In a scholarly career spanning five decades, Rhoda Rappaport published perceptive analyses of science in the culture of early Modern Europe, France in particular, with strong emphasis on geology's early development. Of the sixteen papers in this volume, most focus on aspects of geology's cultivation during the 'long' 18th century, from the times of Hooke, Leibniz, and Fontenelle to those of Lavoisier, Werner, and Cuvier. Among the topics most closely treated here are the French mineralogical mapping project initiated by Guettard; contemporary efforts to interpret the earth historically (such as through Noah's Flood); and difficulties presented by the vocabulary often used in traditional histories of geology. Much of Rappaport's research addressed two problems prevalent within 18th-century earth science: the proper understanding of petrifactions, or fossil objects; and struggles to establish reliable knowledge of the earth's past. She also examined the chemistry of G.-F. Rouelle, which she saw as effectively an attempt at systematic comprehension of the entire mineral realm; trans-national features of scientific pursuits as illustrated in the careers of the naturalist Vallisneri and the mineralogist (and philosophe) d'Holbach; and aspects of science's promotion in France through government patronage and academic privilege.
Rhoda Rappaport was Professor Emeritus of History at Vassar College, USA.
Contents: Introduction; Bibliography; Part I Chemistry: G.-F. Rouelle: an 18th-century chemist and teacher; Rouelle and Stahl: the phlogistic revolution in France. Part II The Mineralogical Atlas: Lavoisier's geologic activities, 1763-1792; Lavoisier's theory of the Earth; The geological atlas of Guettard, Lavoisier and Monnet: conflicting views of the nature of geology; The early disputes between Lavoisier and Monnet, 1777-1781. Part III Understanding the Earth and Its History: Hooke on earthquakes: lectures, strategy and audience; Fontenelle interprets the Earth's history; Leibnitz on geology: a newly discovered text; Geology and orthodoxy: the case of Noah's Flood in 18th-century thought. Part IV The Language of Earth Science: Borrowed words: problems of vocabulary in 18th-century geology; Dangerous words: diluvialism, Neptunism, catastrophism. Part V Scientific Pursuits in Early Modern Europe: Italy and Europe: the case of Antonio Vallisneri (1661-1730); Baron d'Holbach's campaign for German (and Swedish) science; Government patronage of science in 18th-century France; The liberties of the Paris Academy of Sciences, 1716-1785; Index.