The Alkahest

Author: Honore de Balzac
Publisher: The Floating Press
ISBN: 1776539710
Size: 79.79 MB
Format: PDF, ePub
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Regarded by many critics as one of Honore de Balzac's foremost literary achievements, the novel The Alkahest offers an incisive look at the dangers of obsession. Scientist Balthazar Claes begins his research into alchemical properties with the best of intentions, but before long, he begins to neglect everything else in his life.

Alchemy Tried In The Fire

Author: William R. Newman
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226577023
Size: 68.12 MB
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Winner of the 2005 Pfizer Prize from the History of Science Society. What actually took place in the private laboratory of a mid-seventeenth century alchemist? How did he direct his quest after the secrets of Nature? What instruments and theoretical principles did he employ? Using, as their guide, the previously misunderstood interactions between Robert Boyle, widely known as "the father of chemistry," and George Starkey, an alchemist and the most prominent American scientific writer before Benjamin Franklin as their guide, Newman and Principe reveal the hitherto hidden laboratory operations of a famous alchemist and argue that many of the principles and practices characteristic of modern chemistry derive from alchemy. By analyzing Starkey's extraordinary laboratory notebooks, the authors show how this American "chymist" translated the wildly figurative writings of traditional alchemy into quantitative, carefully reasoned laboratory practice—and then encoded his own work in allegorical, secretive treatises under the name of Eirenaeus Philalethes. The intriguing "mystic" Joan Baptista Van Helmont—a favorite of Starkey, Boyle, and even of Lavoisier—emerges from this study as a surprisingly central figure in seventeenth-century "chymistry." A common emphasis on quantification, material production, and analysis/synthesis, the authors argue, illustrates a continuity of goals and practices from late medieval alchemy down to and beyond the Chemical Revolution. For anyone who wants to understand how alchemy was actually practiced during the Scientific Revolution and what it contributed to the development of modern chemistry, Alchemy Tried in the Fire will be a veritable philosopher's stone.

The Aspiring Adept

Author: Lawrence M. Principe
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9780691050829
Size: 59.19 MB
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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The Aspiring Adept presents a provocative new view of Robert Boyle (1627-1691), one of the leading figures of the Scientific Revolution, by revealing for the first time his avid and lifelong pursuit of alchemy. Boyle has traditionally been considered, along with Newton, a founder of modern science because of his mechanical philosophy and his experimentation with the air-pump and other early scientific apparatus. However, Lawrence Principe shows that his alchemical quest--hidden first by Boyle's own codes and secrecy, and later suppressed or ignored--positions him more accurately in the intellectual and cultural crossroads of the seventeenth century. Principe radically reinterprets Boyle's most famous work, The Sceptical Chymist, to show that it criticizes not alchemists, as has been thought, but "unphilosophical" pharmacists and textbook writers. He then shows Boyle's unambiguous enthusiasm for alchemy in his "lost" Dialogue on the Transmutation and Melioration of Metals, now reconstructed from scattered fragments and presented here in full for the first time. Intriguingly, Boyle believed that the goal of his quest, the Philosopher's Stone, could not only transmute base metals into gold, but could also attract angels. Alchemy could thus act both as a source of knowledge and as a defense against the growing tide of atheism that tormented him. In seeking to integrate the seemingly contradictory facets of Boyle's work, Principe also illuminates how alchemy and other "unscientific" pursuits had a far greater impact on early modern science than has previously been thought.