Joseph Priestley cytaty

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Joseph Priestley

Data urodzenia: 13. Marzec 1733
Data zgonu: 6. Luty 1804

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Joseph Priestley – angielski chemik, filozof, duchowny i pedagog.

Odkrył tlen, amoniak, tlenek węgla, chlorowodór, kwas siarkowy, tlenek siarki, tlenek azotu, uzyskał wodę sodową, podtlenek azotu.

Założył w Ameryce pierwszy kościół unitariański.

Joseph Priestley urodził się w 1733 roku w Fieldhead w pobliżu Leeds, w wielodzietnej rodzinie tkacza. Chciał zostać pastorem. Dość wcześnie w szkole nauczył się greki i łaciny oraz hebrajskiego. Potem zachorował na gruźlicę i wydawało się, że musi zrezygnować z kariery duchownego. Jednak wyzdrowiał, a podczas długiej rekonwalescencji nauczył się samodzielnie francuskiego, włoskiego, niemieckiego oraz chaldejskiego, syryjskiego i arabskiego.

Priestley był od młodości liberałem i nie cierpiał wszelkich dogmatów i despotyzmu. Zdecydował się więc na studia w jednej z uczelni tzw. independentów , odrzucających surowe zasady protestantyzmu angielskiego. Potem rozpoczął pracę jako pastor we wspólnotach tego odłamu religijnego. Niestety, jąkał się i ta wada wymowy utrudniała mu kaznodziejstwo. Z powodzeniem jednak nauczał języków, a także historii i literatury.

Pastor Priestley zainteresował się badaniami naukowymi dopiero w wieku dojrzałym. Pewnego razu w Londynie spotkał Benjamina Franklina, wówczas już sławnego uczonego. Właśnie Franklin zasugerował mu opracowanie historii elektryczności, co z powodzeniem wykonał, dodając opisy swych oryginalnych eksperymentów i przemyśleń. Wydanie w 1766 roku dzieła The History and Present State of Electricity przyczyniło się do wyboru Priestleya na członka Royal Society.

Pewnego wiosennego dnia 1772 roku Priestley jadł w Londynie obiad u Hugh Smithsona, księcia Northumberland. Arystokrata pochwalił się butelką wody destylowanej, uzyskanej w przenośnym aparacie pomysłu Charlesa Irvinga. Zdaniem ówczesnego kierownictwa admiralicji, tak otrzymaną czystą wodę można było bardzo długo przechowywać, co miało rozwiązać problem zapasów wody pitnej na statkach wypływających w długie rejsy. Smakując tę wodę, Priestley stwierdził, że jest wprawdzie czysta, lecz niesmaczna. Wtedy właśnie przypomniał sobie obserwacje sprzed paru lat, gdy w browarze blisko swego domu w Leeds zauważył, że woda w naczyniu umieszczonym tuż nad powierzchnią fermentującej brzeczki szybko nabierała przyjemnego smaku i zbliżała się smakiem do musującej wody mineralnej. Wiedziano już wtedy, że podczas fermentacji powstaje „ustalone powietrze” – jak nazywano dwutlenek węgla. Poznano też inne metody produkcji tego osobliwego „powietrza”.

Wróciwszy do domu Priestley przygotował aparat do szybkiego nasycania wody destylowanej „ustalonym powietrzem” i wkrótce mógł zaprezentować swój produkt w Londynie Pierwszemu Lordowi Admiralicji. Degustacja wypadła tak pomyślnie, że wydano polecenie zainstalowania odpowiedniej aparatury na statkach floty Jego Królewskiej Mości. Trzeba dodać, że wówczas uważano, iż musująca woda mineralna jest dobrym lekarstwem na szkorbut. W dowód uznania za swoje osiągnięcie w 1772 roku Priestley otrzymał od Royal Society prestiżowy Medal Copleya.

Z obecnego punktu widzenia największym odkryciem Priestleya było odkrycie tlenu w 1774 roku . Uczony ogrzewał w zamkniętym naczyniu czerwony tlenek rtęci. Podczas doświadczenia wydzielił się gaz, który początkowo wziął za zwykłe powietrze. Z ogromnym zdziwieniem stwierdził, że w tym „powietrzu” świeca płonęła niezwykle jaskrawo, a mysz żyła dłużej niż w takiej samej objętości zwykłego powietrza. Zachęcony, spróbował sam oddychać nowym rodzajem „powietrza”.

Nie odczuwałem w płucach niczego znacząco odmiennego od oddychania zwykłym powietrzem, ale jeszcze przez pewien czas potem zdawało mi się, że jestem szczególnie swobodny i odświeżony. Kto wie, może za jakiś czas to czyste powietrze stanie się modnym przedmiotem zbytku. Przywilej oddychania nim miały dotychczas tylko dwie myszy i ja.[potrzebny przypis]

W 1780 roku Priestley przeniósł się do Birmingham. Tam kontynuował badania i przyłączył się do Lunar Society, stowarzyszenia ludzi, którzy spotykali się na wieczornym obiedzie raz w miesiącu, przy pełni Księżyca, aby dyskutować o nauce i potem wracać w świetle księżyca do domu.

Po wybuchu rewolucji francuskiej Priestley nie ukrywał zadowolenia i poparcia dla nowego ustroju, który zastąpił absolutyzm. W 1791 roku postanowił uczcić Dzień Bastylii wspólnym obiadem z grupą bliskich przyjaciół. Tymczasem już parę dni przed zapowiadanym spotkaniem grupa bigotów, podburzona przez duchownych z Birmingham, zaczęła rozprowadzać ulotki oskarżające Priestleya i przyjaciół o zdradę i grożące zaprowadzeniem ich na szubienicę. Nie bacząc na te wybryki, postanowiono spotkać się, w czym udział wzięło około osiemdziesięciu osób. Nie doszło do żadnych incydentów, jednak wieczorem zebrał się tłum pijanych awanturników, którzy spalili najpierw budynek, w którym Priestley wygłaszał kazania dla independentów, a potem puścili z dymem dom uczonego wraz ze znajdującymi się tam laboratorium, bogatym księgozbiorem i bezcennymi, nie opublikowanymi jeszcze wynikami badań.

Na szczęście Priestley z rodziną został w porę ostrzeżony i schronił się w odległym o milę domu przyjaciół, skąd mógł z bezsilną złością patrzeć, jak ginie dorobek jego życia. Okazało się szybko, że musi uciekać dalej, bo rozczarowany tłum, nie zastawszy go w domu, rozpoczął poszukiwania. Priestley zatrzymał się dopiero w Londynie. Tam wprawdzie wyrażano mu współczucie, ale wielu przyjaciół odsunęło się od niego ze względów politycznych lub religijnych. Najbardziej bolało Priestleya, że stronił od niego wybitny uczony Henry Cavendish, z którym wcześniej bardzo się przyjaźnił. Rozgoryczony, wystąpił z Royal Society i postanowił wyemigrować do Stanów Zjednoczonych. Tam też spędził ostatnie dziesięć lat życia i zmarł w 1804 roku.

Cytaty Joseph Priestley

„Kto wie, może po pewnym czasie to czyste powietrze stanie się modnym przedmiotem zbytku. Dotychczas rozkoszowały się nim tylko dwie myszy i ja.“

— Joseph Priestley
Źródło: Jan Kulawik, Teresa Kulawik, Maria Litwin, Chemia Nowej Ery. Podręcznik dla gimnazjum, wyd. Nowa Era, Warszawa, 2011, s. 41.

„For want of clearer knowledge of this subject, we are obliged to content ourselves with terms that convey only negative ideas, and to say that God is a being untreated or uncaused; and this is all that we mean when we sometimes say that he is self existent.“

— Joseph Priestley
Context: It may, perhaps, be true, though we cannot distinctly see it to be so, that as all finite things require a cause, infinites admit of none. It is evident, that nothing can begin to be without a cause; but it by no means follows from thence, that that must have had a cause which had no beginning. But whatever there may be in this conjecture, we are constrained, in pursuing the train of causes and effects, to stop at last at something uncaused. That any being should be self created is evidently absurd, because that would suppose that he had a being before he had, or that he existed, and did not exist at the same time. For want of clearer knowledge of this subject, we are obliged to content ourselves with terms that convey only negative ideas, and to say that God is a being untreated or uncaused; and this is all that we mean when we sometimes say that he is self existent. Vol. I : Part I : The Being and Attributes of God, § 1 : Of the existence of God, and those attributes which art deduced from his being considered as uncaused himself, and the cause of every thing else (1772)

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„He also compares his being raised upon the cross to the elevation of the serpent in the wilderness, and to seed buried in the ground, as necessary to its future increase. But all these representations are quite foreign to anything in the doctrine of atonement.“

— Joseph Priestley
Context: Whenever our Lord speaks of the object of his mission and death, as he often does, it is either in a more general way, as for the salvation of the world, to do the will of God, to fulfil the scripture prophecies … or more particularly, to give the fullest proof of his mission by his resurrection from the dead, and an assurance of a similar resurrection of all his followers. He also compares his being raised upon the cross to the elevation of the serpent in the wilderness, and to seed buried in the ground, as necessary to its future increase. But all these representations are quite foreign to anything in the doctrine of atonement. Part II : Opinions Relating to the Doctrine of Atonement, § I : That Christ did not die to make satisfaction for the sins of men.

„As the greatest things often take their rise from the smallest beginnings, so the worst things sometimes proceed from good intentions.“

— Joseph Priestley
Context: As the greatest things often take their rise from the smallest beginnings, so the worst things sometimes proceed from good intentions. This was certainly the case with respect to the origin of Christian Idolatry. All the early heresies arose from men who wished well to the gospel, and who meant to recommend it to the Heathens, and especially to philosophers among them, whose prejudices they found great difficulty in conquering. Now we learn from the writings of the apostles themselves, as well as from the testimony of later writers, that the circumstance at which mankind in general, and especially the more philosophical part of them, stumbled the most, was the doctrine of a crucified Saviour. They could not submit to become the disciples of a man who had been exposed upon a cross, like the vilest malefactor. Of this objection to Christianity we find traces in all the early writers, who wrote in defence of the gospel against the unbelievers of their age, to the time of Lactantius; and probably it may be found much later. He says, "I know that many fly from the truth out of their abhorrence of the cross." We, who only learn from history that crucifixion was a kind of death to which slaves and the vilest of malefactors were exposed, can but very imperfectly enter into their prejudices, so as to feel what they must have done with respect to it. … Though this circumstance was "unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness," it was to others "the power of God and the wisdom of God." 1 Cor. i. 23, 24. For this circumstance at which they cavilled, was that in which the wisdom of God was most conspicuous; the death and resurrection of a man, in all respects like themselves, being better calculated to give other men an assurance of their own resurrection, than that of any super-angelic being, the laws of whose nature they might think to be very different from those of their own. But, "since by man came death, so by man came also the resurrection of the dead." Later Christians, however, and especially those who were themselves attached to the principles of either the Oriental or the Greek philosophy, unhappily took another method of removing this obstacle; and instead of explaining the wisdom of the divine dispensations in the appointment of a man, a person in all respects like unto his brethren, for the redemption of men, and of his dying in the most public and indisputable manner, as a foundation for the clearest proof of a real resurrection, and also of a painful and ignominious death, as an example to his followers who might be exposed to the same … they began to raise the dignity of the person of Christ, that it might appear less disgraceful to be ranked amongst his disciples. Part I : The History of Opinions Relating to Jesus Christ,

„Most of the early Christian writers thought the text "I and my Father are one," was to be understood of an unity or harmony of disposition only.“

— Joseph Priestley
Context: Most of the early Christian writers thought the text "I and my Father are one," was to be understood of an unity or harmony of disposition only. Thus Tertullian observes, that the expression is unum, one thing, not one person; and he explains it to mean unity, likeness, conjunction, and of the love that the Father bore to the Son. Origen says, "let him consider that text, 'all that believed were of one heart and of one soul,' and then he will understand this, 'I and my Father are one.'" Part I : The History of Opinions Relating to Jesus Christ, § III : The Supremacy was always ascribed to the Father before the Council Of Nice

„Respect a parliamentary king, and chearfully pay all parliamentary taxes; but have nothing to do with a parliamentary religion, or a parliamentary God.
Religious rights, and religious liberty, are things of inestimable value.“

— Joseph Priestley
Context: Respect a parliamentary king, and chearfully pay all parliamentary taxes; but have nothing to do with a parliamentary religion, or a parliamentary God. Religious rights, and religious liberty, are things of inestimable value. For these have many of our ancestors suffered and died; and shall we, in the sunshine of prosperity, desert that glorious cause, from which no storms of adversity or persecution could make them swerve? Let us consider if as a duty of the first rank with respect to moral obligation, to transmit to our posterity, and provide, as far as we can, for transmitting, unimpaired, to the latest generations, that generous zeal for religion and liberty, which makes the memory of our forefathers so truly illustrious. Vol. I : The Dedication (March 1772)

„Great as Bacon was, he was far from being free from the mistakes and prejudices of those who went before him.“

— Joseph Priestley
Context: Great as Bacon was, he was far from being free from the mistakes and prejudices of those who went before him. Even some of the most wild and absurd opinions of the antients have the sanction of his approbation and authority. He does not hesitate to assent to an opinion... that visual rays proceed from the eye; giving this reason for it, that every thing in nature is qualified to discharge its proper functions by its own powers, in the same manner as the sun, and other celestial bodies. He acknowledges, however, that the presence of light, as well as several other circumstances, is necessary to vision. Period I To the Revival of Letters in Erope

„The unity of God is a doctrine on which the greatest stress is laid in the whole system of revelation.“

— Joseph Priestley
Context: The unity of God is a doctrine on which the greatest stress is laid in the whole system of revelation. To guard this most important article was the principal object of the Jewish religion; and, notwithstanding the proneness of the Jews to idolatry, at length it fully answered its purpose in reclaiming them, and in impressing the minds of many persons of other nations in favour of the same fundamental truth. The Jews were taught by their prophets to expect a Messiah, who was to be descended from the tribe of Judah, and the family of David, — a person in whom themselves and all the nations of the earth should be blessed; but none of their prophets gave them an idea of any other than a man like themselves in that illustrious character, and no other did they ever expect, or do they expect to this day. Jesus Christ, whose history answers to the description given of the Messiah by the prophets, made no other pretensions; referring all his extraordinary power to God, his Father, who, he expressly says, spake and acted by him, and who raised him from the dead: and it is most evident that the apostles, and all those who conversed with our Lord before and after his resurrection, considered him in no other light than simply as "a man approved of God, by wonders and signs which God did by him." Part I : The History of Opinions Relating to Jesus Christ, Introduction

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„It is here that we see the human understanding to its greatest advantage, grasping at the noblest objects, and increasing its own powers, by acquiring to itself the powers of nature, and directing them to the accomplishment of its own views; whereby the security, and happiness of mankind are daily improved.“

— Joseph Priestley
Context: The history of philosophy enjoys, in some measure, the advantages both of civil and natural history, whereby it is relieved from what is most tedious and disgusting in both. Philosophy exhibits the powers of nature, discovered and directed by human art. It has, therefore, in some measure, the boundless variety with the amazing uniformity of the one, and likewise every thing that is pleasing and interesting in the other. And the idea of continual rise and improvement is conspicuous in the whole study, whether we be attentive to the part which nature, or that which men are acting in the great scene. It is here that we see the human understanding to its greatest advantage, grasping at the noblest objects, and increasing its own powers, by acquiring to itself the powers of nature, and directing them to the accomplishment of its own views; whereby the security, and happiness of mankind are daily improved. Human abilities are chiefly conspicuous in adapting means to ends, and in deducing one thing from another by the method of analogy; and where may we find instances of greater sagacity, than in philosophers diversifying the situations of things, in order to give them an opportunity of showing their mutual relations, affections, and influences; deducing one truth and one discovery from another, and applying them all to the useful purposes of human life. If the exertion of human abilities, which cannot but form a delightful spectacle for the human imagination, give us pleasure, we enjoy it here in a higher degree than while we are contemplating the schemes of warriors, and the stratagems of their bloody art. Preface

„If the exertion of human abilities, which cannot but form a delightful spectacle for the human imagination, give us pleasure, we enjoy it here in a higher degree than while we are contemplating the schemes of warriors, and the stratagems of their bloody art.“

— Joseph Priestley
Context: The history of philosophy enjoys, in some measure, the advantages both of civil and natural history, whereby it is relieved from what is most tedious and disgusting in both. Philosophy exhibits the powers of nature, discovered and directed by human art. It has, therefore, in some measure, the boundless variety with the amazing uniformity of the one, and likewise every thing that is pleasing and interesting in the other. And the idea of continual rise and improvement is conspicuous in the whole study, whether we be attentive to the part which nature, or that which men are acting in the great scene. It is here that we see the human understanding to its greatest advantage, grasping at the noblest objects, and increasing its own powers, by acquiring to itself the powers of nature, and directing them to the accomplishment of its own views; whereby the security, and happiness of mankind are daily improved. Human abilities are chiefly conspicuous in adapting means to ends, and in deducing one thing from another by the method of analogy; and where may we find instances of greater sagacity, than in philosophers diversifying the situations of things, in order to give them an opportunity of showing their mutual relations, affections, and influences; deducing one truth and one discovery from another, and applying them all to the useful purposes of human life. If the exertion of human abilities, which cannot but form a delightful spectacle for the human imagination, give us pleasure, we enjoy it here in a higher degree than while we are contemplating the schemes of warriors, and the stratagems of their bloody art. Preface

„He does not hesitate to assent to an opinion... that visual rays proceed from the eye“

— Joseph Priestley
Context: Great as Bacon was, he was far from being free from the mistakes and prejudices of those who went before him. Even some of the most wild and absurd opinions of the antients have the sanction of his approbation and authority. He does not hesitate to assent to an opinion... that visual rays proceed from the eye; giving this reason for it, that every thing in nature is qualified to discharge its proper functions by its own powers, in the same manner as the sun, and other celestial bodies. He acknowledges, however, that the presence of light, as well as several other circumstances, is necessary to vision. Period I To the Revival of Letters in Erope

„We, who only learn from history that crucifixion was a kind of death to which slaves and the vilest of malefactors were exposed, can but very imperfectly enter into their prejudices, so as to feel what they must have done with respect to it.“

— Joseph Priestley
Context: As the greatest things often take their rise from the smallest beginnings, so the worst things sometimes proceed from good intentions. This was certainly the case with respect to the origin of Christian Idolatry. All the early heresies arose from men who wished well to the gospel, and who meant to recommend it to the Heathens, and especially to philosophers among them, whose prejudices they found great difficulty in conquering. Now we learn from the writings of the apostles themselves, as well as from the testimony of later writers, that the circumstance at which mankind in general, and especially the more philosophical part of them, stumbled the most, was the doctrine of a crucified Saviour. They could not submit to become the disciples of a man who had been exposed upon a cross, like the vilest malefactor. Of this objection to Christianity we find traces in all the early writers, who wrote in defence of the gospel against the unbelievers of their age, to the time of Lactantius; and probably it may be found much later. He says, "I know that many fly from the truth out of their abhorrence of the cross." We, who only learn from history that crucifixion was a kind of death to which slaves and the vilest of malefactors were exposed, can but very imperfectly enter into their prejudices, so as to feel what they must have done with respect to it. … Though this circumstance was "unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness," it was to others "the power of God and the wisdom of God." 1 Cor. i. 23, 24. For this circumstance at which they cavilled, was that in which the wisdom of God was most conspicuous; the death and resurrection of a man, in all respects like themselves, being better calculated to give other men an assurance of their own resurrection, than that of any super-angelic being, the laws of whose nature they might think to be very different from those of their own. But, "since by man came death, so by man came also the resurrection of the dead." Later Christians, however, and especially those who were themselves attached to the principles of either the Oriental or the Greek philosophy, unhappily took another method of removing this obstacle; and instead of explaining the wisdom of the divine dispensations in the appointment of a man, a person in all respects like unto his brethren, for the redemption of men, and of his dying in the most public and indisputable manner, as a foundation for the clearest proof of a real resurrection, and also of a painful and ignominious death, as an example to his followers who might be exposed to the same … they began to raise the dignity of the person of Christ, that it might appear less disgraceful to be ranked amongst his disciples. Part I : The History of Opinions Relating to Jesus Christ,

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„Let us consider if as a duty of the first rank with respect to moral obligation, to transmit to our posterity, and provide, as far as we can, for transmitting, unimpaired, to the latest generations, that generous zeal for religion and liberty, which makes the memory of our forefathers so truly illustrious.“

— Joseph Priestley
Context: Respect a parliamentary king, and chearfully pay all parliamentary taxes; but have nothing to do with a parliamentary religion, or a parliamentary God. Religious rights, and religious liberty, are things of inestimable value. For these have many of our ancestors suffered and died; and shall we, in the sunshine of prosperity, desert that glorious cause, from which no storms of adversity or persecution could make them swerve? Let us consider if as a duty of the first rank with respect to moral obligation, to transmit to our posterity, and provide, as far as we can, for transmitting, unimpaired, to the latest generations, that generous zeal for religion and liberty, which makes the memory of our forefathers so truly illustrious. Vol. I : The Dedication (March 1772)

„It is the earnest wish of my heart, that your minds may be well established in the sound principles of religious knowledge, because I am fully persuaded, that nothing else can be a sufficient foundation of a virtuous and truly respectable conduct in life, or of good hope in death.“

— Joseph Priestley
Context: It is the earnest wish of my heart, that your minds may be well established in the sound principles of religious knowledge, because I am fully persuaded, that nothing else can be a sufficient foundation of a virtuous and truly respectable conduct in life, or of good hope in death. A mind destitute of knowledge (and, comparatively speaking, no kind of knowledge, besides that of religion, deserves the name) is like a field on which no culture has been bestowed, which, the richer it is, the ranker weeds it will produce, If nothing good be sown in it, it will be dccupied by plants that are useless or noxious. Vol. I : The Dedication (March 1772)

„Whereas the whole business of philosophy, diversified as it is, is but one; it being one and the same great scheme, that all philosophers, of all ages and nations, have been conducting, from the beginning of the world“

— Joseph Priestley
Context: Great conquerors, we read, have been both animated, and also, in a great measure, formed by reading the exploits of former conquerors. Why may not the same effect be expected from the history of philosophy to philosophers? May not even more be expected in this case? The wars of many of those conquerors, who received this advantage from history, had no proper connection with former wars: they were only analogous to them. Whereas the whole business of philosophy, diversified as it is, is but one; it being one and the same great scheme, that all philosophers, of all ages and nations, have been conducting, from the beginning of the world; so that the work being the same, the. labours of one are not only analogous to those of of another, but in an immediate manner subservient to them; and one philosopher succeeds another in the same field; as one Roman proconsul succeeded another in carrying on the same war, and pursuing the same conquests, in the same country. In this case, an intimate knowledge of what has been done before us cannot but greatly facilitate our future progress, if it be not absolutely necessary to it. Preface

„I hope that this account of myself will not be without its use to those who may come after me, and especially in promoting virtue and piety, which, I hope I may say, it has been my care to practise myself, as it has been my business to inculcate them upon others.“

— Joseph Priestley
Context: Having thought it right to leave behind me some account of my friends and benefactors, it is in a manner necessary that I also give some account of myself; and as the like has been done by many persons, and for reasons which posterity has approved, I make no further apology for following their example. If my writings in general have been useful to my contemporaries, I hope that this account of myself will not be without its use to those who may come after me, and especially in promoting virtue and piety, which, I hope I may say, it has been my care to practise myself, as it has been my business to inculcate them upon others. Memoirs of the Rev. Dr. Joseph Priestly (1809). p. 1

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