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Promethean Ambitions – Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature - Chicago Scholarship Online
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Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature

William R. Newman


In this book, the author uses alchemy to investigate the thinning boundary between the natural and the artificial. Focusing primarily on the period between 1200 and 1700, he examines the labors of pioneering alchemists and the impassioned—and often negative—responses to their efforts. By the thirteenth century alchemy had become a benchmark for determining the abilities of both men and demons, representing the epitome of creative power in the natural world. The author frames the art–nature debate by contrasting the supposed transmutational power of alchemy with the merely representational abil ... More

Keywords: alchemy, transmutation, arts, Paracelsian school, homunculus, chymistry, Leonardo Da Vinci, Robert Boyle, chemistry, Francis Bacon

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2004 Print ISBN-13: 9780226577128
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226577135.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

William R. Newman, author