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Joseph Priestley

Geburtstag: 13. März 1733
Todesdatum: 6. Februar 1804

Joseph Priestley war ein englisch-US-amerikanischer Theologe des Unitarismus, Philosoph, Chemiker und Physiker.

Priestley beschrieb 1771 erstmals die Darstellung und Wirkung des Sauerstoffs und 1772 des Lachgases. Er entdeckte Darstellungsmöglichkeiten für zahlreiche weitere Gase: Stickstoffdioxid, Kohlenstoffmonoxid, Chlorwasserstoff, Ammoniak, Schwefelwasserstoff, Schwefeldioxid, Siliziumtetrafluorid. Wikipedia

Zitate Joseph Priestley

„It is certain that spectacles were well known in the 13th century, and not long before. …It would certainly have been a great satisfaction to us to have been able to trace the actual steps in the progress of this most useful invention, without which most persons who have a taste for reading must have had the melancholy prospect of passing a very dull and joyless old age; and must have been deprived of the pleasure of entertaining themselves by conversing with the absent and the dead, when they were no longer capable of acting their part among the living.“

—  Joseph Priestley

Period I To the Revival of Letters in Erope
The History and Present State of Discoveries Relating to Vision, Light, and Colours (1772)
Kontext: In his Opus Majus he demonstrates, that if a transparent body, interposed between the eye and an object, be convex towards the eye, the object will appear magnified. This observation our author certainly had from Alhazen... this writer [Bacon] gives us figures, representing the progress of rays of light through his spherical segment, as well as endeavours to give reasons why objects are magnified... From the writings of Alhazen and these observations and experiments of Bacon together, it is not improbable that some monks gradually hit upon the construction of spectacles, to which Bacon's lesser segment, not withstanding his mistake concerning it, was a nearer approach than Alhazen's... Whoever they were that pursued the discoveries of Bacon, they probably observed, that a very small convex glass, when held at a greater distance from a book, would magnify the letters more than when it was placed close to them, in which position only Bacon seemed to have used it. In the next place, they might try whether two of these small segments of a sphere placed together, or a glass convex on both sides, would not magnify more than one of them. They would then find, that two of these glasses, one for each eye, would answer the purpose of reading better than one; and lastly they might find, that different degrees of convexity, suited different persons. It is certain that spectacles were well known in the 13th century, and not long before.... It would certainly have been a great satisfaction to us to have been able to trace the actual steps in the progress of this most useful invention, without which most persons who have a taste for reading must have had the melancholy prospect of passing a very dull and joyless old age; and must have been deprived of the pleasure of entertaining themselves by conversing with the absent and the dead, when they were no longer capable of acting their part among the living. Telescopes and microscopes are to be numbered among the superfluities of life when compared to spectacles, which may now be ranked almost among the necessities of it; since the arts of reading and writing are almost universal.

„From the writings of Alhazen and these observations and experiments of Bacon together, it is not improbable that some monks gradually hit upon the construction of spectacles“

—  Joseph Priestley

Period I To the Revival of Letters in Erope
The History and Present State of Discoveries Relating to Vision, Light, and Colours (1772)
Kontext: In his Opus Majus he demonstrates, that if a transparent body, interposed between the eye and an object, be convex towards the eye, the object will appear magnified. This observation our author certainly had from Alhazen... this writer [Bacon] gives us figures, representing the progress of rays of light through his spherical segment, as well as endeavours to give reasons why objects are magnified... From the writings of Alhazen and these observations and experiments of Bacon together, it is not improbable that some monks gradually hit upon the construction of spectacles, to which Bacon's lesser segment, not withstanding his mistake concerning it, was a nearer approach than Alhazen's... Whoever they were that pursued the discoveries of Bacon, they probably observed, that a very small convex glass, when held at a greater distance from a book, would magnify the letters more than when it was placed close to them, in which position only Bacon seemed to have used it. In the next place, they might try whether two of these small segments of a sphere placed together, or a glass convex on both sides, would not magnify more than one of them. They would then find, that two of these glasses, one for each eye, would answer the purpose of reading better than one; and lastly they might find, that different degrees of convexity, suited different persons. It is certain that spectacles were well known in the 13th century, and not long before.... It would certainly have been a great satisfaction to us to have been able to trace the actual steps in the progress of this most useful invention, without which most persons who have a taste for reading must have had the melancholy prospect of passing a very dull and joyless old age; and must have been deprived of the pleasure of entertaining themselves by conversing with the absent and the dead, when they were no longer capable of acting their part among the living. Telescopes and microscopes are to be numbered among the superfluities of life when compared to spectacles, which may now be ranked almost among the necessities of it; since the arts of reading and writing are almost universal.

„The mind of man will never be able to contemplate the being, perfections, and providence of God without meeting with inexplicable difficulties.“

—  Joseph Priestley, buch Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion

Vol. I : Preface (1772)
Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion (1772–1774)
Kontext: The mind of man will never be able to contemplate the being, perfections, and providence of God without meeting with inexplicable difficulties. We may find sufficient reason for acquiescing in the darkness which involves these great subjects, but we must never expect to see them set in a perfectly clear light. But notwithstanding this, we may know enough of the divine being, and of his moral government, to make us much better and happier beings than we could be without such knowledge; and even the consideration of the insuperable difficulties referred to above is not without its use, as it tends to impress the mind with sentiments of reverence, humility, and submission.

„The mind of man can never be wholly barren. Through our whole lives we are subject to successive impressions; for, either new ideas are continually flowing in, or traces of the old ones are marked deeper.“

—  Joseph Priestley, buch Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion

Vol. I : The Dedication (March 1772)
Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion (1772–1774)
Kontext: The mind of man can never be wholly barren. Through our whole lives we are subject to successive impressions; for, either new ideas are continually flowing in, or traces of the old ones are marked deeper. If, therefore, you be not acquiring good principles be assured that you are acquiring bad ones; if you be not forming virtuous habits you are, how insensibly soever to yourselves, forming vicious ones…

„The History of Electricity is a field full of pleasing objects, according to all the genuine and universal principles of taste, deduced from a knowledge of human nature.“

—  Joseph Priestley, buch The History and Present State of Electricity

Preface
The History and Present State of Electricity (1767)
Kontext: The History of Electricity is a field full of pleasing objects, according to all the genuine and universal principles of taste, deduced from a knowledge of human nature. Scenes like these, in which we see a gradual rise and progress in things, always exhibit a pleasing spectacle to the human mind. Nature, in all her delightful walks, abounds with such views, and they are in a more especial manner connected with every thing that relates to human life and happiness; things, in their own nature, the most interesting to us. Hence it is, that the power of association has annexed crowds of pleasing sensations to the contemplation of every object, in which this property is apparent.
This pleasure, likewise, bears a considerable resemblance to that of the sublime, which is one of the most exquisite of all those that affect the human imagination. For an object in which we see a perpetual progress and improvement is, as it were, continually rising in its magnitude; and moreover, when we see an actual increase, in a long period of time past, we cannot help forming an idea of an unlimited increase in futurity; which is a prospect really boundless, and sublime.

„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.“

—  Joseph Priestley, buch Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion

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)
Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion (1772–1774)
Kontext: 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.

„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.“

—  Joseph Priestley, buch The History and Present State of Electricity

Preface
The History and Present State of Electricity (1767)
Kontext: 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.

„That miracles are things in themselves possible, must be allowed so long as it is evident that there is in nature a power equal to the working of them. And certainly the power, principle, or being, by whatever name it be denominated, which produced the universe, and established the laws of it, is fully equal to any occasional departures from them.“

—  Joseph Priestley, buch An History of the Corruptions of Christianity

General Conclusions, Part I : Containing Considerations addressed to Unbelievers and especially to Mr. Gibbon
An History of the Corruptions of Christianity (1782)
Kontext: That miracles are things in themselves possible, must be allowed so long as it is evident that there is in nature a power equal to the working of them. And certainly the power, principle, or being, by whatever name it be denominated, which produced the universe, and established the laws of it, is fully equal to any occasional departures from them. The object and use of those miracles on which the christian religion is founded, is also maintained to be consonant to the object and use of the general system of nature, viz. the production of happiness. We have nothing, therefore to do, but to examine, by the known rules of estimating the value of testimony whether there be reason to think that such miracles have been wrought, or whether the evidence of Christianity, or of the christian history, does not stand upon as good ground as that of any other history whatever.

„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

Memoirs of the Rev. Dr. Joseph Priestly (1809). p. 1
Kontext: 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.

„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, buch The History and Present State of Electricity

Preface
The History and Present State of Electricity (1767)
Kontext: 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.

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„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, buch Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion

Vol. I : The Dedication (March 1772)
Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion (1772–1774)
Kontext: 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.

„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, buch Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion

Vol. I : The Dedication (March 1772)
Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion (1772–1774)
Kontext: 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.

„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, buch An History of the Corruptions of Christianity

Part I : The History of Opinions Relating to Jesus Christ,
An History of the Corruptions of Christianity (1782)
Kontext: 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.

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

—  Joseph Priestley

Period I To the Revival of Letters in Erope
The History and Present State of Discoveries Relating to Vision, Light, and Colours (1772)
Kontext: 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.

„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, buch The History and Present State of Electricity

Preface
The History and Present State of Electricity (1767)
Kontext: 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.

„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, buch The History and Present State of Electricity

Preface
The History and Present State of Electricity (1767)
Kontext: 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.

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

—  Joseph Priestley, buch An History of the Corruptions of Christianity

Part I : The History of Opinions Relating to Jesus Christ, Introduction
An History of the Corruptions of Christianity (1782)
Kontext: 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."

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

—  Joseph Priestley

Period I To the Revival of Letters in Erope
The History and Present State of Discoveries Relating to Vision, Light, and Colours (1772)
Kontext: 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.

„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, buch Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion

Vol. I : The Dedication (March 1772)
Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion (1772–1774)
Kontext: 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.

„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, buch An History of the Corruptions of Christianity

Part I : The History of Opinions Relating to Jesus Christ, § III : The Supremacy was always ascribed to the Father before the Council Of Nice
An History of the Corruptions of Christianity (1782)
Kontext: 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.'"

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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