Assignment On The Study Of Alchemy

1626 words - 7 pages

There are multiple ways to examine the subject material of alchemy, including alchemy as a source of symbolism, psychology, and mysticism. It has also been an influence on various writers, artists, and musicians alike. The focus of this report is to show how alchemy has changed the coming age of medicinal remedies and also its significant impact on today's scientific investigations, including the birthright of chemistry. Alchemy is an ancient art, refined and practiced in the Middle Ages, believed to be more of art rather than science. Alchemy is divided into two paths. One way is more practical and less meaningful, while the other is reaching spiritual enlightenment. Therefore, the two pathways of alchemy have contributed to modern-day sciences and religious outlooks.
The fundamental aim of alchemy was the production of the Philosopher's Stone, also known as the Elixir of Life. The Stone was believed to turn metals into gold, which was seen as a mark of success. Alchemy is the art of transformation", (Gilchrist 20 )stemmed partly from metallurgy, a science that deals with the extraction of metals from ore and the transmutation of metals to make alloys. "At its simplest, the alchemist turns base metals into gold."(Gilchrist 22) Because other metals were thought to be less perfect than gold, there was a reason to believe that gold was created out of other minerals deep beneath the earth which skilled artisans duplicated in the process. At the time, it was thought that once someone was capable of transmuting a base chemical into gold, he or she would be honored with eternal life and salvation. These attempts to discover the magical substance that would transform metals into gold inadvertently laid much of the groundwork of what is now known as chemistry. Although the purpose and techniques were often ritualistic, alchemy was, in many ways, the precursor of modern science and the essence of chemistry.
The origins of alchemy cannot be precisely dated, but it emerged as an art in its own right during the last two or three centuries BC."(Gilchrist 2) In the west, it centered primarily around Alexandria, Egypt in the Hellenistic Period, where it drew aspects of Graeco- Egyptian culture, which dealt chiefly with metals and minerals. In Alexandria, Alchemy began to flourish during the Hellenistic period. Alchemy was regarded by everyone else as a bunch of men trying to turn things into gold. However, this was not the primary objective of alchemy. Alchemy is not just the changing of base metals into gold as most people think. Alchemy stems from the studies of astrology; both make attempts to understand man's relationship to the universe. While alchemy is concerned with the elements of nature, astrology is concerned with the stars. This ancient science, which is still practiced today, is closely linked to astrology and the cosmos. Much has to do with planetary alignments, moon phases, or times of the year. Individual experiments could only be perfor...

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