|Abstract||In its heyday alchemy was a comprehensive theory of transmutation describing not only transformations of base into precious metals but also transformations of the soul up and down the great chain of being. Alchemy was not just a physics but also a metaphysics. Alchemy as metaphysics attracts interest to this day, as in Carl Jung's writings about the soul and personal identity. As he noted, "The alchemists sought for that effect which would heal not only the disharmonies of the physical world but inner psychic conflict as well, the 'affliction of the soul,' and they called this effect the lapis philosophorum [i.e., the philosopher's stone]. In order to obtain it, they had to loosen the age-old attachment of the soul to the body and thus make conscious the conflict between the purely natural and the spiritual man.".|
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