Chemia Śniadeckiego

Halina Lichocka


The chemistry of Jędrzej Śniadecki

In Poland, Jędrzej Śniadecki was a continuator and one of the promoters of the French school of chemistry, initiated by the works of Antoine Lavoisier. Śniadecki came into contact with the foundations of this school, which included a new definition of the chemical elements, the principle of mass conservation and the oxygen theory of combustion, while still studying at the university in Kraków. His later studies at European universities and his knowledge of the most recent literature ultimately channelled his views on chemistry. This was reflected in Śniadecki’s academic publications, in particular in his textbook: Początki chemii: stosownie do teraźniejszego tey umiejętności stanu dla pożytku uczniów i słuchaczów ułożony y za wzór lekcyi akademickich służyć mające (The Beginnings of Chemistry: Composed in Accordance with the Current State of This Skill for the Benefit of Students and Auditors to Be Used as a Model for Academic Classes) Vilnius, 1800. It was the first original chemistry textbook in the Polish language. The author used his own chemical terminology, modelled after the new French terminology. The Polish systemic chemical terminology, which conveyed information about the type and composition of a given substance, had been introduced by Śniadecki three years earlier, during his lectures at Vilnius University. The names proposed by Śniadecki caught on and were used in Poland for several decades. Jędrzej Śniadecki’s original contribution to global science was his theory that explained the phenomenon of life and the interdependencies between matter in the animate and inanimate world. This theory, published in the years 1804–1811, in Warsaw in three parts, was translated into German and French. The Polish edition was entitled Jędrzeja Śniadeckiego medycyny doktora Teoria jestestw organicznych (Theory of Organic Beings by Jędrzej Śniadecki, Medical Doctor). The first part was of great significance for the development of organic chemistry. When this work is compared with later publications by Justus Liebig, it can be shown that Śniadecki’s views had an impact on the writings of this German scholar. 

Słowa kluczowe: Jędrzej Śniadecki, podręcznik chemii, Lavoisier, Fourcroy, Liebig, kwasy, spalanie, pierwiastki, pierwiastki promieniste, cieplik, Wilno, Uniwersytet Wileński, nomenklatura chemiczna, powinowactwo, west (vestium), ruten / Jędrzej Śniadecki, chemistry textbook, acid, combustion, chemical elements, radial elements, caloric, Vilnius, Vilnius University, chemical terminology, affinity, vestium, ruthenium

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