Friesen and Patton (2023)

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Friesen, Izzy and Patton, Paul. (2023) Discipline Dynamics of Chymistry and Rejection of Alchemy. Scientonomy 5, 93-110. Retrieved from

Title Discipline Dynamics of Chymistry and Rejection of Alchemy
Resource Type journal article
Author(s) Paul Patton, Izzy Friesen
Year 2023
Journal Scientonomy
Volume 5
Pages 93-110


This paper applies Patton and Al-Zayadi’s scientonomic framework for understanding disciplines to a case study of the development of the chemical discipline ("chymistry") from the 17th century through the early 18th century in Western Europe. Using evidence from the tradition of textbook publication that emerged in the seventeenth-century chymistry, we reconstruct the top-level of the question hierarchy of chymistry. Analyzing how these questions and their associated theories were received, we first show how, starting in the 1660s, alchemy transitioned from a synonym of chymistry to chymistry’s subdiscipline with a more limited scope. We identify that the rejection of alchemy's core questions occurred in the 1720s based on the reception of these questions in scientific publications and by academic institutions. Hence, we conclude that the subdiscipline of alchemy became rejected in the 1720s. In order to conduct our case-study, we closely follow Newman and Principe's research on early modern alchemy and chymistry in our reconstruction of the episode. However, using the scientonomic framework in analyzing this case study reveals the specific dynamics of this instance of sub-discipline rejection. Our deepened understanding of this hallmark historical episode of disciplinary rejection indicates the value of Patton and Al-Zayadi’s theoretical framework for observational scientonomic research.

Suggested Modifications

Here are all the modifications suggested in Friesen and Patton (2023):

  • Sciento-2023-0008: Accept the findings concerning the discipline dynamics of alchemy and its core questions in the Western European chymistry community. The modification was suggested to Scientonomy community by Paul Patton and Izzy Friesen on 31 December 2023.1 The modification is currently being evaluated; a verdict is pending.