During the first decades of the 18th century the Theories of the Earth formulated by the English scholars Thomas Burnet, William Whiston and John Woodward at the end of the 17th century circulated widely within the continent of Europe. These theories established a sequence of physical states of the Earth according to the chronology outlined in the Book of Genesis, which emphasized two main stages: the Creation and the Deluge. Although the authority of the Biblical account on the age and early history of the Earth was normally accepted at the beginning of the 18th century, the continental reception of the English Theories of the Earth varied. This was due to the complexity of the European context which had produced since the 1660s the theories of René Descartes, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Athanasius Kircher, as well as Nicolaus Steno's dynamic view on the development of the Earth's surface. Steno emphasized the importance of the interpretation of rock strata in the field for the reconstruction of the History of the Earth. On the other hand he had also carefully avoided to supersede the Biblical account and had associated the Deluge to one of the geological stages identified in his history. Nevertheless, the Stenonian heritage stimulated some Italian scientists - such as Antonio Vallisneri, Luigi Ferdinando Marsili and later Giovanni Targioni Tozzetti and Giovanni Arduino - to carefully suppose, within the results of their researches, a great indefinite antiquity of the Earth. Theoretical models linked to the Biblical chronology were those, for example, of Emanuel Swedenborg in Sweden and Johann Jakob Scheuchzer in Switzerland, while in France, Benoît De Maillet proposed a Theory of the Earth which was censured by the Church because of its possible implications on the eternity of matter. Among the European scholars of the first decades of the 18th century, the Stenonian heritage (the necessity of fieldwork in a regional context) and the global Theories of the Earth were equally influential. The aim of this paper is to provide an outline of some different views on the age of the Earth during a phase of transition in geological scholarship, from a stage dominated by theoretical models to a period gradually more based on field research.

European Views on Terrestrial Chronology from Descartes to the mid-18th century

VACCARI, EZIO
2001

Abstract

During the first decades of the 18th century the Theories of the Earth formulated by the English scholars Thomas Burnet, William Whiston and John Woodward at the end of the 17th century circulated widely within the continent of Europe. These theories established a sequence of physical states of the Earth according to the chronology outlined in the Book of Genesis, which emphasized two main stages: the Creation and the Deluge. Although the authority of the Biblical account on the age and early history of the Earth was normally accepted at the beginning of the 18th century, the continental reception of the English Theories of the Earth varied. This was due to the complexity of the European context which had produced since the 1660s the theories of René Descartes, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Athanasius Kircher, as well as Nicolaus Steno's dynamic view on the development of the Earth's surface. Steno emphasized the importance of the interpretation of rock strata in the field for the reconstruction of the History of the Earth. On the other hand he had also carefully avoided to supersede the Biblical account and had associated the Deluge to one of the geological stages identified in his history. Nevertheless, the Stenonian heritage stimulated some Italian scientists - such as Antonio Vallisneri, Luigi Ferdinando Marsili and later Giovanni Targioni Tozzetti and Giovanni Arduino - to carefully suppose, within the results of their researches, a great indefinite antiquity of the Earth. Theoretical models linked to the Biblical chronology were those, for example, of Emanuel Swedenborg in Sweden and Johann Jakob Scheuchzer in Switzerland, while in France, Benoît De Maillet proposed a Theory of the Earth which was censured by the Church because of its possible implications on the eternity of matter. Among the European scholars of the first decades of the 18th century, the Stenonian heritage (the necessity of fieldwork in a regional context) and the global Theories of the Earth were equally influential. The aim of this paper is to provide an outline of some different views on the age of the Earth during a phase of transition in geological scholarship, from a stage dominated by theoretical models to a period gradually more based on field research.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11383/3268
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