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Atoms and AlchemyChymistry and the Experimental Origins of the Scientific Revolution$
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William R. Newman

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780226576961

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226577036.001.0001

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Erastus and the Critique of Chymical Analysis

Erastus and the Critique of Chymical Analysis

(p.45) 2 Erastus and the Critique of Chymical Analysis
Atoms and Alchemy
University of Chicago Press

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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