Conclusion [chapter]

2019 Lavoisier—the Crucial Year  
Conclusion LET me review briefly the argument that has been set before the reader in the course of this study. My purpose was to discover, if possible, how Lavoisier came to per form the famous experiments on the combustion of phos phorus and sulphur and the reduction of lead oxide which mark the beginning of his great creative period of chemi cal investigation. To this end I have examined with par ticular care the thinly documented period of Lavoisier's life just before he set down his three
more » ... tes on combustion in the fall of 1772. I have considered, and I believe dis posed of, some earlier conjectures (of Meldrum and others) about the origin of the experiments Lavoisier described in those notes. I have tried to re-create the state of chemical knowledge in the France of 1771-1772 insofar as it had a bearing on Lavoisier' s work and have sought the influ ences which could have changed, and I believe did change, the direction of his thought; and I have tried to identify the accepted beliefs and prejudices which pre vented others from thinking as he came to think. Before 1772, indeed before the summer of that year, Lavoisier displayed no interest in the problem of com bustion, in the calcination of metals, or in the chemistry of phosphorus. Nor had he given any thought to the pos-
doi:10.7591/9781501746642-010 fatcat:547232cfkndena62xk7l5yxapi