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Lecture 5

Lecture 5 - Science - February 10.docx

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Tania Li

February 10, 2014. Lecture 5 – Science Real science arose only once: in Europe… In this regard it is instructive that China, Islam, India, as well as ancient Greece and Rome, had a highly developed alchemy. But, only in Europe did alchemy develop into chemistry. Moreover, only this very exceptional instance offers any basis for suggesting that magic is primitive science. On the other hand, there are substantial grounds for the claim that science developed out of religion, out of the fundamental axiom of Christian theology that God had created a logical universe based on universal laws that could be discovered through reason and observation.-- Rodney Stark (2001) Alchemy and Chemistry • MiddleAges: o 1. Meteorology: the study of sub-lunar matter o 2. Metallurgical assay o 3. Salt refining  Today, salt use is only 3% food  Rest is used industrially; pioneered through alchemy o 4. Dye and pigment o 5. Glass and ceramic improvements o 6. Artificial gemstone o 7. Incendiary weapons o 8. Chemical luminescence o 9. Brewing o 10. Medicine and pharmaceuticals o 11. Transmutation of metals • Why did alchemy become popular with both educated and uneducated in the 16 th century? (thought) o 1. Neo-Platonism  Occult philosophy and magic rooted inAncient Greek writings (Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, etc.) o 2. Medical reform movement  Rooted in observation and experimentation o 3. Industrial potential o 4. Religious esoteric speculation • What institutional shift did alchemy undergo? o 1. From monastery, to court, to medicine  There was no schooling or official institutions for alchemy, practiced and theorized by monks/monastics o 2. The university (early 17 century) • Hermes Trismegistus o Hermes the “Thrice Great”: beginning of alchemic theory/practice/inspiration? o Potentially never actually a single person with this name who existed; could have been a school/group of people responsible for “his” writings; something of a legendary character o Wrote the Hermetic; 42 volumes  Topics included women, eyes, mathematics, law, logic, etc.  Represents a syncretism of thought: Greek tradition represented by the god Hermes and Egyptian represented through god Thoth  Helenistic syncretism: both gods of learning and writing o Also significant to Islam and Paganism • Marsilio Ficino (1433 – 1499) o De vita coelitus comparanda [On Making Your Life Agree with the Heavens] (1489)/cosmic alchemy o core philosopher, banker, ruler in Florence (a city where the European renaissance was centered); patron of arts and Greco-Roman reviver o Translated Plato and Hermes; believed alchemy was key to health, harmony, good living; that there was practical component to alchemy pursuit and occult knowledge; a way of controlling one’s destiny and life o Emphasized a “cosmic alchemy” o Aprinciple idea of the Hermetic system: what happens in the world above will determine/be reflected in the world below (astrology) o Barac: To consider means to consult the stars • Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463 – 1494) o Oratio de hominis dignitate (Oration on the Dignity of Man) [1486] – humanistic syncretism o Key figure in occultism and magic; was a child prodigy and student of Ficino o Polyglot; could translateArabic/Hebrew to Latin o Considered more Heretical; brought together Hermeticism and Kabbalah  As a scholar of Arabic and Jewish culture, he was experienced in Aristotelian philosophy therefore argued for strongerAristotalenism  Held in high regardArabic and Jewish scholars; and, within a Christian framework, he argued it was in the best interest of Christians to become familiar with this scholarship  Therefore why he was considered very unique o Living in Florence = very close to Church hierarchy therefore less freedom than the following individuals discussed • Heinrich CorneliusAgrippa von Nettesheim (1486 – 1535) o Challenges to Church happening on many different levels at this time o De occulta philosophia (On Occult Philosophy) [1531 – 33]: natural magic o Takes Ficino and Mirandola: uses these occult arts to evangelize, Christianize people; using the ‘natural magic’of the world o Combined ideas/Focused on elements and groupings of elements o Agrippa widely popular; scandalous, read by wide cross-section of society o Not prosecuted because lived in time of Protestant reformation • Paracelsus [Theophrastus von Hohenheim] (1493 – 1541) o Hohenheim of Light. Hahahaha. Yes. o Archidoxis (1569)/chymistry o Experimented a great deal with salt; spur to the increase in the salt industry o Built on Agrippa’s idea of combining elements, putting things together/breaking things apart o Figure who separates chem from alchemy to reorient alchemy (especially concerns about transmutation toward pharmaceutical interests) o Very extreme iconoclast o Developing this form of thinking = deep source of cultural value; people risked their lives to defend these ideas, perceived to be at odds with the established, oppressive system of thought  They believed they were part of the liberatory struggle o Experimented in great detail with salt o Became very popular among cross-section – people after death o Work gets taken up by French; in France, first books of “chymistry” published, where science of synchrosis (synthesis) & diathesis (analysis); putting things together & taking things apart, which are fundamental activities in chemistry o Chemistry becomes a university discipline in late 17C  Through medical departments; doctors perceive value – chymistry  Thus becomes incorporated into the healing parts  This is how chemistry enters the university system Positivism • Aproduct of West European “enlightenment”, especially Henri de Saint-Simon o Had a servant to wake him every morning saying “You have great things to do today” o Influence on neoliberalism of today • Central tenets: o 1. History is driven by the growth of science and technology o 2. Natural scarcity (i.e., poverty) will be solved through science o 3. Ethical and political progress are linked to scientific progress • Auguste Comt
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