Ph.D., Department of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine, Indiana University
2018 to 2019
NEH Postdoctoral Fellow
Seminal Ideas: The Forces of Generation for Robert Boyle and his Contemporaries
This project focuses on the problem of generation, or coming-to-be, as treated by famed English Aristocrat Robert Boyle. I investigate his writings on its organizing forces—seminal principles, plastic powers, and petrifick spirits—and argue that Boyle presents a distinctly mechanical explanation for these generative principles. To this end, I show that his account was accepted by many of his contemporaries as such, clarifying contemporary perspectives about mechanical explanations. I follow the various communities in Europe with which Robert Boyle interacted, examining early sources and later reception of his ideas across the various institutions across Europe. In doing so, I demonstrate his previously unexamined influence upon medicine, geology, and the life sciences.
Read more about Ashley's work here.