Gravity and Alchemy

  • B. J. T. Dobbs
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 146)


My earlier studies have yielded evidence that Newton was concerned from the first in his alchemical work in finding verification for the existence of a vegetative principle operating in the natural world, a principle he understood to be the secret, universal, animating spirit of which the alchemists spoke. He saw analogies between the vegetative principle and light and between the alchemical process and the work of the Deity at the time of creation. It was by use of this active vegetative principle that God constantly molded the universe to his providential design, producing all manner of generations, resurrections, fermentations, and vegetations. In short, it was the action of the secret animating spirit of alchemy that kept the universe from being the sort of closed mechanical system for which Descartes had argued (Dobbs 1975, 1979, 1982).


Active Principle Vegetative Function Scientific Enterprise Active Spirit Providential Design 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1992

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  • B. J. T. Dobbs

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