Joseph Priestley

Joseph Priestley (; – 6 February 1804) was an English chemist, natural philosopher, separatist theologian, grammarian, multi-subject educator, and liberal political theorist who published over 150 works. He has historically been credited with the discovery of oxygen, having isolated it in its gaseous state, although Carl Wilhelm Scheele and Antoine Lavoisier also have strong claims to the discovery, Scheele having discovered it in 1772, two years before Priestley.

During his lifetime, Priestley's considerable scientific reputation rested on his invention of carbonated water, his writings on electricity, and his discovery of several "airs" (gases), the most famous being what Priestley dubbed "dephlogisticated air" (oxygen). However, Priestley's determination to defend phlogiston theory and to reject what would become the chemical revolution eventually left him isolated within the scientific community.

Priestley's science was integral to his theology, and he consistently tried to fuse Enlightenment rationalism with Christian theism. In his metaphysical texts, Priestley attempted to combine theism, materialism, and determinism, a project that has been called "audacious and original". He believed that a proper understanding of the natural world would promote human progress and eventually bring about the Christian millennium. Priestley, who strongly believed in the free and open exchange of ideas, advocated toleration and equal rights for religious Dissenters, which also led him to help found Unitarianism in England. The controversial nature of Priestley's publications, combined with his outspoken support of the French Revolution, aroused public and governmental suspicion; he was eventually forced to flee in 1791, first to London and then to the United States, after a mob burned down his Birmingham home and church. He spent his last ten years in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.

A scholar and teacher throughout his life, Priestley also made significant contributions to pedagogy, including the publication of a seminal work on English grammar and books on history, and he prepared some of the most influential early timelines. These educational writings were among Priestley's most popular works. It was his metaphysical works, however, that had the most lasting influence, being considered primary sources for utilitarianism by philosophers such as Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and Herbert Spencer.

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1
by Priestley, Joseph
Published 1786
printed by Pearson and Rollason, and sold by J. Johnson, No. 72, ST. Paul's Church-Yard, London

2
by Priestley, Joseph
Published 1765
Published according to Act of Parliament Feb. 2d. 1765 by J. Johnson St. Paul's Church Yard

3
by Priestley, Joseph
Published 1775
printed for J. Johnson, No. 72, in St. Paul's Church-Yard

4
by Priestley, Joseph
Published 1790
printed by J. Thompson; and sold by J. Johnson, ST. Paul's Church-Yard, London
Subjects: '; ...Priestley, Joseph / 1733-1804 / Considerations on differences of opinion among Christians...

5
by Priestley, Joseph
Published 1769
printed for J. Dodsley, in Pall-Mall; T. Cadell, successor to Mr. Millar, in the Strand; and Johnson and Payne, in Pater-Noster Row

7
by Priestley, Joseph
Published 1775
Printed for J. Johnson, No.72, Saint Paul's Church-Yard

10
by Priestley, Joseph
Published 1789
printed by J. Thompson. Sold by J. Johnson, St. Paul's Church-Yard, London

11
by Priestley, Joseph
Published 1770
printed for J. Johnson (no 44.) Pater-Noster-Row

12
by Priestley, Joseph
Published 1777
printed for J. Johnson, No. 72, St. Paul's Church-Yard

13
by Priestley, Joseph
Published 1781
printed for J. Johnson, No. 72, St. Paul's Church Yard

14
by Priestley, Joseph
Published 1786
printed for J. Johnson, No. 72, St. Paul's Church Yard

15
by Priestley, Joseph
Published 1789
printed for J. Johnson, No. 72, St. Paul's Church Yard

16
by Priestley, Joseph
Published 1793
printed for J. Johnson, No. 72, St. Paul's Church Yard

17
by Priestley, Joseph
Published 1797
printed for J. Johnson, No 72, St. Paul's Church Yard

19
by Priestley, Joseph
Published 1765
printed for the author; and sold by himself, and by J. Bowles, in Cornhill, London

20
by Priestley, Joseph
Published 1770
printed for the author; and sold by J. Bowles, in Cornhill; C. Bowles, in St. Paul's Church-Yard; T. Jefferyes, at Charing-Cross; and R. Sayer, in Fleet-Street, London