Encyclopedia of Early Modern Philosophy and the Sciences

Living Edition
| Editors: Dana Jalobeanu, Charles T. Wolfe


  • Ku-ming (Kevin) ChangEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-20791-9_482-1



For many chemists active in the second half of the eighteenth century, phlogiston, the principle of inflammability, served to explain qualities that were associated with combustion and calcination. They considered Georg Ernst Stahl (and secondarily Johann Joachim Becher before him) to be the source of this term. The chemical revolution late in the century has traditionally been seen as the “overthrow of the phlogiston theory” (Conant 1957; Perrin 1981; McEvoy 2010), although recent works consider this a whiggish interpretation (Chang 2009, 2010, 2015).

Stahl’s Teaching on Phlogiston

Stahl first brought up the notion of phlogiston in his works on the formation of sulfurous and sulfuric acids by burning sulfur in the open air (Stahl 1715a, b) and on fermentation (Stahl 1697; Chang 2002). He and Becher built their notion on the sulfur principle of the Paracelsian tria prima(three first...

Related Topics

Becher, Johann Joachim Cavendish, Henry Chemical Revolution Geoffroy, Étienne-François Juncker, Johann Kirwan, Richard Lavoisier, Antoine-Laurent Macquer, Pierre-Joseph Paracelsus Priestley, Joseph Rouelle, Guillaume-François Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris Scheele, Carl Wilhelm Stahl, Georg Ernst 
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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of History and PhilologyAcademia SinicaTaipeiTaiwan

Section editors and affiliations

  • Hiro Hirai
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for the History of Philosophy and ScienceRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands