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Lister And The Royal Society's Debates About Plant Circulation In The 1670s

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Chapter Summary

In the early 1670s, Lister used the medium of correspondence as an aid in his research to delineate the flow of sap and other fluids in trees and vegetables. This was a topic that he had been working on with Ray and Willoughby from 1669 until a few months after Willoughby's death in 1672. Nehemiah Grew, a botanist and secretary to the Royal Society, had an interest in Lister's work. He has been subject to extensive scholarly analysis, ranging from his work in plant anatomy and saline chemistry, to his cataloguing of the Royal Society collections, and his philosophy of vitalism. As his botanical research was becoming increasingly unproductive, Lister's interest shifted from living plants to what he thought were fossilized ones. Fossils of sea-lilies or crinoids were widely considered a plant-like mineral substance, but it was debatable whether they were the remains of living creatures or merely "formed stones".

Keywords:fossils; Lister; Nehemiah Grew; philosophy of vitalism; plant anatomy; Ray; Royal Society; saline chemistry; Willoughby



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