Foundations of Chemistry

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 203-232

First online:

Pierre Duhem: Mixture and Chemical Combination and Related Essays. Edited and translated, with an Introduction, by Paul Needham

  • Robert J. DelteteAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Seattle University, 900 Broadway
  • , Anastasios BrennerAffiliated withDépartement de Philosophie, Université de Toulouse-Le Mirail, 5, allées Antonio Machado, 31058

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The following is an essay review of Paul Needham's translation of Pierre Duhem's Lemixte et la combinaison chimique and a numberof other essays. In this review we describe theintent and general features of Le mixte and try to place it in the larger context of Duhem'sprogram for energetics. The long essay (Essay3) opposing Marcellin Berthelot'sthermochemistry is singled out for detailedcommentary, since it gives Duhem's reasons forendorsing Josiah Willard Gibbs's chemicalstatics. We argue that a chemical mechanics ofa Gibbsian sort, defended in Le mixte and otheressays in this volume, was the inspiration for,and basis of, Duhem's energetics. Needham'swelcome translations help an English-languageaudience to better understand the basiccontours of Duhem's important, if ultimatelymisguided, project. We conclude with somecomments on the difficulties in translatingDuhem and on the quality of the translationsNeedham has provided.