Joseph Priestley: Some questions for discussion

1. Which of Priestley's achievements do you think is more important - his discovery of how to make 'pop' (carbonated water) or his discovery of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) which is used as an anaesthetic? Why?

2. Read Priestley's letter to the people of Birmingham, written after the 1791 riots. What can we learn about Priestley from this?

3. How appropriate is it to support one's point of view by acts of violence? How far is it better to engage in discussion? Will rational discussion always lead to a satisfactory solution?

4. Priestley was a polymath - a man of learning in many fields. What fields of knowledge might we expect a polymath to cover today? How important would theology or the history of relgions be?

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