Aspects of the Word...
Originally a Greek word meaning 'burning up', from 'phlox' (flame), 'phlogiston' was coined in the 17th century to refer not to the mere phenomenon of fire but rather to the underlying nature of the process giving rise to it, a process understood to include not just crude combustion, but also the metabolism of living organisms. An earlier term for 'phlogiston' was 'terra pinguis' or 'fiery earth'; the idea of earth as being intimately associated with fire, i.e. as not just a passive principle but a generative one, is suggestive of the role of earth (matter) in the birth and nurture of life. 01/10/14
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