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From Salts To Saline Spirits—The Rise Of Acids

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Chapter Summary

This chapter demonstrates that at the end of the seventeenth century, interest in the salt principle begin to decline. The chapter briefs about the rise of acids and alkalis in chemical and iatrochymical theory, and also about William Simpson. The authors then analyze the role of saline chymistry in the treatises of early eighteenth-century Newtonian physicians after Simpson. Van Helmont’s work also influenced theories on acids and alkalis by Franciscus Dele Boë Sylvius or Sylvius. Sylvius believed that the functions of an organism were determined by ferments or effervescences arising from the acidic or alkali character of bodily fluids. Tachenius in his Hippocrates Chimicus claimed that no fermentation, creation or decay of animals and plants could occur without acids. As Simpson was a Helmontian, his work may thus have been appealing to Newton as he speculated about the source of the motion of matter and its natural effects.

Keywords: acids; alkalis; Franciscus Dele Boë Sylvius; iatrochymical theory; Isaac Newton; Otto Tachenius; saline chymistry; salt; Van Helmont; William Simpson



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