Both Andreas Libavius and Heinrich Khunrath graduated from Basel Medical Academy in 1588, though the theses they defended reveal antithetical approaches to medicine, despite their shared interests in iatrochemistry and transmutational alchemy. Libavius argued in favour of Galenic allopathy while Khunrath promoted the contrasting homeopathic approach of Paracelsus and the utility of the occult doctrine of Signatures for medical purposes. This article considers these differences in the two graduates' theses, both as intimations of their subsequent divergent notions of the (...) boundaries of alchemy and its relations with medicine and magic, and also as evidence of the surprisingly unstable academic status of Paracelsian philosophy in Basel, its main publishing centre, at the end of the sixteenth century. (shrink)
Continental authors and editors often sought to ground alchemical writing within a long-established, coherent and pan-European tradition, appealing to the authority of adepts from different times and places. Greek, Latin and Islamic alchemists met both in person and between the covers of books, in actual, fictional or coincidental encounters: a trope utilised in Michael Maier’s Symbola aureae mensae duodecim nationum. This essay examines how works attributed to an English authority, George Ripley, were received in central Europe and incorporated into continental (...) compendia. Placed alongside works by the philosophers of other nations, Ripley’s writings helped affirm the unity and truth of alchemy in defiance of its critics. His continental editors were therefore concerned not only with the provenance of manuscripts and high-quality exemplars, but by a range of other factors, including the desire to suppress controversial material, intervene in contemporary polemics, and defend their art. In the resulting compilations, the vertical axis of alchemy’s long, diachronic tradition may be compared to the horizontal plane of pan-European alchemy. (shrink)
Our understanding of the role and development of alchemy in Poland and Lithuania is still in need of further research. However, it is already possible to present a number of interesting cases, starting with medieval scholars and passing through humanist intellectuals to early modern nobles and burghers. Although Michael Sendivogius was certainly the only Polish alchemist of pan-European stature, there were many others either lured by the dream of the Philosophers’ Stone or motivated by their thirst for knowledge. In (...) some cases that interest seems to be related to the revolution in science, while in some others—to religious reformation. A brief survey of those individuals and circles is presented, along with some initial conclusions about the alternative channels through which alchemy penetrated the Eastern frontiers of Europe. (shrink)
Alchemy has always had its ferocious defenders, and a small minority of artists remain interested in alchemical meanings and substances. In this essay I will suggest two reasons why alchemy is marginal to current visual art, and two more reasons why alchemical thinking remains absolutely central. Briefly: alchemy is irrelevant because (1) it is has been a minority interest from early modernism to the present, and therefore (2) it is outside the principal conversations about modernism and postmodernism; (...) but alchemy is central because (3) it provides the best language to explain the fascination of oil paint, and (4) it is one of the best models for understanding the contemporary aversion to full logical or rational sense. (shrink)
The parallel usage of the two terms "alchemy" and "chemistry" by seventeenth-century writers has engendered considerable confusion among historians of science. Many historians have succumbed to the temptation of assuming that the early modern term "chemistry" referred to something like the modern discipline, while supposing that "alchemy" pertained to a different set of practices and beliefs, predominantly the art of transmuting base metals into gold. This paper provides the first exhaustive analysis of the two terms and their interlinguistic (...) cognates in the seventeenth century. It demonstrates that the intentional partition of the two terms with the restriction of alchemy to the the sense of metallic transmutation was not widely accepted until the end of the seventeenth century, if even then. The major figure in the restriction of meaning, Nicolas Lemery, built on a spurious interpretation of the Arabic definite article al, which he inherited from earlier sources in the chemical textbook tradition. In order to curtail the tradition of anachronism and distortion engendered by the selective use of the terms "alchemy" and "chemistry" by historians, the authors conclude by suggesting a return to seventeenth-century terminology for discussing the different aspects of the early modern discipline "chymistry.". (shrink)
Crispin Wright has proposed that one has entitlements to accept certain propositions that play a foundational role within one’s body of belief. Such an entitlement is a kind of warrant that does not require the possessor to have acquired evidence speaking in favor of the proposition in question. The proposal allows Wright to concede much of the force of the most powerful arguments for scepticism, while avoiding the truly sceptical conclusion that one lacks warrant for most of one’s beliefs. Here (...) I will argue that Wright has underestimated a problem for his proposal, the alchemy problem, which is that it seems to make room for the easy conversion of mere entitlement to accept a proposition into justification to believe it. I question the adequacy of Wright’s own response to this worry, and instead explore the idea that epistemic alchemy, properly understood, is not epistemically objectionable. (shrink)
All human relationships are containers of emotional life, but what are the structures underlying them? Nathan Schwartz-Salant looks at all kinds of relationships through an analyst's eye. By analogy with the ancient system of alchemy he shows how states of mind that can undermine our relationships - in marriage, in creative work, in the workplace - can become transformative when brought to consciousness. It is only by learning how to access the interactive field of our relationships that we can (...) enter this transformative process and explore its mysterious potential for self-realization. (shrink)
_Mysterium Coniunctionis_ was first published in the _Collected Works of C.G. Jung _in 1963. For this second edition of the work, numerous corrections and revisions have been made in cross-references to other volumes of the _Collected Works _now available and likewise in the Bibliography. _Mysterium Coniunctionis_ was Jung's last work of book length and gives a final account of his lengthy researches in alchemy. It was Jung's empirical discovery that certain key problems of modern man were prefigures in what (...) t he alchemists called their 'art' or 'process'. Jung maintained that 'the world of alchemical symbols does not belong to the rubbish heap of the past, but stands in a very real and living relationship to our most recent discoveries concerning the psychology of the unconscious'. The volume includes ten plates, a Bibliography, an Index, and an Appendix of original Latin and Greek texts quoted in the work. (shrink)
Alchemy is central to Jung's hypothesis of the collective unconscious. In this volume he begins with an outline of the process and aims of psychotherapy, and then moves on to work out the analogies between alchemy, Christian dogma and symbolism and his own understanding of the analytic process. Introducing the basic concepts of alchemy, Jung reminds us of the dual nature of alchemy, comprising both the chemical process and a parallel mystical component. He also discusses the (...) seemingly deliberate mystification of the alchemists. Finally, in using the alchemical process as providing insights into individuation, Jung emphasises the importance of alchemy in relating to us the transcendent nature of the psyche. (shrink)
(2001). Corpuscular alchemy and the tradition of Aristotle's Meteorology, with special reference to Daniel Sennert. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science: Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 145-153. doi: 10.1080/02698590120059013.
The landscape of seventeenth-century chemistry is complex, and it is impossible to find in it either a clear-cut distinction between alchemy and chemistry or a sort of simple identification of the two. The seventeenth-century cultural context contained a rich variety of "chemical" discourses with arguments ranging from specific experiments to the justification of the validity of chemistry and its novelty in terms of its extraordinary antiquity. On the basis of an analysis of the works by O. Borch, J.J. Glauber, (...) and J. J. Becher, this paper tries to demonstrate that a historical reconstruction of "chemistry" must consider these different levels of the chemical debate. Only then will it be possible to appreciate the outstanding role played by G.E. Stahl in founding modern chemistry. The paper argues in favor of a contextualization of the historical research on seventeenth-century chemistry. (shrink)
The ancient practice of alchemy, which thrived in Europe until the seventeenth century, dealt with the phenomenon of transformation--not only of materials but also of the human spirit. Through their work in the material realm, alchemists discovered personal rebirth as well as a linking between outer and inner dimensions.C. G. Jung first turned to alchemy for personal illumination in coping with trauma brought on by his break with Freud. Alchemical symbolism eventually suggested to Jung that there was a (...) process in the unconscious, one that had a goal beyond discharging tension and hiding pain. In this book, Nathan Schwartz-Salant, a leading Jungian analyst with an interest in alchemy, brings together a key selection of Jung's writings on the subject. These writings expose us to Jung's fascinating reflections on the symbols of alchemy--such as the three-headed Mercurial dragon, hermaphrodites, and lions devouring the sun--and brings us closer to the spirit of his approach to the unconscious, closer than his purely scientific concepts often allow. (shrink)
The Renaissance of scientific thought in twelfth-century Western culture, when alchemy was introduced into the Latin schools, was largely due to the wave of translations, mainly from Arabic into Latin, but also including translations into and from Hebrew, sometimes with vernacular languages as intermediaries. Alchemy, whose tradition had been broken in the West at the end of the Hellenistic age, gained considerable attention—albeit less than astronomy/astrology and medicine—from the twelfth-century translators, who presented Latin culture with a hitherto unknown (...) doctrine that was completely different from any other science. Alchemy, as the Latin Middle Ages received it, is the philosophical search for the agent of material perfection by means of the manipulation of base materials. It thereby united theory and practice in a way unexpected by Latin scholars. In fact, alchemy as a doctrine was inseparable from laboratory practice; and this practice so much resembled well-established craftsmen's labor that for a long period the place of alchemy in the divisio disciplinarum wavered between the mechanical and the liberal arts. (shrink)
This paper examines the alchemical interests of Ludovico Lazzarelli and of some alchemical texts connected with his name, analyzing them within the context of Lazzarelli's Hermetic philosophical position. Beginning with an analysis of the specific relationship between alchemy and Hermeticism expressed by Lazzarelli, this paper proposes for discussion some general hypotheses on the link between alchemy and Hermeticism and between alchemy and magic in the Quattrocento.
: The controversy about research on human embryonic stem cells both divides and defines us, raising fundamental ethical and religious questions about the nature of the self and the limits of science. This article uses Jewish sources to articulate fundamental concerns about the forbiddenness of knowledge in general and of knowledge thought of as magical creation. Alchemy, and the turning of elements into gold and into substances for longevity, and magic used for the creation of living beings was at (...) stake in various Talmudic texts. Since contemporary discourse calls regenerative science magical, and makes claims about its restorative power, careful reflection on when magic is forbidden and when it is responsible allows a novel understanding of ethical questions in stem cell research. (shrink)
This essay presents a reading of the work of two central figures of modern social theory that locates their work within not simply mainstream Jewish thought, but a particular Hasidic tradition. Further, I argue that lying behind this, in a repressed form, is an even older tradition of Jewish alchemy. I make no claim to have evidence that either Freud or Durkheim were directly influenced by Hasidism or alchemy, but I examine the parallels between the structure of their (...) thoughts and those of the two traditions. Both Freud and Durkheim display a social psychology that is analytically similar to the dualism of Hasidism's Tanya and the general transformational models of alchemy. This formal model is in opposition to the messianic tradition in Jewish thought and analyzes Freud and Durkheim as anti messianic social psychologists. Hasidism offers a template for modern theories of social psychology, social interaction and the relation between the social and the individual, that is, collective identity. This essay also considers more generally how modern social theory might make sense of contemporary social phenomena by opening itself to the messianic and mystical traditions in Jewish thought. I suggest that the social and structural transformation associated with the information or network society requires new analytic tools that allow us to explain social energy differently to the way Freud and Durkheim have guided social theory. Contemporary analyses of individualization, social movements and sacralization as forms of and reactions to alienation are inadequate. Instead, I ask whether we should not 'restore a messianic, truly utopian "lost unity", which the alchemical, secular gnosis of modern social science displaced, and so renew social theory?'. (shrink)
This paper is concerned not with the specifics of alchemy in the Canon's Yeoman's Tale — i.e., the yeoman's garbled but nevertheless very full account of the contents of his master's laboratory and of the activities carried on therein — but rather with the contribution of the literature of alchemy to other aspects of the tale: to framework, theme, and characters. Especially, it undertakes to demonstrate that in portraying the yeoman-narrator, the alchemist-canon, and the canon and priest of (...) Secunda Pars Chaucer made significant use of the alchemical treatises and other writings about alchemy available to him at the end of the fourteenth century. Presumption of his reliance upon written documents in this instance is in keeping with his frequently avowed dependence for inspiration and material upon “bokes olde and newe” and is buttressed by scholarly investigations which have demonstrated his creation of complex human beings, very much alive, from bookish materials: treatises on medicine, physiognomy, dream lore, and astrology; antifeminist writings of the church fathers; scriptural commentary and the like. One calls to mind his transformation of learned lore in the instances of the Summoner, the Pardoner, the more than half human rooster Chantecleer, that magnificently complex human being the Wife of Bath. (shrink)
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.". (shrink)
The present article is devoted to two issues. The first is the identification of lead and tin in medieval Arabic alchemy. The second is the investigation of whether Arabic alchemists differentiate between these problematic substances or not. These two issues are investigated in the light of a comparison which is made between the facts that are stated about the two problematic substances in the original Arabic alchemical works and those stated in modern chemical literature. It is proved that Arabic (...) alchemists made a sharp distinction between lead and tin. Also, it becomes clear that these two metals were used in a satisfactory purity in the era of medieval Arabic alchemy. As a consequence of the present study, some conclusions are drawn about the existence of some categories of ‘derivatives’ of fusible bodies in Arabic alchemy which are degenerate to modern categories of oxides, carbonates, etc. (shrink)
The new edition of The Forge and the Crucible contains an updated appendix, in which Eliade lists works on Chinese alchemy published in the past few years. He also discusses the importance of alchemy in Newton's scientific evolution.
Reissuing seminal works originally published between 1916 and 1995, Routledge Library Editions: Alchemy (7 volume set) offers a selection of scholarship covering various facets of alchemical traditions. Some texts examine alchemy itself while some offer insight into the motives for alchemical research and others outlay portraits of people such as Giordano Bruno and John Dee.
A complete history of alchemy revealing the subject as much more than the attempts in early science of turning base metals into gold or silver, this book goes about intimating the mystical experience underlying hermetic symbolism. It outlines some of the ‘secret’ inner meanings to alchemy - symbolism, metaphysics, and spirituality. This book contains a universe of information and is worthwhile reading for anyone wanting to know more on this engaging subject. Originally published in 1926.
I argue that if we read E. H. Gombrich's Art and Illusion with the charity that it deserves, we will find a much subtler theory of depiction than the illusion theory that is usually attributed to Gombrich. Instead of suggesting that pictures are illusory because they cause us to have experiences as of seeing the depicted objects face to face, I argue that Art and Illusion is better read as making the point that naturalistic pictures are illusory because they cause (...) us to see qualities and properties that the pictures themselves do not possess. Once we appreciate this point, we will be in a better position to appraise the value and limits of naturalistic art. (shrink)
From a young age Albie Sachs played a prominent part in the struggle for justice in South Africa. As a result he was detained in solitary confinement, tortured by sleep deprivation and eventually blown up by a car bomb which cost him his right arm and the sight of an eye. His experiences provoked an outpouring of creative thought on the role of law as a protector of human dignity in the modern world, and a lifelong commitment to seeing a (...) new era of justice established in South Africa. After playing an important role in drafting South Africa's post-apartheid Constitution, he was appointed by Nelson Mandela to be a member of the country's first Constitutional Court. Over the course of his fifteen year term on the Court he has grappled with the major issues confronting modern South Africa, and the challenges posed to the fledgling democracy as it sought to overcome the injustices of the apartheid regime. As his term on the Court approaches its end, Sachs here conveys in intimate fashion what it has been like to be a judge in these unique circumstances, how his extraordinary life has influenced his approach to the cases before him, and his views on the nature of justice and its achievement through law. The book provides unique access to an insider's perspective on modern South Africa, and a rare glimpse into the working of a judicial mind. By juxtaposing life experiences and extracts from judgments, Sachs enables the reader to see the complex and surprising ways in which legal culture transforms subjective experience into objectively reasoned decisions. With rare candour he tells of the difficulties he has when preparing a judgment, of how every judgment is a lie. Rejecting purely formal notions of the judicial role he shows how both reason and passion are required for law to work in the service of justice. (shrink)
This dissertation reassesses the chemical revolution that occurred in eighteenth-century France from the pharmacists' perspective. I use French pharmacy to place the event in historical context, understanding this revolution as constituted by more than simply a change in theory. The consolidation of a new scientific community of chemists, professing an importantly changed science of chemistry, is elucidated by examining the changing relationship between the communities of pharmacists and chemists across the eighteenth century. This entails an understanding of the chemical revolution (...) that takes into account social and institutional transformations as well as theoretical change, and hence incorporates the reforms brought about during and after the French Revolution. First, I examine the social rise of philosophical chemistry as a scientific pursuit increasingly independent of its practical applications, including pharmacy, and then relate this to the theoretical change brought about by Lavoisier and his oxygenic system of chemistry. Then, I consider the institutional reforms that placed Lavoisier's chemistry in French higher education. ;During the seventeenth century, chemistry was intimately entwined with pharmacy, and chemical manipulations were primarily intended to enhance the medicinal properties of a substance. An independent philosophical chemistry gained ground during the eighteenth century, and this development culminated in the work of Lavoisier who cast pharmacy out of his chemistry altogether. Fourcroy, one of Lavoisier's disciples, brought the new chemistry to the pharmacists in both his textbooks and his legislation. Under Napoleon, Fourcroy instituted a new system of education for pharmacists that placed a premium on formal scientific education. Fourcroy's successors, Vauquelin and Bouillon-Lagrange, taught the new chemistry to the elite pharmacists in the School of Pharmacy in Paris. These pharmacists also developed new analytical techniques that combined the aims of the new chemistry with traditional pharmaceutical extractive practices. The scientific pharmacist was created, who, although a respected member of the community of pharmacists, helped to define the new chemistry precisely by not being a true chemist. (shrink)