Alchemy (and there by modern inorganic chemistry) stems from, rather is deeply rooted, in philosophy and the “philosopher’s stone” is a legendary substance or process that turns base metals into gold.
As I sat in the waiting room of my doctor’s office, the nearby magazines drew my attention. Attracted to the nerdy science mags over the plentiful Home and Garden, Time and People magazines available, my curiosity convinced me to nose through an article on alchemy and it’s connections to philosophy. I can’t seem to remember the name of the magazine or the title of the article that peaked my interest, but the internet is plentiful on the topic.
My high school and college years proved I had a knack for physics and astronomy, with not so great of skills in chemistry. I loved taking classes and learning about the history of astronomy and physics, stemming from the same philosophers and inventors of the Golden Age. The thinkers of yesteryear contemplated the workings of our universe from the stars in the night sky to the rich properties of gold to the concept of the self. They wanted to know everything and were convinced everything related, and they were not far off, well maybe on the whole philosopher’s stone thing.
Back in college, while studying about how stars form and people relate to each other, a friend handed me Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder, a great novel integrating the history of philosophy with a little girl’s life. The novel seriously messed with my thinking for about a week, then I read it again. With this recent discovery, I may just have to pick it up again!
4 thoughts on “What I Learned Today… alchemy”
I can’t be sure 100%, but the general shift from Alchemy to Chemistry is a paradigm shift.
When enough new knowledge is discovered it replaces and sometimes even erases the past.
I totally agree. The shift in our thought process and the over all goal (we aren’t really trying to make gold anymore) stemed from knowedge gained from hypothesis, observation, and testing. The past is how we got to our future… instead of just excepting what is noow like a lot of people do, I sincerely enjoy finding out the process to how we got here. Thank you for the link and for reading!
Thanks for the p0st, Sara. I also enjoy reading/thinking about how “external events” shape human relations, and about how people are interconnected in all sorts of obvious and also hidden but nonetheless powerful ways. Two good books along these themes:
Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel; and Alice Walker’s The Temple of My Familiar. Neither is an easy read; they are both dense, but both are also enthralling and gratifying. I don’t know where you find time for pleasure reading (I sure don’t), but perhaps you’ll enjoy these if you haven’t already. And I’ll add Sophie’s World to the long list of books I’d like to get to one of these years 🙂
At this point I have finished two books this year and halfway through a third… that was after finishing only one book last year. I make time for a chapter or two at least once a week at bed time; this way I don’t forget where I am and have to re-read.
I haven’t read either of those books which sound interesting. For sure I will put them on my list, which truthfully isn’t that long (maybe about 10 books long). Sophie’s World is amazingly not that dense. It was made for anyone to understand the basics concepts of the deveoping philosophies and the novel/fiction parts drives you to keep reading.
I’m glad you enjoy reading… as I enjoy the writing!