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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index L > Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier Quotes > Principle

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Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier
(26 Aug 1743 - 8 May 1794)

French chemist.


Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier Quotes on Principle (6 quotes)

>> Click for 21 Science Quotes by Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier

>> Click for Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier Quotes on | Chemistry | Experiment | Fact |

All that can be said upon the number and nature of elements is, in my opinion, confined to discussions entirely of a metaphysical nature. The subject only furnishes us with indefinite problems, which may be solved in a thousand different ways, not one of which, in all probability, is consistent with nature. I shall therefore only add upon this subject, that if, by the term elements, we mean to express those simple and indivisible atoms of which matter is composed, it is extremely probable we know nothing at all about them; but, if we apply the term elements, or principles of bodies, to express our idea of the last point which analysis is capable of reaching, we must admit, as elements, all the substances into which we are capable, by any means, to reduce bodies by decomposition.
— Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier
Elements of Chemistry (1790), trans. R. Kerr, Preface, xxiv.
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Chemistry affords two general methods of determining the constituent principles of bodies, the method of analysis, and that of synthesis. When, for instance, by combining water with alkohol, we form the species of liquor called, in commercial language, brandy or spirit of wine, we certainly have a right to conclude, that brandy, or spirit of wine, is composed of alkohol combined with water. We can produce the same result by the analytical method; and in general it ought to be considered as a principle in chemical science, never to rest satisfied without both these species of proofs. We have this advantage in the analysis of atmospherical air, being able both to decompound it, and to form it a new in the most satisfactory manner.
— Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier
Elements of Chemistry (1790), trans. R. Kerr, 33.
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Chemists have made of phlogiston a vague principle which is not at all rigorously defined, and which, in consequence, adapts itself to all explanations in which it is wished it shall enter; sometimes it is free fire, sometimes it is fire combined with the earthy element; sometimes it passes through the pores of vessels, sometimes they are impenetrable to it; it explains both the causticity and non-causticity, transparency and opacity, colours and absence of colours. It is a veritable Proteus which changes its form every instant. It is time to conduct chemistry to a more rigorous mode of reasoning ... to distinguish fact and observation from what is systematic and hypothetical.
— Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier
'Réflexions sur le phlogistique', Mémoires de l'Académie des Sciences, 1783, 505-38. Reprinted in Oeuvres de Lavoisier (1864), Vol. 2, 640, trans. M. P. Crosland.
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If everything in chemistry is explained in a satisfactory manner without the help of phlogiston, it is by that reason alone infinitely probable that the principle does not exist; that it is a hypothetical body, a gratuitous supposition; indeed, it is in the principles of good logic, not to multiply bodies without necessity.
— Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier
'Reflexions sur le phlogistique', Mιmoires de l'Acadιmie des Sciences, 1783, 505-38. Reprinted in Oeuvres de Lavoisier (1864), Vol. 2, 623, trans. M. P. Crosland.
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The whole art of making experiments in chemistry is founded on the principle: we must always suppose an exact equality or equation between the principles of the body examined and those of the products of its analysis.
— Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier
From Traitι Ιlιmentaire de Chimie (1789), 140. Translation as given in James Riddick Partington, A Short History of Chemistry (1960), 124. This is an alternate translation of part of the same passage on this page that begins “We may lay it down as an incontestible axiom…”
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We may lay it down as an incontestible axiom, that, in all the operations of art and nature, nothing is created; an equal quantity of matter exists both before and after the experiment; the quality and quantity of the elements remain precisely the same; and nothing takes place beyond changes and modifications in the combination of these elements. Upon this principle the whole art of performing chemical experiments depends: We must always suppose an exact equality between the elements of the body examined and those of the products of its analysis.
— Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier
Elements of Chemistry trans. Robert. Kerr, (1790, 5th Ed. 1802), Vol. 1, 226.
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See also:
  • 26 Aug - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Lavoisier's birth.
  • Torch and Crucible: The Life and Death of Antoine Lavoisier, by Sidney J. French. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Antoine Lavoisier.

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