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Erastus and the Critique of Chymical Analysis

Erastus and the Critique of Chymical Analysis

Chapter:
(p.45) 2 Erastus and the Critique of Chymical Analysis
Source:
Atoms and Alchemy
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226577036.003.0003

This chapter examines Geber's insistence on the fact that laboratory operations can reveal the fundamental components of matter by means of analysis. Despite its immediate appeal to the modern mind, the chymists' belief that laboratory operations could separate the preexistent components of a given substance was far from unproblematic. A reliance on chymical analysis raised serious concerns about the artifactual nature of the products arrived at by laboratory operations. Scholastic natural philosophers were keenly aware of the fact that fire is a violent agent, which could impose new changes on matter as well as separating preexistent ingredients.

Keywords:   Erastus, chymical analysis, artifactual nature, preexistent ingredients, alchemy

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