Affinity, chemical
(786 words)

An early concept to explain chemical bonding, affinity described substances’ desire to bond with one another. Experiences from commercial chemical practices in the 17th century were thus brought together in a theoretical concept [5], at first explained in animistic or mechanistic terms, then from Isaac Newton onwards in terms of a substance-specific bonding “force.” Convinced of the lawful unity of nature, Newton had proposed in his Principia mathematica scientiae naturalis (1687) that all natural phenomena should be attributable to forces of attraction and r…

Cite this page
Meinel, Christoph, “Affinity, chemical”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Executive editor of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy. Consulted online on 21 March 2018 <>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20160321

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