chemistry as opposed to Physics; Atoms or parts; Positivism and Chemistry; Atoms as Fictions; company and kinfolk; Taming the Nanoworld; in the direction of a accountable Chemistry.
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Additional resources for Chemistry The Impure Science
6–25. J. Meikle (1993), p. 12. J. Baudrillard (1968). K. E. Boulding (1966), pp. 3–14. qxd 9/2/2008 9:20 AM Page 33 C HAPTER 3 THE DAMNATION OF THE ALCHEMIST In the previous chapter, we used the history of chemistry to explore and explain the recent (or perhaps not so recent) crisis of confidence in chemistry. This problem is accentuated by the fact that the crisis resonates with much older traditions and perceptions of chemistry. Thus, our modern-day fear of chemistry reflects a much longer collective memory stretching back at least to the medieval period.
Plastic has come to be seen as throwing off the constraints and oppressive weight associated with traditional materials. Furthermore, following the advent of the information age, it is synthetic materials that are seen to most nearly attain the ideal of virtuality. Associated with novelty, change and innovation, the use of plastics became a symbol of precisely these qualities. In his analysis of contemporary myths written in 1971, the French philosopher Roland Barthes described the new relationship to nature precipitated by the dissemination of plastics, qualifying it as miraculous.
This work of collecting animal and vegetable products served for a long time as the basis for the chemical arts whose main goal was to render natural products suitable for human use. If we look at the origins of the word “ammonia” for example, we can see the remnants of precisely this kind of process. According to etymological tradition, the word comes from the town of “Ammon” where artisans collected excrement from camels (or other herbivores that fed on salty vegetables), which they then dried in the desert sun to obtain ammonia (ammonium chloride).
Chemistry The Impure Science by Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent