The recent historiography of alchemy clearly marked a substantial shift away from the view held by earlier historians of science, who tended to dismiss the discipline as a pseudoscience that played no role in the so-called Scientific Revolution. No longer considered as a kind of mystic or spiritual science (as eighteenth- and nineteenth-century occultists and psychologists wanted to interpret it; Principe 2013, 94–106), alchemy is now studied as a complex set of theories and laboratory practices aimed at manipulating natural substances and producing artificial products, which we would nowadays call chemical. Until the beginning of the eighteenth century it is impossible to draw a clear-cut distinction between alchemy and chemistry without retrospectively applying modern categories and definitions. At the end of the fifteenth century, Humanists introduced the terms chymia, chymicus, or chymista (“chemistry,” “chemical,” or “chemist”). Although this new vocabulary was sometimes interpreted as evidence for the existence of two distinct areas of expertise (namely chemistry and alchemy), it is now clear that the abovementioned terms were used as synonyms of “alchemy,” “alchemical,” and “alchemist.” Both alchymia and chymia referred to the same discipline mainly concerned with metallic transmutation and the production of medicines. In order to avoid any anachronism, scholars have recently introduced the term “chymistry” in reference to these activities from the late fifteenth to the end of the seventeenth centuries (Newman and Principe 1998). The rise of Paracelsianism and the debate that it generated greatly contributed to reshape late medieval alchemical theories and practices. New chymists reworked Paracelsian elements and combined them with the teaching of thirteenth- and fourteenth-century alchemists (such as ps.-Geber, ps.-Lull, ps.-Arnald of Villanova), thus contributing to lay the foundation of eighteenth-century academic chemistry.

Chemistry

Martelli, Matteo
2015

Abstract

The recent historiography of alchemy clearly marked a substantial shift away from the view held by earlier historians of science, who tended to dismiss the discipline as a pseudoscience that played no role in the so-called Scientific Revolution. No longer considered as a kind of mystic or spiritual science (as eighteenth- and nineteenth-century occultists and psychologists wanted to interpret it; Principe 2013, 94–106), alchemy is now studied as a complex set of theories and laboratory practices aimed at manipulating natural substances and producing artificial products, which we would nowadays call chemical. Until the beginning of the eighteenth century it is impossible to draw a clear-cut distinction between alchemy and chemistry without retrospectively applying modern categories and definitions. At the end of the fifteenth century, Humanists introduced the terms chymia, chymicus, or chymista (“chemistry,” “chemical,” or “chemist”). Although this new vocabulary was sometimes interpreted as evidence for the existence of two distinct areas of expertise (namely chemistry and alchemy), it is now clear that the abovementioned terms were used as synonyms of “alchemy,” “alchemical,” and “alchemist.” Both alchymia and chymia referred to the same discipline mainly concerned with metallic transmutation and the production of medicines. In order to avoid any anachronism, scholars have recently introduced the term “chymistry” in reference to these activities from the late fifteenth to the end of the seventeenth centuries (Newman and Principe 1998). The rise of Paracelsianism and the debate that it generated greatly contributed to reshape late medieval alchemical theories and practices. New chymists reworked Paracelsian elements and combined them with the teaching of thirteenth- and fourteenth-century alchemists (such as ps.-Geber, ps.-Lull, ps.-Arnald of Villanova), thus contributing to lay the foundation of eighteenth-century academic chemistry.
Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy
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Martelli, Matteo
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/625247
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