Secrets of Nature
Astrology and Alchemy in Early Modern Europe
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Secrets of Nature by William R. Newman
Book DescriptionIn recent years scholars have begun to acknowledge that the occult sciences were not marginal enterprises but an integral part of the worldview of many of our ancestors. Astrology was one of the many intellectual tools -- along with what we consider to be the superior tools of social and political analysis -- that Renaissance thinkers used to attack practical and intellectual problems. It was a coherent body of practices, strongly supported by social institutions. And alchemy was not viewed primarily as a spiritual pursuit, an idea popularized by nineteenth-century occultists, but as a part of natural philosophy. It was often compared to medicine. Many Renaissance writers suggested links between astrology and alchemy that went beyond the use of astrological charts to determine the best time to attempt alchemical operations. Secrets of Nature shows the many ways in which astrology (a form of divination) and alchemy (an artisanal pursuit concerned with the technologies of minerals and metals) diverge as well as intersect. Overall, it shows how an appreciation of the role of the occult opens up new ways of understanding the past. Topics include the career of Renaissance astrologer Girolamo Cardano and his work on medical astrology, the astrological thinking of Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei, the history of the Rosicrucians and the influence of John Dee, the work of medical alchemist Simon Forman, and an extended critique of the existing historiography of alchemy.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780262640626
(229mm x 152mm x 25mm)
Imprint: MIT Press
Publisher: MIT Press Ltd
Publish Date: 17-Feb-2006
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author William R. Newman
Osiris, Paperback (May 2015)
The last twenty-five years have witnessed some provocative transmutations in our understanding of early modern chemistry. This book offers a collection of essays that builds on these reappraisals and excavates the affinities between alchemy, chymistry, and chemistry from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.
Artificial and the Natural, Hardback (December 2007)
Notions of nature and art as they have been defined and redefined in Western culture, from the Hippocratic writers and Aristotle of Ancient Greece to nineteenth-century chemistry and twenty-first century biomimetics.
Atoms and Alchemy, Paperback (June 2006)
Since the Enlightenment, alchemy has been viewed as a sort of antiscience, disparaged by many historians as a form of lunacy that impeded the development of rational chemistry. This title exposes the speciousness of these views and challenges widely held beliefs about the origins of the Scientific Revolution.
Promethean Ambitions, Paperback (December 2005)» View all books by William R. Newman
In this book, the author uses alchemy as a means to discuss 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 responses to their efforts. This book imbues a millennium-old scientific and ethical debate with modern relevance.
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Author Biography - William R. Newman
William R. Newman is Ruth Halls Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is the coeditor of Secrets of Nature (MIT Press, 1999) and author or editor of several other books
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