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The Enlightened Joseph Priestley A Study of His Life and Work from 1773 to 1804

by Robert E. Schofield

The Enlightened Joseph Priestley A Study of His Life and Work from 1773 to 1804 Synopsis

In The Enlightened Joseph Priestley Robert Schofield completes his two-volume biography of one of the great figures of the English Enlightenment. The first volume, published in 1997, covered the first forty years of Joseph Priestley's life in England. In this second volume, Schofield surveys the mature years of Priestley, including the achievements that were to make him famous--the discovery of oxygen, the defenses of Unitarianism, and the political liberalism that characterized his later life. He also recounts Priestley's flight to Pennsylvania in 1794 and the final years of his life spent along the Susquehanna in Northumberland. Together, the two volumes will stand as the standard biography of Priestley for years to come. Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), a contemporary and friend of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, exceeded even these polymaths in the breadth of his curiosity and learning. Yet Priestley is often portrayed in negative terms, as a restless intellect, incapable of confining himself to any single task, without force or originality, and marked by hasty and superficial thought. In The Enlightened Joseph Priestley, he emerges as a man who was more than a lucky empiricist in science, more than a naive political liberal, more than an exhaustive compiler of superficial evidence in militant support of Unitarianism. In fact, he was learned in an extraordinary variety of subjects, from grammar, education, aesthetics, metaphysics, politics, and theology to natural philosophy. Priestley was, in fact, a man of the Enlightenment.

The Enlightened Joseph Priestley A Study of His Life and Work from 1773 to 1804 Press Reviews

Schofield succeeds brilliantly. --Michael F. Conlin, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography Undaunted by the great mass, intellectual range and contextual variety of Joseph Priestley's work and life, Robert Schofield deserves our lasting gratitude for bringing to bear a scholarly lifetime's knowledge of his subject in this concluding volume of his intellectual biography. --John Christie, Times Higher Education Supplement Robert Schofield has done this remarkable man proud. Others may write shorter and perhaps more popular biographies of Joseph Priestley, but they will do so in the shadow of this magisterial work. --Derek A. Davenport, Bulletin for the History of Chemistry Robert E. Schofield's last volume of his biography of Priestley devotes detailed chapters both to philosophical doctrines and to the extraordinary controversies they engendered. No author has done a better job at laying out the complexities of a materialism that Priestley saw as compatible with Christianity and of a necessitarianism he thought would rescue Protestantism from the absurdity of Calvinist doctrine. . . . He has written in a masterly way about a subject that is uniquely his own. --Margaret C. Jacob, Journal of American History

Book Information

ISBN: 9780271036250
Publication date: 8th May 2009
Author: Robert E. Schofield
Publisher: Pennsylvania State University Press
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 480 pages
Categories: Biography: historical, political & military, Science: general issues,

About Robert E. Schofield

Robert E. Schofield is Professor of History Emeritus at Iowa State University, where he was also Director of the Program in History of Technology and Science. The first volume of his Priestley biography, The Enlightenment of Joseph Priestley, was published by Penn State Press in 1997. He is also the editor of A Scientific Autobiography of Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) (1966).

More About Robert E. Schofield

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