The Philosophy of Chemistry

It would seem that philosophy of chemistry emerged only recently. Since the early 1990s philosophers and chemists began to meet in many different countries to discuss philosophical issues of chemistry – at first in isolated national groups but soon cultivating international exchange through regular meetings and the publications of two journals (Hyle and Foundations of Chemistry) devoted to the philosophy of chemistry. While the social formation is indeed a recent phenomenon that is still in progress, the philosophical topics have a much longer history that in some cases predates chemistry. One could even argue that ancient Greek natural philosophy started with profoundly chemical questions about the elemental constitution of the world and about how to provide reason to the sheer unlimited material variety and its wondrous changes in which, for instance, water becomes solid or gaseous; wood turns into fire, smoke, and ashes; stones change into metals; food transforms into the human body; or certain materials convert a sick body into a healthy body. In fact there is an almost continuous philosophical tradition focused on such questions. Because Aristotle’s natural philosophy, which was centered on his theory of elements, was influential far into the 18th century, it provided the basis for much of chemical philosophy
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