Skeptical and Natural Philosophy

Medicine and Philosophy

How were alchemists regarded by their peers?

Alchemists were regarded with suspicion by traditional thinkers and theologians, but their constant experimentation with metals and plant stuff resulted in discoveries useful in tanning, dying, metallurgy, and other so-called “Baconian sciences.” The figure of the Magus (or wiseman, or sorcerer, or even warlock) was associated with alchemy throughout its history.

The science of modern chemistry had its early experimental roots in alchemy, which some think is the main reason why it was not accepted as part of the scientific curriculum in higher learning until well into the nineteenth century.

The theory behind alchemy was Neoplatonic. Its main principle, “As above, so below,” meant that man was a microcosm of the cosmos. In addition, time was believed to be cyclical, and the universe was seen as a being that is alive with divine spirit.


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