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Awani
09-07-2016, 06:35 PM
This is just an open question:

When an "alchemist" is doing a practical laboratory process (whatever it may be), whatever happens there are scientific explanations of what has happened.

Although this doesn't make the practical alchemy project irrelevant, it just means that it is basically chemistry + using different language to explain what is going on...

There is nothing an alchemist in the lab does that a chemist can't do (if he wanted to). So in a sense isn't alchemy just hobby chemistry + some philosophical ideas sprayed all over; calling something Red Lion instead of X with the atomic number X for example.

Isn't practical alchemy pseudo-chemistry? And if not, why isn't it?

:cool:

Seth-Ra
09-07-2016, 06:45 PM
It isn't because chemistry claims you cannot transmute the way alchemists claimed you can. There are things alchemists can effect in the material that is not accounted for in chemistry.

Practical workers may disagree to an extent of how or why things can do differently, either due to process, material used, unexplained/unknown force, or simply magick (or all of the above to a degree), they all agree that chemistry has it wrong on transmutation, and that there is more to the goings ons of creation than what is commonly accepted among their institution.

Chemistry was made for those who couldn't do Alchemy.



~Seth-Ra

Awani
09-07-2016, 06:58 PM
Chemistry was made for those who couldn't do Alchemy.

You could also say alchemy is done by those who can't do chemistry.

Perhaps all the secrets have been kept from my eyes, but personally I am not impressed by any alchemical lab work I have seen or read about... unless of course you are talking about lab work that is supposed to create various "substances" that have beneficial qualities for the body/mind - or inspire the alchemist in their inner path. But again even if science don't use the same terminology (and that they reject the power of the invisible forces of the mind etc.), science could still explain why such substances are good for the body in certain cases.

:cool:

Seth-Ra
09-07-2016, 07:26 PM
You could also say alchemy is done by those who can't do chemistry.

Personally, I disagree with this. Math aside, chemistry itself is easier, more narrow focused, and with plenty of ways to get assistance.
Alchemy, however, requires more than just chemical understanding and knowledge, but also philosophical, mental/psychological, and spiritual understanding of things. It's called the Philosopher's Stone or Sorcerer's Stone; the Stone of the Wise, not the Stone of the chemists, materialists. (Or purely spiritualists for that matter)
The alchemist is multidisciplinary, and harmonizes those disciplines into a singular All Encompassing Art and Science. It strives for wholeness, not fracturing into subgroups. (And those that fracture it, can't rightly call themselves alchemists)



Perhaps all the secrets have been kept from my eyes, but personally I am not impressed by any alchemical lab work I have seen or read about... unless of course you are talking about lab work that is supposed to create various "substances" that have beneficial qualities for the body/mind - or inspire the alchemist in their inner path. But again even if science don't use the same terminology (and that they reject the power of the invisible forces of the mind etc.), science could still explain why such substances are good for the body in certain cases.

:cool:

Science can only oberve and attempt to explain what something does - but it won't inherently create the Stone, for it possesses no vision of how/why.
Fundamentally Form follows Function = matter follows spirit / action follows consciousness. (Micro and Macro)
With no connection to the Spirit/Consiousness, one cannot construct or cause matter and Form to follow them.
Some scientists move things around with a small idea of things - but only on the fringes of the quantum sciences are they even attempting to bridge the gap between all the fractures they have crafted with their subsequent separations. To the Alchemist, there are no fractures, the is One Art, One Thing and One Mind/Spirit.

To say the chemist is a modern alchemist, is to say that a politician or lawyer is a modern shaman. Lol




~Seth-Ra

z0 K
09-07-2016, 08:03 PM
This is just an open question:

When an "alchemist" is doing a practical laboratory process (whatever it may be), whatever happens there are scientific explanations of what has happened.

Although this doesn't make the practical alchemy project irrelevant, it just means that it is basically chemistry + using different language to explain what is going on...

There is nothing an alchemist in the lab does that a chemist can't do (if he wanted to). So in a sense isn't alchemy just hobby chemistry + some philosophical ideas sprayed all over; calling something Red Lion instead of X with the atomic number X for example.

Isn't practical alchemy pseudo-chemistry? And if not, why isn't it?

:cool:


Scientific explanations are possible whatever happens anywhere with anything. That does not make them correct or absolute. Scientific theories are such because they are repeatable. Engineers can even automate creations based on them.

Once you reach a certain level in alchemy you know you are manipulating something scientists could also manipulate if they were first able to give it substance in the lab vessels. Unfortunately for the practicing chemists they only manipulate fixed bodies not the Spirit and Soul found in Nature but the elements and molecules that remain when that richness of Spirit and Soul have been removed by non-philosophic preparation. Alchemy is not chemistry though some chemists are adept alchemists in secret I know for a fact.

So indeed some skilled chemists are adept alchemists in the lab but it is a misunderstanding to think that alchemy is just a hobby unless you believe life is just a hobby. A hobby is something that you want to do. A job such as chemist is what you have to do to get credits to pay too much for things you don’t need.

If I told you everything you need to know to substantiate that Spirit using only the metaphor of the Lion and the Dragon you would have to work in a chemistry-like lab in order to accomplish it. On the other hand you can substantiate that Spirit and Soul in your Being simply by breathing. That is what Hollandus was referring to with his epistle to the Great Work.

Chasm
09-07-2016, 09:36 PM
This is just an open question:
Isn't practical alchemy pseudo-chemistry? And if not, why isn't it?:cool:

Truth is, none of us who doesn't already possess the universal solvent, is practicing alchemy.
Chemistry was developed by those seeking to understand alchemy. (citation needed, I have a big head but I'm lazy at times) ;)
Lavoisier developed the modern nomenclature for chemists. The alchemists had more...imagination :cool:


You could also say alchemy is done by those who can't do chemistry.

I'd have to respectfully disagree. It's more the other way around.


Science can only observe and attempt to explain what something does - but it won't inherently create the Stone, for it possesses no vision of how/why.
Fundamentally Form follows Function = matter follows spirit / action follows consciousness. (Micro and Macro)
With no connection to the Spirit/Consciousness, one cannot construct or cause matter and Form to follow them.
Some scientists move things around with a small idea of things - but only on the fringes of the quantum sciences are they even attempting to bridge the gap between all the fractures they have crafted with their subsequent separations. To the Alchemist, there are no fractures, the is One Art, One Thing and One Mind/Spirit.

To say the chemist is a modern alchemist, is to say that a politician or lawyer is a modern shaman. Lol

Well said Seth!


Once you reach a certain level in alchemy you know you are manipulating something scientists could also manipulate if they were first able to give it substance in the lab vessels. Unfortunately for the practicing chemists they only manipulate fixed bodies not the Spirit and Soul found in Nature but the elements and molecules that remain when that richness of Spirit and Soul have been removed by non-philosophic preparation. Alchemy is not chemistry though some chemists are adept alchemists in secret I know for a fact.

Aspiring alchemists perhaps? :confused: but absolutely correct IMHO!

Florius Frammel
09-07-2016, 09:37 PM
Let me tell you that studying Chemistry really is hard work. It takes years to really understand the basics and I doubt that many chemists do. Basic alchemy would be much easier understood by students as it's more connected to the real world. There is almost no difference for students to accept the existance of invisible small particles that are responsible for the properties of a substance or accept the existence of an invisible force that effects matter in a methaphysical way. At least in my opinion.

There also is no better or worse. Both have different user interfaces to work with the hardware we all use.

Don't bash modern chemistry. Without it food would be much harder to get and more expansive and the medications saved a lot of lifes. Of course there is a dark side. But that's with everything.

And it is not clear what the alchemists in former times meant with transmutation. The concept of atoms and elements is rather new.
For example a calcination of a metal could be understood as a transmutation as all properties that can be experienced change completely.

Chasm
09-07-2016, 09:51 PM
Let me tell you that studying Chemistry really is hard work. It takes years to really understand the basics and I doubt that many chemists do. Basic alchemy would be much easier understood by students as it's more connected to the real world. There is almost no difference for students to accept the existance of invisible small particles that are responsible for the properties of a substance or accept the existence of an invisible force that effects matter in a methaphysical way. At least in my opinion.
Chemistry is a tough study. The reason being imo is that the foundation is faulty.
As Z0K said, they work with fixed bodies. They all but ignore the spirit side of matter. What's interesting, is that they confuse spirit with religious dogma and so shake their heads.
Students are forced to bend their minds around concepts that are not intuitive.
I'm going to recommend Walter Russell here again.


There also is no better or worse. Both have different user interfaces to work with the hardware we all use.
This is questionable.

Don't bash modern chemistry. Without it food would be much harder to get and more expansive and the medications saved a lot of lifes. Of course there is a dark side. But that's with everything.
Hehe! But imagine if we used alchemic methods to increase food supply and for our medicines. We'd have no franken-food and more healthy people. The dark side is probably the misuse of the knowledge. So you're right!

JDP
09-08-2016, 10:44 AM
This is just an open question:

When an "alchemist" is doing a practical laboratory process (whatever it may be), whatever happens there are scientific explanations of what has happened.

Although this doesn't make the practical alchemy project irrelevant, it just means that it is basically chemistry + using different language to explain what is going on...

There is nothing an alchemist in the lab does that a chemist can't do (if he wanted to). So in a sense isn't alchemy just hobby chemistry + some philosophical ideas sprayed all over; calling something Red Lion instead of X with the atomic number X for example.

Isn't practical alchemy pseudo-chemistry? And if not, why isn't it?

:cool:

Since "alchemy" is older than "chemistry" one could reverse this as well: is chemistry a pseudo-alchemy?

The real problem is: there are things which do not appear to have much of any real "explanation" from the point of view of chemistry. I am not even talking about "alchemy" here, but some "particular" processes of 17th-18th century "chymistry" which produce some remarkable results for which I can't find any explanation from the point of view of the theories and speculations about matter of chemistry & physics. Of course, the difference does not have anything to do with any alleged "spiritual/mental" powers, as some people in modern times think. Anyone can carry out such things. Alchemy/transmutation does not require Jedi Knights or Saints to be performed.

theFool
09-08-2016, 11:03 AM
The real problem is: there are things which do not appear to have much of any real "explanation" from the point of view of chemistry. I agree with JDP, although I have not encountered myself something that can't be explained with current chemistry (or maybe some things at the scientific "border" only).

So, dev, there are not always available scientific explanations of what has happened in the lab. Mainstream science has ruled out the possibility of the philosopher's stone and the existence of the elixir. If every lab procedure could be explained scientifically, then chemists would have already discovered those two things.

Florius Frammel
09-08-2016, 11:05 AM
@JDP: Can you name some of these unexplainable experiments?

JDP
09-08-2016, 11:13 AM
And it is not clear what the alchemists in former times meant with transmutation. The concept of atoms and elements is rather new.

So? Neither one of them is needed for understanding or conceiving what metallic transmutation is. Alchemists usually followed or elaborated on Aristotelian ideas. Metals were seen as concrete bodies, thought up to be composed by nature out of the "prime matter" and "four elements" that made up the whole universe, but so stable in their composition that they were very resistant to change. There is no "ambiguity" whatsoever regarding what alchemists meant by transmutation. Base metals like lead, tin, copper and iron were very easily distinguished from noble ones like silver and gold. Since antiquity a number of tests had been accumulating to easily identify these substances. Base metals did not resist calcination, cementation, cupellation, exposure to acid vapors (specially vinegar), etc. Noble metals did. Such properties were the result of the "accidental" qualities of each metal. So changing lead into silver, for example, meant getting rid of all those "accidental" qualities that distinguished lead and inserting the "accidental" qualities that characterized silver in their place. You don't need more modern concepts about "atoms" or "elements" to dabble in the subject of metallic transmutation.

Another thing: Since even Aristotle himself held some types of "corpuscular" theories (see, for example, his "Meteorologica") about matter many alchemists also held "corpuscular" theories about matter too. Read, for example, the Latin "Geber", who many times gives corpuscular explanations, including for transmutation. So even this is not unique to chemistry & physics.


For example a calcination of a metal could be understood as a transmutation as all properties that can be experienced change completely.

Not at all. Most alchemists and even "puffers" were well aware that things like calcination or solution in acids did not really alter metals, despite the outward changes in appearance, and they could be recovered intact.

JDP
09-08-2016, 11:24 AM
@JDP: Can you name some of these unexplainable experiments?

The subject is under investigation and I am not prepared to divulge any results yet. All I can tell you at this point is that I have indeed obtained small amounts of silver from metals like lead and bismuth, and small amounts of what appears to be gold from silver. And these were certainly NOT the results of any "impurities", as most chemists pretend to supposedly "explain" transmutation in past centuries. Many of those 17th-18th century "chymists" were sure as heck much more savvy and experienced than modern chemists are willing to acknowledge. In fact, even some "chemists" were well aware of such facts. Even Lavoisier's teacher was totally convinced of the reality of transmutation, and his conviction was not based just on "theories" but on actual demonstrative experiments devised by the previous generations of "chymists", some of which I have repeated successfully myself.

Awani
09-08-2016, 11:28 AM
So, dev, there are not always available scientific explanations of what has happened in the lab. Mainstream science has ruled out the possibility of the philosopher's stone and the existence of the elixir. If every lab procedure could be explained scientifically, then chemists would have already discovered those two things.

Yes I but no alchemist has discovered these either (none that have not kept it a secret at least). Of course it also depends on how you define those two things, and every alchemist has different views on what they are. I have my own view and I personally see the Stone as different than what other alchemists might see it as, but every account I have come across so far that claim to have either made gold, Stone or Elixir of Life have really just created a "weak" version of those things... and not the real thing.

So if chemistry can't do it, is it so because alchemy can't either?

:cool:

theFool
09-08-2016, 11:46 AM
So if chemistry can't do it, is it so because alchemy can't either? No scientist can claim that science has discovered everything (even if they pretend to).
The universe is a place of endless posibilities.
This leaves room for many undiscovered things. And that is enough for me.

Awani
09-08-2016, 12:09 PM
No scientist can claim that science has discovered everything (even if they pretend to).
The universe is a place of endless posibilities.
This leaves room for many undiscovered things. And that is enough for me.

I am not disagreeing really. This whole thread was an open question... meaning I really don't have an opinion... but it would be very interesting if someone that knew a lot about both chemistry and alchemy did some lab work. As it is now either one of those types of people only see half the picture.

Alchemy has helped chemistry become what it is today, it would only be natural (and smart) if chemistry could be used to improve alchemy.

:cool:

theFool
09-08-2016, 02:36 PM
Alchemy has helped chemistry become what it is today, it would only be natural (and smart) if chemistry could be used to improve alchemy. Just some thoughts, not oppossing you. I think alchemy doesn't care if chemistry exists or not. Alchemy is a secret art, practiced in closed circles and it is in a way fixed. Chemistry was born out of the failed attempts of the "outsiders" to uncover the veil of alchemy.

People who are in the circle of secrecy do not need the improvements of chemistry. People who are outside, depend on chemistry and the scientific way of thinking because it is probably the only way that can help to uncover the mystery. Obviously, a lot of road remains to be covered.


every account I have come across so far that claim to have either made gold, Stone or Elixir of Life have really just created a "weak" version of those things... and not the real thing. Those people are not alchemists. The majority are "alchemist wanabees" and fantasizing things (ourselves included; alchemist is someone who has accomplished the Stone and the elixir). To those people chemistry can be helpful.

Ghislain
09-09-2016, 12:55 PM
I wanted to ask a question of zoas23 on a statement he made in Alchemical Symbolism in Politics (http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?4844-Alchemical-Symbolism-in-Politics/page4). I thought that question would be most suitably posted here in this thread.




By the way... both Wittgenstein and Bergson could perfectly be used to explain the question you asked in a different thread: "Why alchemy is not pseudo-chemistry?".
A Wittgenstenian (am I inventing this word?) answer would be that chemistry is constrained to the realm of logic, but logic is unable to explain its own sense... the sense comes from something else that is "above" language and logic and is transcendental in a real way... and that's what alchemy works with... and that's what chemistry CAN'T work with.

What is this "sense" that does not come from logic? Aren't all new scientific discoveries found by people thinking outside of the box, moving away from that which would be labelled as logic at that time, but which most would now consider completely logical; that is those that were proved repeatable.

If there is a repeatable way to reach the goal of Alchemy, then does this not become a science, perhaps Chemistry?

Chemistry is a science and science asks for proof, if this proof can be exhibited within Alchemy then surely the alchemical process becomes scientific...perhaps not chemistry, maybe under a category all of its own.

What can a person studying a subject bring to the table that any other studying the same cannot? Obviously there are levels of understanding, but I am talking in general.

I posted an article, which I have used many times to give an example to my train of thought here, it is just the Index (http://www1.lsbu.ac.uk/water/water_sitemap.html) that facinates me...Just take a scroll through the index on water, ignoring the fact that there are many sub-indexes and ask yourself if you have covered as much information on Alchemy as you would have to, to fully understand the subject of water; something we all take for granted.

There is no sentence of death for studying water as there has been with the study of Alchemy. Water is a fundamental material for our survival and as such I am sure there have been fortunes spent on its studies with untold amounts of equipment and millions of people involved; yet still there lie unanswered questions on the subject. How do these people's studies differ from any Alchemist?

What hope is there of ever knowing you have understood the ancient texts until you or someone you know reach that final destination of the alchemical goal and can repeat it?

Having said all of this I do possess a feeling that lies outside of the realm of logic, but this has nothing to offer anyone in this version of reality. ;) Perhaps that is why it can only be described through allegory and symbolism as no words have been created to explain it and are unlikely to be in the future; hence words like Mercury, Sulphur and Salt, which have no alchemical meaning at all in the real sense of those words today.


Ghislain

Chasm
09-09-2016, 01:10 PM
I wanted to ask a question of zoas23 on a statement he made in Alchemical Symbolism in Politics (http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?4844-Alchemical-Symbolism-in-Politics/page4). I thought that question would be most suitably posted here in this thread.



What is this "sense" that does not come from logic? Aren't all new scientific discoveries found by people thinking outside of the box, moving away from that which would be labelled as logic at that time, but which most would now consider completely logical; that is those that were proved repeatable.

If there is a repeatable way to reach the goal of Alchemy, then does this not become a science, perhaps Chemistry?

Chemistry is a science and science asks for proof, if this proof can be exhibited within Alchemy then surely the alchemical process becomes scientific...perhaps not chemistry, maybe under a category all of its own.

What can a person studying a subject bring to the table that any other studying the same cannot? Obviously there are levels of understanding, but I am talking in general.

I posted an article, which I have used many times to give an example to my train of thought here, it is just the Index (http://www1.lsbu.ac.uk/water/water_sitemap.html) that facinates me...Just take a scroll through the index on water, ignoring the fact that there are many sub-indexes and ask yourself if you have covered as much information on Alchemy as you would have to, to fully understand the subject of water; something we all take for granted.

There is no sentence of death for studying water as there has been with the study of Alchemy. Water is a fundamental material for our survival and as such I am sure there have been fortunes spent on its studies with untold amounts of equipment and millions of people involved; yet still there lie unanswered questions on the subject. How do these people's studies differ from any Alchemist?

What hope is there of ever knowing you have understood the ancient texts until you or someone you know reach that final destination of the alchemical goal?

Having said all of this I do possess a feeling that lies outside of the realm of logic, but this has nothing to offer anyone in this version of reality. ;) Perhaps that is why it can only be described through allegory and symbolism as no words have been created to explain it and are unlikely to be in the future; hence words like Mercury, Sulphur and Salt, which have no alchemical meaning at all in the real sense of those words.


Ghislain

Absolutely great post and all to insightful!! Fantastic stuff Gishlain...fantastic!!!

zoas23
09-09-2016, 02:40 PM
I wanted to ask a question of zoas23 on a statement he made in Alchemical Symbolism in Politics (http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?4844-Alchemical-Symbolism-in-Politics/page4). I thought that question would be most suitably posted here in this thread.

What is this "sense" that does not come from logic? Aren't all new scientific discoveries found by people thinking outside of the box, moving away from that which would be labelled as logic at that time, but which most would now consider completely logical; that is those that were proved repeatable.

If there is a repeatable way to reach the goal of Alchemy, then does this not become a science, perhaps Chemistry?

Since I like genealogies, I'd say that I was simply quoting Wittgenstein... but I'll go a bit further. I think I've already posted this same thing a few times here.

The epitome of classical Philosophy came with Plato... Plato thought that the epistemology could somehow reach at least a part of the truth (Aristotle was convinced that the Ratio / Reason / Logic could arrive to the definitive truth).

The first one to make an interesting argument against these ideas was, in my opinion, Nicholas of Kues... in his book about the concept of the "Not-Other". The main idea of Nicholas was quite simple: if we follow the ways of logic, then the truth or falsehood of any proposition is never defined by the proposition itself, but by another proposition, by something else.

Thus he *invented* a definition for God: God is the great exception: the definition that defines itself as an a priori. God is the "not-other" that gives sense to all the propositions "below" God, which are all "others".

In essence, any proposition (any fact is a proposition) is a tautology.

Wittgenstein, using the tools of modern formal logic demonstrated the same thing, though in a more formal manner.

This is Wittgenstein "condensed":


1. The world is everything that is the case.

2.1 We make to ourselves pictures of facts.

2.11 The picture presents the facts in logical space, the existence and non-existence of atomic facts.

2.12 The picture is a model of reality.

2.18 What every picture, of whatever form, must have in common with reality in order to be able to represent it at all -- rightly or falsely -- is the logical form, that is, the form of reality.

2.19 The logical picture can depict the world.

2.223 In order to discover whether the picture is true or false we must compare it with reality.

2.224 It cannot be discovered from the picture alone whether it is true or false.

2.225 There is no picture which is a priori true.

3 The logical picture of the facts is the thought.

3.332 No proposition can say anything about itself, because the propositional sign cannot be contained in itself (that is the whole "theory of types").

3.333 A function cannot be its own argument, because the functional sign already contains the prototype of its own argument and it cannot contain itself. (...)

4.11 The totality of true propositions is the total natural science (or the totality of the natural sciences).

5.6 The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.

4.112 The object of philosophy is the logical clarification of thoughts.
Philosophy is not a theory but an activity.
A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations.
The result of philosophy is not a number of "philosophical propositions", but to make propositions clear.
Philosophy should make clear and delimit sharply the thoughts which otherwise are, as it were, opaque and blurred.

4.113 Philosophy limits the disputable sphere of natural science.

5.61 Logic fills the world: the limits of the world are also its limits.
We cannot therefore say in logic: This and this there is in the world, that there is not.
For that would apparently presuppose that we exclude certain possibilities, and this cannot be the case since otherwise logic must get outside the limits of the world: that is, if it could consider these limits from the other side also.
What we cannot think, that we cannot think: we cannot therefore say what we cannot think.

5.62 This remark provides a key to the question, to what extent solipsism is a truth.
In fact what solipsism means, is quite correct, only it cannot be said, but it shows itself.
That the world is my world, shows itself in the fact that the limits of the language (the language which I understand) mean the limits of my world.

5.63 I am the world. (The microcosm.)

5.64 Here we see that solipsism strictly carried out coincides with pure realism. The I in solipsism shrinks to an extensionless point and there remains the reality co-ordinated with it.

6.1 The propositions of logic are tautologies.

6.11 The propositions of logic therefore say nothing. (They are the analytical propositions.)

6.41 The sense of the world must lie outside the world. In the world everything is as it is and happens as it does happen. In it there is no value -- and if there were, it would be of no value.
If there is a value which is of value, it must lie outside all happening and being-so. For all happening and being-so is accidental.
What makes it non-accidental cannot lie in the world, for otherwise this would again be accidental.
It must lie outside the world.

[NOTE: the justification of this idea was previously expressed in " 3.332 No proposition can say anything about itself, because the propositional sign cannot be contained in itself"]

6.42 Hence also there can be no ethical propositions.
Propositions cannot express anything higher.

6.43 If good or bad willing changes the world, it can only change the limits of the world, not the facts; not the things that can be expressed in language.
In brief, the world must thereby become quite another, it must so to speak wax or wane as a whole.
The world of the happy is quite another than that of the unhappy.

6.44 Not how the world is, is the mystical, but that it is.

6.45 The contemplation of the world sub specie aeterni is its contemplation as a limited whole.
The feeling that the world is a limited whole is the mystical feeling.


6.52 We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be asnwered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all. Of course there is then no question left, and just this is the answer.

6.521 The solution of the problem of life is seen in the vanishing of this problem.
(Is not this the reason why men to whom after long doubting the sense of life became clear, could not then say wherein this sense consisted?)

6.522 There is indeed the inexpressible. This shows itself; it is the mystical.

6.54 My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.)
He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly.


Another way of saying this whole thing:
The limits of logic are the limits of language.
The limits of language are the limits of the Being.
The SENSE of the Being can't be contained "inside" the Being.
The Non-Being (the "uncreated non-Being") above the Being CAN'T BE expressed by language or logic.
Natural Sciences are limited by Logic.
The mystical experience can only be expressed as an allegory (climb through the WORDS of the allegory, but throw the ladder away once you have climbed).
Science can say a lot of things about the world, but it will NEVER be able to explain the sense of the world... or the sense of life. This isn't a technological problem, but a logical problem, an epistemological problem.

This is also why I don't see the point of having an excessive materialistic view of alchemy.. since Alchemy is meant to investigate the sense of the world... and such thing involves the mystical experience that transcends the realm of the "being".

The fact that alchemy has always been filled with allegories, metaphors, etc... some people says that it's because the point was to hide something. My point of view is that the texts could not have been written as formal propositions with a "clear language", because their intention has always been to express something that transcends language.

Thus I think that alchemy is not a pseudo-chemistry... not even an "alternative chemistry"... alchemy and chemistry may have lots of procedures in common, but their OBJECT OF STUDY is absolutely different.

An artistic movie and an echography have mostly the same "format"... and yet a technician in echographies is NOT making an experimental art film. It would be absurd to state that an echography is a pseudo-art... it's not even an art.

The limits of chemistry are logical, not technological.

Having said such thing, I have nothing against chemistry. I don't even think it's "worst" than alchemy... it's the same difference that exists between echographies and art films... they are different things, but both of them have a purpose.

Chasm
09-09-2016, 03:17 PM
Thank You Zoas23,
I felt you possessed something important. This must be it. I will save this so that I can read it again and again as to absorb it.
I'm curious, does this awareness not leave you feeling isolated?

Ghislain
09-09-2016, 05:46 PM
One of the things I like to recite when among friends is this...

A slight inclination of the cranium is of equal effectiveness as
the spasmodic contraction of one optic to an equine quadruped
devoid of its visionary capacity.

I get some very funny looks, but it is just the same as saying...

A nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse.

Why use a few simple words when you can use many complicated ones? ;)

I am not a Philosopher, but I think I get the gist of Wittgenstein's interpretation of what cannot be known. I would not, and possibly could not, make an argument against Wittgenstein and so I will have to leave it to a post I found on a forum talking about Wittgenstein by a person calling him/her self Jerubaal . The first part in bold represents my feelings on the matter.


I'm not trained in this modern philosophical jargon, in fact I eschew it, but I think I'll be helpful
because often the best way to identify and reconcile with an unsettling feeling is to separate
yourself from the argument a bit. Don't allow yourself to become a slave to the argumentation.
Think about the conclusions and ramifications of the arguments and ask yourself if that's what you
think is correct. I'll try to ask some questions that clarify his position and identify problematic
elements and maybe throw in some suggestions of my own.

I think that most people would agree with Wittgenstein's most famous arguments about language
shaping the way we think and not merely being a neutral medium. To what extent does this color
our ability to communicate though? Socrates/Plato frequently encountered people who couldn't
precisely explain what they believed or why they believed it. That is not the same thing as saying
that philosophical minds can't agree upon a fixed definition for things like 'vitrtue' or 'knowledge'
and that's Socrates' goal in many dialogues. I hope that what Wittgenstein means is that we should
attempt to break down these differences in definition in like manner because...

If he denies that language can be used to communicate about abstract things in any meaningful
fashion, because it's impossible to know how disparate the definitions are, then..

1)He's essentially banished these concepts. How can you enforce virtue when you're not sure that
you're even talking about the same thing.

2) He's established a solipsism, and communication no longer matters because anything external can
be regarded at best as useful stimuli.

All in all, I find that position a bit silly. I have no idea if what you think is blue is the same as what I
think is blue, but if I point to a blue carpet, you will most likely agree with me that it's blue.

As a political theorist, it's so amusing to me to watch people try to sweep the world under the rug in
one fell swoop. Does he really think that there are no serious controversies (for lack of a better
word) to be had in philosophy? That it's all just one big misunderstanding?


My point was that the same theoretical thinking can be applied to Lab Alchemy as it is to any other science; whether one chooses to do this is personal preference. If there is a “quintessence” that can be created to open up metals, then there is a process of doing this and that would be logical would it not? Is there a difference between doing this and say making potassium nitrate from potassium hydroxide and ammonium nitrate?

I believe Alchemy to be entirely philosophical, but that’s my choice and judging by my lack of philosophical expertise maybe not the best choice ;)

Ghislain

zoas23
09-09-2016, 11:28 PM
Thank You Zoas23,
I felt you possessed something important. This must be it. I will save this so that I can read it again and again as to absorb it.
I'm curious, does this awareness not leave you feeling isolated?

What I wrote is mostly what Wittgenstein thought.
If we ever make the "Alchemy Forums Anthology II"... I think I will translate a non published essay I have on gnoseology that goes from the Pythagorean school to Wittgenstein.

The question is quite off topic, but the answer is "NO". I've seen many times the fatal idea that knowledge and "spiritual evolution" (whatever that means) leads to isolation... and people feeling even proud of being isolated.

Isolation is, for me, probably the most demiurgic feeling a person can experience.

The New Testament and the Christian Gnostic texts have an interesting example: Jesus was often hanging around with several persons... he had no problems in talking to those who were considered "untouchable" (as to use a Hindu term) like the Tax Collector.

Or you have the famous episode of the prostitute that people wanted to stone to death... the morale of that story would be that he mostly said: "So what the fuck is wrong with you??? Do you feel you are better than this person because she's a prostitute and woman?? Well, you are not better, but probably worst... so cut the crap and leave her in peace".

I'm very far from being a Christian fanatic who is quoting the Bible again and again... but this specific attitude, I like it a lot.



One of the things I like to recite when among friends is this...

A slight inclination of the cranium is of equal effectiveness as
the spasmodic contraction of one optic to an equine quadruped
devoid of its visionary capacity.

I get some very funny looks, but it is just the same as saying...

A nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse.

Why use a few simple words when you can use many complicated ones? ;)

I am not a Philosopher, but I think I get the gist of Wittgenstein's interpretation of what cannot be known. I would not, and possibly could not, make an argument against Wittgenstein and so I will have to leave it to a post I found on a forum talking about Wittgenstein by a person calling him/her self Jerubaal . The first part in bold represents my feelings on the matter.



Socrates/Plato frequently encountered people who couldn't
precisely explain what they believed or why they believed it. That is not the same thing as saying that philosophical minds can't agree upon a fixed definition for things like 'vitrtue' or 'knowledge' and that's Socrates' goal in many dialogues. I hope that what Wittgenstein means is that we should attempt to break down these differences in definition in like manner because...

If he denies that language can be used to communicate about abstract things in any meaningful fashion, because it's impossible to know how disparate the definitions are, then..

1)He's essentially banished these concepts. How can you enforce virtue when you're not sure that you're even talking about the same thing.

2) He's established a solipsism, and communication no longer matters because anything external canbe regarded at best as useful stimuli.

Thy *friend* Jerubaal doesn't really get what Wittgenstein meant.

I'll put it in an easier way:

Philosophy and Science are constrained by the realm of logic and language.
The limits of logic are finite, the limits of existence are infinite.
Philosophy and Science have to work with a precise language, because if they don't, they become meaningless.
Thus Wittgenstein completely expelled "metaphysics" from the realm of Science and Philosophy... and, at the same time, explained WHY Science and Philosophy can't answer the most basic questions we have, such as "Why are we here?", "Why do we exist?", "What's the meaning of life?".

Nietzsche already saw these problems when he wrote his History of an Error:



HOW THE ‘REAL WORLD’ FINALLY BECAME A FABLE

History of an Error

1. The real world attainable for the wise man, the pious man, the virtuous man—he lives in it, he is it.

(Most ancient form of the idea, relatively clever, simple, convincing. Paraphrase of the proposition: ‘I, Plato, am the truth.’)

2. The real world unattainable for now, but promised to the wise man, the pious man, the virtuous man (‘to the sinner who repents’).

(Progress of the idea: it becomes more cunning, more insidious, more incomprehensible—it becomes a woman, it becomes Christian…)

3. The real world unattainable, unprovable, unpromisable, but the mere thought of it a consolation, an obligation, an imperative.

(The old sun in the background, but seen through mist and scepticism; the idea becomes sublime, pale, Nordic, Königsbergian.)

4. The real world—unattainable? At any rate unattained. And since unattained also unknown. Hence no consolation, redemption, obligation either: what could something unknown oblige us to do? …

(Break of day. First yawn of reason. Cock-crow of positivism.)

5. The ‘real world’—an idea with no further use, no longer even an obligation—an idea become useless, superfluous, therefore a refuted idea: let us do away with it!

(Broad daylight; breakfast; return of bon sens and cheerfulness; Plato’s shameful blush; din from all free spirits.)

6. The real world—we have done away with it: what world was left? the apparent one, perhaps? … But no! with the real world we have also done away with the apparent one!

(Noon; moment of the shortest shadow; end of the longest error; pinnacle of humanity; INCIPIT ZARATHUSTRA.)


Of course, Nietzsche was far from being a systematic thinker... but the point 4 of his history of an error shows the limits of Science. The infamous "Death of God" doesn't have much to do with theology, but with the ancient aristotelian dream of arriving to "The Truth" by using logic. I do not see it as a theological statement, but as a gnoseological statement.

Wittgenstein was very systematic and clearly showed the limits of Philosophy and Science... but OPENED a fantastic door to a different realm, the realm of MYSTICISM, the realm of the SENSE which can't be expressed by words, BUT at the same time he clearly stated that WORDS can guide us there, under the condition that we throw them away once we are there. Thus allegories, parables make sense... but the cost of their sense is understanding that they are like a "ladder" that you have to throw away after climbing it.

This is for me the realm of Alchemy... and the realm that Chemistry (or science) can't touch.



My point was that the same theoretical thinking can be applied to Lab Alchemy as it is to any other science; whether one chooses to do this is personal preference. If there is a “quintessence” that can be created to open up metals, then there is a process of doing this and that would be logical would it not? Is there a difference between doing this and say making potassium nitrate from potassium hydroxide and ammonium nitrate?


IF you believe that the final aim of alchemy is, say, to make gold... then you are right.

If you think that the final aim of alchemy is to try to answer the fundamental questions of existence, then it's impossible to reduce Alchemy to the language of Chemistry.

This thread seriously needs a song!!! :p


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqV-kHTPFzM


HOUSE OF LIES

First floor:
Here live the blind
Who believe what they see
And the deaf
Who believe what they hear
Strapped to a kitchen stool
Sits a lunatic who believes
Everything that he can touch
(his hands lie in his lap)

Second floor:
Roll to roll
In wood-chip wallpaper
Tenants stand around in the corridors
Contemplating the walls attentively
Searching on it strip by strip
For printing or spelling errors
They couldn't even decipher their own names

To the next floor:
Which, oh wonder! Was never completed
And can only be reached by the stairs

_
_
_

Here lie errors belonging to the company
With this they tile the floors
Where none are permitted to tread

Fourth floor:
Here lives the architect
He goes on with his plan
This building crammed full of ideas
It reaches from funda- to firmament
And from fundament to the company

At the ground floor:
There are located four doors
They lead
Directly outdoors
Or better stated, to the cornerstone
There, who wants to can wait
The concrete comes at 12:00
Laying the cornerstone!
Laying the cornerstone, lies, lies, lies!
Trains of thought are painted over
In head-height brown
Infamous or Catholic violet
For better orientation

Attic floor:
It has some damage
An old man sits on the roof truss
Dead angels are scattered on the floor
(their faces match his)
He holds a gun between his knees
He aims it at his mouth
And in the skull
Through the skull
And out of the skull, outward
In the top of the roof
Permeates the bullet

God has shot himself
An attic floor can be expanded
God has shot himself
An attic floor can be expanded

EPILOGUE

Basement:
This is a cellar
Here do I live
This here is dark
moist and pleasant
This here is a womb

Ghislain
09-10-2016, 07:40 AM
zoas23 we are approaching the same destination from different directions.

What you are trying to convey is the reason I started my post in the thread "Ayahuasca Report (http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?1298-Ayahuasca-Report/page7)" with...



Where do I begin, for it matters not what I put into words here it will limit/inhibit the truth of what I wish to convey. I will try, but, as Dev has already stated, this is something that has to be experienced by the individual; keep in mind that words are created for this world they are not needed beyond it and trust me they are limited.

This thread is asking if Alchemy may be a Pseudo-Chemistry and I believe that for those seeking to create a stone to transmute base metals to gold or a tonic for eternal life, that is exactly what it is.

Dare I say, there is no gold and life is eternal!

It all depends on how you look at it.

Ghislain

JDP
09-10-2016, 09:25 AM
If there is a repeatable way to reach the goal of Alchemy, then does this not become a science, perhaps Chemistry?

No. If it was really "chemistry" then why haven't the chemists discovered the Stone? Obviously the series of operations that lead to the Stone are unbeknownst to them. In fact, chemists in general vehemently deny that the Stone can exist, therefore alchemy is but a "dream". "Alchemy" can never be "chemistry", or vice versa. It's a historical contradiction. You may in fact say that "chemistry" was "born" out of a rebellion against alchemy and its assertions.

Note: this alchemy vs chemistry difference has NOTHING to do with "supernatural" forces, or "spiritualism", or Jedi-like mind powers, as alchemy enthusiasts in modern times tend to think. It's a difference in goals and techniques. Both disciplines use lab operations. That's what they have in common. But alchemy is more restrictive than chemistry, it handles a much more limited number of substances (the vast majority of substances in our planet do NOT work and have nothing to do with making the Stone), and its goals and techniques are also different from those of chemistry.


Chemistry is a science and science asks for proof, if this proof can be exhibited within Alchemy then surely the alchemical process becomes scientific...perhaps not chemistry, maybe under a category all of its own.

Yes, because proof is not an exclusive property of chemistry or physics. 16th-18th century "chymistry" (notice the archaic spelling, NOT "chemistry") in fact was quite abundant with alleged "proofs" of transmutation (the majority of these so-called proofs are either honest errors or total baloney and do not work as claimed, but some of them are quite real and do give very interesting results; just don't expect to become a millionaire, because all of them cost more to carry out than the value of the small amounts of silver or gold you obtain from them), what the alchemists themselves neglected to provide since they generally did not believe that transmutation was possible without the Stone (so what would be the point of trying to "prove" transmutation to their readers? It would be tantamount with having to reveal in a totally clear manner how to make the Stone! Something they obviously had no inclination whatsoever to do.) The "chymists" were also interested in the Stone, but unlike most alchemists they were also very interested in other types of transmutation. With this different mentality than that of the alchemist came a bunch of claims said to "prove" transmutation.

JDP
09-10-2016, 09:31 AM
zoas23 we are approaching the same destination from different directions.

What you are trying to convey is the reason I started my post in the thread "Ayahuasca Report (http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?1298-Ayahuasca-Report/page7)" with...



This thread is asking if Alchemy may be a Pseudo-Chemistry and I believe that for those seeking to create a stone to transmute base metals to gold or a tonic for eternal life, that is exactly what it is.

Dare I say, there is no gold and life is eternal!

It all depends on how you look at it.

Ghislain

But then again, since empirical facts do not give a damn about "how you look at it" and just "are", gold is very real and life is indeed perishable. "There is no gold and life is eternal" is wishful thinking that so far has no proof whatsoever going for it.

Florius Frammel
09-13-2016, 04:57 PM
So? Neither one of them is needed for understanding or conceiving what metallic transmutation is. Alchemists usually followed or elaborated on Aristotelian ideas. Metals were seen as concrete bodies, thought up to be composed by nature out of the "prime matter" and "four elements" that made up the whole universe, but so stable in their composition that they were very resistant to change. There is no "ambiguity" whatsoever regarding what alchemists meant by transmutation. Base metals like lead, tin, copper and iron were very easily distinguished from noble ones like silver and gold. Since antiquity a number of tests had been accumulating to easily identify these substances. Base metals did not resist calcination, cementation, cupellation, exposure to acid vapors (specially vinegar), etc. Noble metals did. Such properties were the result of the "accidental" qualities of each metal. So changing lead into silver, for example, meant getting rid of all those "accidental" qualities that distinguished lead and inserting the "accidental" qualities that characterized silver in their place. You don't need more modern concepts about "atoms" or "elements" to dabble in the subject of metallic transmutation.

Another thing: Since even Aristotle himself held some types of "corpuscular" theories (see, for example, his "Meteorologica") about matter many alchemists also held "corpuscular" theories about matter too. Read, for example, the Latin "Geber", who many times gives corpuscular explanations, including for transmutation. So even this is not unique to chemistry & physics.



Not at all. Most alchemists and even "puffers" were well aware that things like calcination or solution in acids did not really alter metals, despite the outward changes in appearance, and they could be recovered intact.

I agree with you when dealing with metal transmutation.
The word transmutation nowadays is bond to protones. Therefore it is indeed linked to "modern elements" and "atoms". Since in older times they didn't have an understanding of protones, they must have had a different definition of transmutation.

For example the results of the Kervran experiments (legit or not) could never be seen as a transmutation by the old alchemists in the modern definition. They didn't even know about potassium. And the transmutation of nitrogen to carbonmonoxyde would be recognized as a similar result as producing hydrogen and oxygen out of water (which as far as I know) they didn't know too.

Therefore I think that the word transmutation nowadays must mean something different than 100 years ago. Remember, not long ago they said that transmutation is impossible in any case. We know since the discovery of radioactivity that it is not.
And who knows what scientists say about that topic in hundred years from now.

JDP
09-13-2016, 08:57 PM
I agree with you when dealing with metal transmutation.
The word transmutation nowadays is bond to protones. Therefore it is indeed linked to "modern elements" and "atoms". Since in older times they didn't have an understanding of protones, they must have had a different definition of transmutation.

For example the results of the Kervran experiments (legit or not) could never be seen as a transmutation by the old alchemists in the modern definition. They didn't even know about potassium. And the transmutation of nitrogen to carbonmonoxyde would be recognized as a similar result as producing hydrogen and oxygen out of water (which as far as I know) they didn't know too.

Therefore I think that the word transmutation nowadays must mean something different than 100 years ago. Remember, not long ago they said that transmutation is impossible in any case. We know since the discovery of radioactivity that it is not.
And who knows what scientists say about that topic in hundred years from now.


Obviously, the alchemists did not know many so-called elements that we now know about, including metals like sodium or potassium. But the metals (iron, copper, lead, tin, mercury, silver, gold since antiquity; and later on zinc and bismuth) and metalloids (antimony and arsenic) they knew were recognized by their "accidental" qualities. Thus lead was able to be calcined in the fire to a yellow or red powder or "calx", usually called "litharge" and "minium", respectively (lead monoxide and tetroxide according to more modern nomenclature), for example, while gold could not be reduced to the same condition by the same means. These were different qualities. By noting these different qualities, metals could be distinguished one from the other (besides the even more obvious differences, like color or malleability, for example.) Theoretically, however, the metals were all in the same "species" or "family" of substances, and all of them were compounded by nature from the "four elements", or from the "two principles" ("sulfur" and "mercury"; later on expanded to three by adding a supposed "salt" principle.) My point here, as always, is that empirical facts remain the same for all observers, what varies is how the observer attempts to "explain" these empirical facts. The modern physicist and chemist invokes theories about "electrons" and "protons" to try to explain these differences between the supposed "elements" (which includes all the metals and metalloids known to the alchemists), while the alchemist invoked theories about "prima materia", the "four elements", the "two principles", and "accidental qualities" to explain the differences between the metals/metalloids they knew about.

Florius Frammel
09-14-2016, 06:25 AM
Modern chemists make a difference between transformation and transmutation. In both cases a change of accidental qualities can be observed. But whereas a transformation like for example the reaction of iron and sulfur to iron sulfide, which has completely other qualities then the educts, is a recombination of atoms, the transmutation is a change of numbers of protons.
Now when you don't work with a system like that, how can you make a difference when just observing the accidental qualities?
In one reaction you get iron sulfide with different accidental qualities and in another let's say gold out of lead with changing accidental properties.
I just can't imagine they could really make a difference just by observing as the observation in general(changing qualities) is the same in both cases.
The solution is: They defined transmutation differently than we do.

Another example:
Some alchemists thought the human body would be a transformation apparatus as it "transmutes" for example matter from the vegetable kingdom to the animal kingdom. And when one dies his body is "transformed" to the mineral kingdom, simply said.
Now all these processes nowadays are considered to be transformations and not transmutations (except the dubious Kervran experiments).

zoas23
09-14-2016, 07:47 AM
I feel the point is being missed.
There's a very nice film called "Kafka" (1991, directed by Steven Soderbergh... Jeremy Irons plays the role of Kafka).

It's not really a biographic film, but rather a mix of different tales and novels by Kafka (though strongly based on "The Castle").

In this film, Kafka manages to get into the Castle, which represents the control system of the State and finds out that the State is experimenting with Neurology to create zombie-like humans who simply obey instructions. The main responsible for the experiments is someone called "Doctor Murnau" (of course, a homage to the film director who filmed the best "nightmares").

There is a scene I love in which Kafka confronts Dr. Murnau whilst Murnau is in front of a tied man with a hole in the upper part of his head and a huge microscope is being used to analyze his brain. So after being confronted by Kafka, they have this dialogue:


Doctor Murnau: A crowd is easier to control than an individual. A crowd has a common purpose. The purpose of the individual is always in question.

Franz Kafka: That's what you're trying to eliminate, isn't it? Everything that makes one human being different from another. But you'll *never*, *never* reach a man's soul through a lens.

Doctor Murnau: That rather depends on which end of the microscope you're on, doesn't it?

The dialogue has, of course, political implications... but I am interested in its epistemological implications. Can you investigate a man's soul using a microscope?
Just like the Kafka of the movie, I think you can't.

So, for me, the BIG ISSUE is the sense... and not the jargon... and not the belief in "transmutations".

Chemistry is strictly attached to the empirical world... thus is unable to answer questions such as: "What's the meaning of life?", "Why are we here?", "Which one is the ultimate sense of the reality we perceive?". Those questions don't even belong to the field of Chemistry.

The BEAUTY of alchemy is that the most interesting things happen OUTSIDE the flask... Even if you manage to produce a true *miracle* INSIDE the flask, the *miracle* that happens OUTSIDE the flask will be bigger... That's why alchemy can't be reduced to chemistry (or physics).

Modern physics have managed to turn lead into gold (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_transmutation#Modern_physics)... They faced the "problem" that the process of doing such thing under their procedure is more expensive than the cost of the gold they created, but such thing does not matter... the thing is that they DID IT. Needless to say that it's likely that in the future they will find a way to reduce the cost of the process and make it profitable (it would not be truly surprising)...

And yet the BIG questions remain unanswered by physics or chemistry... and that's not going to change in the future... because it's not a technological problem, but an epistemological problem... an ontological problem.

If you manage to "get out of the flask" for a second, you'll get what I mean.
If you remain inside the flask, then alchemy is an alternative chemistry with a bizarre jargon and strange procedures... and not much more.

In short: get out of the flask!!!

Obligatory quote of Austin Spare:

https://s22.postimg.io/sgz0brtu9/Captura_de_pantalla_2016_09_14_a_las_4_43_18_a_m.p ng

https://s22.postimg.io/s2xoc69qp/Captura_de_pantalla_2016_09_14_a_las_4_43_57_a_m.p ng

Florius Frammel
09-14-2016, 08:04 AM
@zoas23: I agree with you 100%!

Nevertheless we were discussing about definitions, which change from time to time. For example besides the often unclear metaphorical texts of the alchemists there may often be words which have a different definition nowadays, what makes reading even more difficult.
Of course any matter, spirit or soul doesn't care which words we attract to them, but in communication whith each other it's quite important to understand what someone means. That's why you need to have definitions. This definitions and the words change, while the phenomena or the observation stay the same.

JDP
09-14-2016, 02:20 PM
Modern chemists make a difference between transformation and transmutation. In both cases a change of accidental qualities can be observed. But whereas a transformation like for example the reaction of iron and sulfur to iron sulfide, which has completely other qualities then the educts, is a recombination of atoms, the transmutation is a change of numbers of protons.
Now when you don't work with a system like that, how can you make a difference when just observing the accidental qualities?
In one reaction you get iron sulfide with different accidental qualities and in another let's say gold out of lead with changing accidental properties.
I just can't imagine they could really make a difference just by observing as the observation in general(changing qualities) is the same in both cases.
The solution is: They defined transmutation differently than we do.

Another example:
Some alchemists thought the human body would be a transformation apparatus as it "transmutes" for example matter from the vegetable kingdom to the animal kingdom. And when one dies his body is "transformed" to the mineral kingdom, simply said.
Now all these processes nowadays are considered to be transformations and not transmutations (except the dubious Kervran experiments).

Chemists today still use "qualities" to distinguish metals (and other "elements"), it is hardly something that only the alchemists did with the methods and metals known to them. Qualitative chemistry is in fact all based on the properties of some "elements", specially metals/metalloids, to react in certain ways with some reagents, while others react differently with the same reagents. For example, you can easily distinguish lead from bismuth by simply diluting a solution of either metal in nitric acid. The excess water will not cause any precipitate on the lead solution, while it will cause the bismuth to form an insoluble white precipitate of a basic nitrate. So once again, you don't need any theories about "protons" and "electrons" to easily distinguish metals one from the other. This can be very easily done by purely empirical methods. The concept of transmutation does not need at all any of these modern theories about matter. Alchemists and "chymists" certainly did not need them to develop the concept. They were well aware of the obvious differences between the metals they knew about. So when you changed, say, lead into silver, the artificial silver was expected to acquire the "qualities" of silver and answer to the "tests" for that metal (viz. it does not easily tarnish like lead, it is harder than lead, it is less dense than lead, it requires a much stronger heat to melt than lead, it does not easily corrode by exposure to the "sharp" vapors of things like vinegar, it resists cupellation, etc.) and not to retain the characteristics of lead (viz. it tarnishes more readily than silver, it is softer than silver, it is more dense than silver, it requires a much lower heat to melt, it is easily corroded by the "sharp" vapors of things like vinegar, it does not resist cupellation, etc.) That's all that really matters for this topic.

In the example that you gave regarding a superficial change of "qualities", like melting sulfur and iron to form a sulfide, the product formed was obviously not a metal, so the alchemist would not have been fooled into thinking that they had made gold or silver by such a simple procedure. The iron sulfide does not have the same "qualities" as those metals. Furthermore, most of these superficial changes can be easily reverted back to the metals that were used in the procedures. For example, in the example I used above, very well known to the alchemists, you can calcine lead into either a yellow or red "calx". But these two substances, apparently so different than the lead they came from, can be very easily reduced back to metallic lead simply by strongly heating them with a carbon-rich substance (charcoal, flours, fats, oils.) In another thread it was discussed how it took centuries and centuries for someone (Lavoisier) to finally be able to come up with an "explanation" that could fully accommodate all the observed facts regarding such changes in calcined metals (change in appearance, change in weight, reversibility to metallic form), but that did not stop the alchemists and "chymists" one bit from being well aware that the lead was not really "transmuted" into something else, as you could always recover it. The theories and speculations they came up with (like the metals "losing" some sort of "volatile principle", usually called "sulphur", and later on called "phlogiston") could not explain all the observed facts (this theory specifically could NOT satisfactorily explain why the metallic calxes were actually HEAVIER than the metals they came from; if the theory was true, then one should expect the metallic calxes to be LIGHTER than the metals they came from, since they were supposedly "losing" something during the calcination), but that did not stop the facts from being observed and known. The Latin "Geber", for example, was well aware that the calxes of lead and tin do not have the same weight as the metals they came from, yet he himself tries to explain the effect of calcination on the base metals as the "loss" of a "combustible sulfur" that supposedly is part of their composition. The reason why the alchemists and "chymists" were not able to come up with a better explanation for these observed facts is simply because oxygen was unknown to them. Yet none of them was fooled into thinking that lead and tin had somehow been "transmuted" into gold or silver by just a simple calcination. They knew that such "calxes" could be reduced back to the metals they came from. Once again we can notice a great difference between empirical facts and theories/speculations designed to "explain" them. The second ones are not necessary at all for the first ones to be observed and noticed.

Florius Frammel
09-14-2016, 03:23 PM
I agree with you as I have written before when dealing with metals. I also agree with what you write about Lavoisier. Of course they could recognize the metals by their qualities.
Seems we have exactly the problem I described to zoas23.
Modern definition of transmutation covers all elements, whereas the alchemical transmutation is all about the then known metals and especially gold (and silver).

zoas23
09-14-2016, 07:26 PM
@zoas23: I agree with you 100%!

Nevertheless we were discussing about definitions, which change from time to time. For example besides the often unclear metaphorical texts of the alchemists there may often be words which have a different definition nowadays, what makes reading even more difficult.
Of course any matter, spirit or soul doesn't care which words we attract to them, but in communication whith each other it's quite important to understand what someone means. That's why you need to have definitions. This definitions and the words change, while the phenomena or the observation stay the same.

It is impossible to disagree with the idea that classical alchemy uses a non-scientific jargon... and that this jargon is often confusing, ambiguous, etc.
So, yeah... we may read something like "take some saturn and..."... well, the discussion about if this "saturn" is Lead, Galena or something else begin. We both know it.

Some alchemical texts have a very "technical" nature (in the sense that they are mostly giving a "recipe")... maybe those texts could be "translated" to modern chemical terms.

AND YET the question for me remains the same: "Is alchemy a pseudo-chemistry?". My answer is that it isn't... and it's not exactly because it uses procedures which are unknown to chemistry, but because it transcends philosophy itself... whilst chemistry is "below" philosophy (in the modern definition of the word).

Awani
09-14-2016, 09:46 PM
It is impossible to disagree with the idea that classical alchemy uses a non-scientific jargon... and that this jargon is often confusing, ambiguous, etc.
So, yeah... we may read something like "take some saturn and..."... well, the discussion about if this "saturn" is Lead, Galena or something else begin. We both know it.

Some alchemical texts have a very "technical" nature (in the sense that they are mostly giving a "recipe")... maybe those texts could be "translated" to modern chemical terms.

AND YET the question for me remains the same: "Is alchemy a pseudo-chemistry?". My answer is that it isn't... and it's not exactly because it uses procedures which are unknown to chemistry, but because it transcends philosophy itself... whilst chemistry is "below" philosophy (in the modern definition of the word).

I agree and disagree at the same time.

A very spiritual person that is also a chemist could do the same thing. Meaning he doesn't subscribe to alchemy at all, only to "real" science and chemistry... and looks at whatever he does from a spiritual perspective (which is not a contradiction as some of the greatest fathers of science all believed in God).

Currently science is closer to creating eternal life (http://hplusmagazine.com/2015/10/08/reversing-alzheimers-by-lengthening-telomeres/) than alchemy ever has been. Why? IMO because alchemy wasn't speaking literarily. So basically the way I see it is that if alchemy is taken literarily it is just pseudo-chemistry... if it is not taken literarily it is alchemy.

:cool:

JDP
09-14-2016, 11:47 PM
AND YET the question for me remains the same: "Is alchemy a pseudo-chemistry?". My answer is that it isn't... and it's not exactly because it uses procedures which are unknown to chemistry, but because it transcends philosophy itself... whilst chemistry is "below" philosophy (in the modern definition of the word).

Since the alchemists borrowed heavily from philosophy, specially that of Aristotle, for their theoretical concepts, I don't see how can it "transcend philosophy". More like alchemy strongly depended on it for its attempts at "explaining" the world of reactions between substances that it revolved around. What it boils down to in the end are the empirical facts: Does the Stone exist? Is the transmutation of base metals into gold and silver real? If answered in the positive, both statements are then empirical facts, and therefore the only thing that philosophy can do is attempt to come up with "explanations" for them. Philosophy is subordinate to empirical facts, not the other way around.

zoas23
09-15-2016, 12:20 AM
Since the alchemists borrowed heavily from philosophy, specially that of Aristotle, for their theoretical concepts, I don't see how can it "transcend philosophy". More like alchemy strongly depended on it for its attempts at "explaining" the world of reactions between substances that it revolved around. What it boils down to in the end are the empirical facts: Does the Stone exist? Is the transmutation of base metals into gold and silver real? If answered in the positive, both statements are then empirical facts, and therefore the only thing that philosophy can do is attempt to come up with "explanations" for them. Philosophy is subordinate to empirical facts, not the other way around.

I underline your last sentence, JDP!!! We think different about some issues, but we found a point of agreement, which I love.
Classical philosophy was not always attached to empirical facts (this is especially true for the school of Pythagoras or the Philosophy of Plato), whilst Aristotle was often more "empirical" (though his "Metaphysics" are hardly empirical).

Anyway... your definition of Philosophy is EXACTLY the definition that Wittgenstein had, and that's a definition I love. His idea was that when Philosophy "tried" to transcend the Empirical Facts, it became absolute nonsense... and that what lies BEYOND the Empirical Facts is MYSTICISM, NOT PHILOSOPHY (he LOVED mysticism, but he was a philosopher... and as a philosopher, he believed that Philosophy didn't have the epistemological tools to explain the sense of the world, or the sense of life... that was mysticism for him and something that was "beyond words" or beyond "what can be said").

When I said that chemistry (or the modern "Natural Sciences") is "below" philosophy, I was thinking of Epistemology. Though, of course, the discoveries of the Natural Sciences can influence Epistemology (i.e, positivism, pragmatism, etc... they were born out of the interaction between philosophy and science).

When I say that alchemy is "above" philosophy, I am using the same definition of philosophy that you have used in your last sentence. That's why I also said "GET OUT OF THE FLASK"... meaning "Think outside the flask". I am aware that the idea of producing gold inside a flask was one of the aims of classical alchemy (we can call it a transmutation)... And yet you will find again and again that the classic texts ALSO try to explain the SENSE of the Universe, how the Universe "works" in a metaphysical way, etc... and using the definition of Philosophy that Wittgenstein, you and me share... doing such thing is MYSTICISM and no longer "philosophy". Mysticism is "above" philosophy... and because of the same reason, so is alchemy.

Such thing does NOT mean that alchemy is unrelated to the empirical facts, but I do not see a way of denying that the classical texts wanted to go further and tried to understand the "raison d'être" of the Universe itself. That's what I am trying to say.

Amon
12-02-2016, 01:39 PM
As a chemistry student, i see that the chemist views all reactions as pretty much "mechanized" in the sense that 1+1 always equals 2 whereas in the alchemical world 1+1 largely depends on your state of mind as well. Perhaps the easiest way to explain it from my point of view is that chemistry works with the "macroscopic" aspect of things, that would be matter, alone. It doesn't see any spiritual aspect within the universe. Of course that is a very delicate subject since no man has any true understanding of the universe. I was happy to see one of my proffesors admit the other day that we actually know nothing about the true nature of things, only how they interact with each other. Mass, weight etc. are just terms that if you look into them offer no actual knowledge on the nature of any substance. We don't know what consiousness is either, even though it has been said that consiousness cannot be explained by classic mechanics. We use terms in chemistry like "material waves" which make no sense whatsoever when you look at the definition of a wave. As you get closer to the foundational nature of the universe words are rendered almost useless if not entirely. In short, the alchemist accepts that Mind (Spirit) has effects on the minds (spirits) of other things (like alcohol etc.) and the changes that are caused in this spiritual realm are also bound to manifest to the physical aspect of that entity, meaning, the material substance itself.

JDP
12-02-2016, 04:51 PM
As a chemistry student, i see that the chemist views all reactions as pretty much "mechanized" in the sense that 1+1 always equals 2 whereas in the alchemical world 1+1 largely depends on your state of mind as well. Perhaps the easiest way to explain it from my point of view is that chemistry works with the "macroscopic" aspect of things, that would be matter, alone. It doesn't see any spiritual aspect within the universe. Of course that is a very delicate subject since no man has any true understanding of the universe. I was happy to see one of my proffesors admit the other day that we actually know nothing about the true nature of things, only how they interact with each other. Mass, weight etc. are just terms that if you look into them offer no actual knowledge on the nature of any substance. We don't know what consiousness is either, even though it has been said that consiousness cannot be explained by classic mechanics. We use terms in chemistry like "material waves" which make no sense whatsoever when you look at the definition of a wave. As you get closer to the foundational nature of the universe words are rendered almost useless if not entirely. In short, the alchemist accepts that Mind (Spirit) has effects on the minds (spirits) of other things (like alcohol etc.) and the changes that are caused in this spiritual realm are also bound to manifest to the physical aspect of that entity, meaning, the material substance itself.

If such a thing was true, then there would be no need for so much secrecy in alchemy. Only those with the special ability to manipulate matter and alter the outcome of reactions between substances with this marvelous mind-power would succeed, the rest would fail. Therefore alchemy would have its very own "self-defense" mechanism and only those "worthy" of it would succeed. But this is hardly the case. The alchemists were well aware of the fact that if the process for making the Stone was published in a totally clear manner then virtually anyone except the most inept individuals on the planet would be able to make it, thus why they riddled the subject with all manner of "decknamen", allegories, similes, metaphors, riddles, symbols, etc. to make the subject of very difficult discovery.

Alchemy: Jedi Knights Need NOT Apply! (they better invest their time in performing their amazing mind-tricks on other people's minds, who, unlike matter, can indeed be "tricked" and "influenced" by illusions; just ask any magician, like David Copperfield or David Blaine, who have made very successful careers out of such illusions.)

Ghislain
12-03-2016, 02:08 PM
If such a thing was true, then there would be no need for so much secrecy in alchemy. Only those with the special ability to manipulate matter and alter the outcome of reactions between substances with this marvelous mind-power would succeed, the rest would fail. Therefore alchemy would have its very own "self-defense" mechanism and only those "worthy" of it would succeed. But this is hardly the case. The alchemists were well aware of the fact that if the process for making the Stone was published in a totally clear manner then virtually anyone except the most inept individuals on the planet would be able to make it, thus why they riddled the subject with all manner of "decknamen", allegories, similes, metaphors, riddles, symbols, etc. to make the subject of very difficult discovery.

Many times in the past Alchemy was deemed illegal and punishable by death. There were even times when
it was said that if the Alchemists made too much gold it could damage the economy.

I think that may have been a major reason for the secrecy, plus the desire to keep the process for thenselves as
they had put in the work and were not going to give it away.

It matters not why Alchemy has been kept secret in reference to the two posts above, whether it takes spirituality
or just practical nous the secrecy makes absolutely no difference.

No one can say one way or the other if spirituality is a component of Alchemy, however I believe it is, but some have no
understanding of it so they plod on regardless.

Ghislain

JDP
12-03-2016, 07:05 PM
Many times in the past Alchemy was deemed illegal and punishable by death. There were even times when
it was said that if the Alchemists made too much gold it could damage the economy.

I think that may have been a major reason for the secrecy, plus the desire to keep the process for thenselves as
they had put in the work and were not going to give it away.

It matters not why Alchemy has been kept secret in reference to the two posts above, whether it takes spirituality
or just practical nous the secrecy makes absolutely no difference.

No one can say one way or the other if spirituality is a component of Alchemy, however I believe it is, but some have no
understanding of it so they plod on regardless.

Ghislain

Of course it has everything to do with it and makes all the difference. No one would go through so much trouble to obfuscate any given subject if the subject itself can "defend" itself from "unworthy" seekers. In this case the self-defense mechanism would be the very thing that these modern revisionists claim is the secret for alchemy to work: some special mind/spiritual power/ability. Since most people on the planet will not have such an incredible ability as affecting matter and its reactions just by the power of their will/faith, alchemy would obviously need no further defense from anyone, it would be more than capable of selecting who succeeds and who doesn't by its very own selective nature. But this is hardly the case, as plainly seen by the actions of the very alchemists themselves throughout history. Alchemy has always been protected by its own practitioners, and the means of doing so has been by obfuscating the substances involved in the process. Finding out what these substances are, their proportions, and their treatment, is the real secret of alchemy, not some imaginary "mind/spiritual" power.

Awani
02-05-2017, 12:46 PM
I bring up this argument spiritual vs. practical with practical alchemist Rubaphilos in Episode 108 (http://www.naturalbornalchemist.com/episodes/2017/2/5/episode-108-the-hermes-paradigm). He talks about it at length.

:cool: