Journal of the History of Philosophy 34 (1):146-149 (1996)

Manfred Kuehn
Boston University
146 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 34:1 JANUARY 1996 thought that the two were incompatible and opted for one or the other. Others, most notably Robert Boyle, "the Christian Virtuoso," thought that the two were compatible. The most reliable kind of person was the Christian gentleman, because he was a supposedly disinterested spectator. Physicians, chemists, schoolmen, priests, and pro- fessional authors all had professional or mercenary interests that made their testimony suspect. A large part of the book, especially chapters 4 through 8, become a social and intellectual biography of Boyle. Since even gentlemen make mistakes, it became important for philosopher- scientists to devise criteria for reliable testimony. John Locke summarized these condi- tions within the dimensions of "multiplicity, plausibility, directness, knowledgeability, and the like." Part of being a gentleman was engaging in civil conversation. The rules of such conversation prohibited "the notions of truth, certainty, rigor, and precision" that were appropriate to "scholarly inquiry but out of place in civil conversation." One conse- quence of this was that Boyle was uneasy with the use of mathematics in experimental sciences. The requirements of civil conversation also excluded technicians from the scientific community proper. Although they in fact did much of the work upon which scientific progress depended, the gentlemen who employed these technicians spoke for them and took..
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DOI 10.1353/hph.1996.0003
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