The Philosopher’s Stone

  • R. Hooykaas
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 205)


Aristotle’s ideas of Being and Change, of elements and compounds and of the structure of the universe had an overwhelming influence, even upon those, such as the Stoics and the Neoplatonists, who did not belong to his school of thought. In the Middle Ages all scholastic sects accepted his cosmology; later the vast majority of Renaissance philosophers, even though they were more inclined towards Platonism, would accept much of his natural philosophy and most of his astronomical system.


Concrete Substance Simple Body Aristotelian Philosophy Corpuscular Theory Astronomical System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Aristotle, Physica Bk.IV, ch.8,215a25–216.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Aristotle, De Generatione et Cotruptione Bk.I. ch. 10,328a25–30.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Geber, Summa Perfectionis Magistern, ch. 11. In: Gratarolus ed., Verae Alchymiae, Artisque Metallicae Doctrina. Basileae 1561, p. 125. From internal evidence J. Ruska concluded that the Summa was written in Spain in the 13th century. There are alchemical works written in Arabic attributed to Jabir-ibn-Hayyan (ca 900) (J. Ruska, Arabische Alchemisten, Vol.11, Gafar-al-Sadiq, der sechste Imam. Heidelberg 1924. Also: J. Ruska and P. Kraus, ‘Der Zusammenbruch der Dschâbir-legende’, in: Dritter Jahresber. d. Forschungs-Instituts f. Gesch. d. Naturwissensch. in Berlin, Berlin 1930). On Ruska’s important works about Arabic alchemy, see: R. Hooykaas, ‘Ruska’s Werk over de Arabische Alchemic Chemisch Weekblad 35 (1938), pp. 149–153.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bernardus Trevirensis (also: Trevisanus), Peri Chimeias, Opus Historicum et Dogmaticum… ex Gallico in Latinum Versum, Argentorati 1567, fol.6vs, 8r, 8vs. He says that he succeeded in achieving the ‘Great Work’ when he was 74 years old, though he had begun at 17 (—, fol.38r.).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    ‘The arts either, on the basis of nature, carry things further than nature can, or they imitate nature’ (Aristotle, Physica Bk.Il, ch.8, 199a).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Geber, Summa, eh. 51.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Jâbir, quoted by E.J. Holmyard, Chemistry to the Time ofDalton, London 1925, p. 10.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bartholomaeus Anglicus, De Proprietatibus Rerum (ca 1240), Bk.XVI, cap.7.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Geber, Summa, ch.25. Cf. ch.lO; ch.53.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    R. Hooykaas, Het Begrip Element in zijn historisch-wijsgeerige Ontwikkeling, Utrecht 1933, pp.41 –49. 11 Trevirensis, Peri Chimeias, fol.28vs. Cf. fol.25r, 26vs.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Thomas Norton, The Ordinall of Alchemy ch.III (ed. Ashmole 1652, p.41).Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    Goethe’s Faust, 1042–1048: Da ward ein roter Leu, ein kühner Freier,Im lauen Bad der Lilie vermählt, Und beide dann mit offnem Flammenfeuer Aus einem Brautgemach ins andere gequältErschien darauf mit bunten Farben Die junge Königin im Glas,…Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    Trevirensis, Peri Chimeias, fol.34vs.Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    Norton, The Ordinall of Alchemy (ed. Ashmole 1652), ch.V, p.57, 60.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    Geber, Summa, ch.61: cf Hooykaas, Het Begrip Element, p.47; 45–49.Google Scholar
  16. 17.
    E. von Meyer, Geschichte der Chemie von den ältesten Zeiten bis zur Gegenwart, 4. Aufl., Leipzig 1914, p.40.Google Scholar
  17. 18.
    ‘Ex praecedentibus igitur patet, quod multa quantitas argenti vi vi est perfectionis, multa vero sulphuris, causa corruptionis’ (Geber, Summa, ch.61, p.157).Google Scholar
  18. 19.
    ‘… nam videmus argentum vivum argento vivo magis adhaerere et eidem magis amicari, post illud vero aurum et post haec argentum’ (Geber, Summa, ch.59, p.155).Google Scholar
  19. 20.
    Robertus Tauladanus, In Braceschum Gebri Interpretern Animadversio. In: G. Gratarolus, Verae Alchemiae Artisque Metallicaedoctrina. Basileae 1561, p.53, 54: ‘(res) quibus cum aliquo affinitatis vinculo conjunetae sunt, tanta quaedam benevolentia complectantur, et eas sibi copulari gaudent, et laetantur…’Google Scholar
  20. 21.
    Norton, The Ordinall of Alchemy, ch.I, p.20; 18. See also page 90.Google Scholar
  21. 22.
    Isaac Newton to Francis Aston, 18 May 1669, In: H.W. Turnbull ed., The Correspondence of Isaac Newton, Vol.I, Cambridge 1959, p. 11.Google Scholar
  22. 23.
    Hooykaas, Het Begrip Element, deals with the ambiguous character of ‘element’ from Antiquity to Mendeleev. R. Hooykaas, ‘The Law of the Conservation of Elements’ (originally in Dutch, 1947, as ’De Wet van Elementenbehoud’, in: Chem. Weekblad 43 (1947), pp.526–531; translation in: Selected Studies, Coimbra 1983, pp.121–144).Google Scholar
  23. 24.
    In the terminology of the atomic theory neither S2 nor Sg, but’S’ is the element. All substances denoted as ‘sulphur’ (brimstone) are considered to be conglomerates of particles with the nuclear charge 16 and to all of them the same place in the periodic table is allotted, though there are ‘isotopes’ (occupants of the same place) of various atomic weights (32,33,34). There are different molecules of sulphur (Sg, Se, S4, S2) and, in the solid state, sulphur molecules may be differently arranged in the crystals (rhombic and monoclinic sulphur). Cf. Hooykaas, ‘The Law of the Conservation of Elements’, p. 139 ff.Google Scholar
  24. 25.
    R. Hooykaas, ‘Die Elementenlehre des Paracelsus’, in: Janus 39 (1935), pp.175–187 (Reprinted in: Selected Studies, pp.43–57).Google Scholar
  25. 26.
    R. Hooykaas, ‘Die chemische Verbindung bei Paracelsus’, in: Sudhoffs Archiv f. Gesch. d. Medizin u. d. Naturwiss. 32 (1939), pp. 166–175. (Reprint in: Selected studies, pp.93–104).Google Scholar
  26. 27.
    ‘… nun ist das wort auch dreifach gewesen, dan die trinket hats gesprochen… Und furhin seind alle ding in drei gesetzt’ (Paracelsus, De Meteoris, ch.2. In: Theophrast von Hohenhein, genannt Paracelsus, Sämtliche Werke, K. Sudhoff ed., Vol.XIII, München-Berlin 1931, p.135.Google Scholar
  27. 28.
    ‘…ein ietliche kunst… nicht mer dan dreierlei species suchen sol, als wenig minder oder mer die Zal in der gotheit ist…. Und ein ietliche kunst die da mer suchet, die ist falsch, und irret in der Natur, sucht in ir das in ir nicht ist’ (Paracelsus, ibidem, Werke XIII, p.136).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Hooykaas
    • 1
  1. 1.UtrechtThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations