By Bruce T. Moran

ISBN-10: 0674014952

ISBN-13: 9780674014954

ISBN-10: 0674022491

ISBN-13: 9780674022492

Alchemy cannot be science--common feel tells us as a lot. yet maybe logic isn't the most sensible degree of what technology is, or used to be. during this ebook, Bruce Moran seems to be prior modern assumptions and prejudices to figure out what alchemists have been truly doing within the context of early smooth technological know-how. reading the methods alchemy and chemistry have been studied and practiced among 1400 and 1700, he indicates how those ways encouraged their respective practitioners' principles approximately nature and formed their inquiries into the workings of the wildlife. His paintings units up a discussion among what historians have frequently provided as separate spheres; the following we see how alchemists and early chemists exchanged rules and techniques and actually shared a territory among their disciplines. Distilling wisdom means that medical revolution could put on a distinct visual appeal in numerous cultural contexts. The metaphor of the medical Revolution, Moran argues, may be elevated to make feel of alchemy and different so-called pseudo-sciences--by together with a brand new framework during which "process can count number as an item, within which making results in studying, and within which the messiness of clash ends up in discernment." visible by itself phrases, alchemy can stand in the bounds of demonstrative technology.

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Extra resources for Distilling Knowledge: Alchemy, Chemistry, and the Scientific Revolution (New Histories of Science, Technology, and Medicine)

Sample text

The book ridiculed alchemical daydreams; but when it came to working with metals and causing changes in them by applying alchemical techniques, it acknowledged plainly that alchemy was “the source and foundation” of many other arts. Making gold was, in Biringuccio’s view, a delusion. Alchemists simply could not, he reasoned, imitate what only nature could create. Even supposing that one could possess the basic materials from which nature composed metals, it still remained a puzzle to him how one could “receive at will the influence of the heavens, on which are dependent all inferior things .

Only in order to enjoy the fine fruits of its effects and the knowledge of them, and that pleasing novelty which it shows to the experimenter in operation [italics added]” (p. 337). That “pleasing novelty,” the discovery of something new, which alchemy confers on the artisan as a result of trying out different procedures, is not only what makes things thrilling in the laboratory or workshop but is also what makes alchemy itself, as well as other artisan activities, such an important feature of the Scientific Revolution.

In the period around 1300 a general lack of precious metals in Europe obstructed the expansionist plans of many territorial rulers and made their own claims to regional authority more vulnerable. To stretch their resources, some courts turned to the practical skills of assayers and alchemists, who, by alloying gold and silver with other metals, provided the court with a means of producing more coins from the usually modest amount of gold and silver at its disposal. The budgetary advantages of such processes were obvious.

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Distilling Knowledge: Alchemy, Chemistry, and the Scientific Revolution (New Histories of Science, Technology, and Medicine) by Bruce T. Moran

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