We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Lavoisier and Mendeleev on the elements.

Hendry, R. F. (2005) 'Lavoisier and Mendeleev on the elements.', Foundations of chemistry., 7 (1). pp. 31-48.


Lavoisier defined an element as a chemical substance that cannot be decomposed using current analytical methods. Mendeleev saw an element as a substance composed of atoms of the same atomic weight. These `definitions' do quite different things: Lavoisier's distinguishes the elements from the compounds,so that the elements may form the basis of a compositional nomenclature; Mendeleev's offers a criterion of sameness and difference for elemental substances, while Lavoisier's does not. In this paper I explore the historical and theoretical background to each proposal. Lavoisier's and Mendeleev's explicit conceptions of elementhood differed from each other, and from the official IUPAC definitionof `element' of the 1920s. However, Lavoisier and Mendeleev both subscribed to – and employed – a deeper notion of a chemical element as the component of compound substances that (i) can survive chemical change, and (ii) explains the chemical behaviour of its compounds.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:
Keywords:Lavoisier, Mendeleev, Elements, Natural kinds, Theories of reference.
Full text:Full text not available from this repository.
Publisher Web site:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:No date available
Date of first online publication:January 2005
Date first made open access:No date available

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar