The Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Possible

Living Edition
| Editors: Vlad Petre Glăveanu (Editor-in-Chief)


Living reference work entry


Also known as “hermetic science” in reference to the writings of Hermes Trismegistus, Alchemy is a type of knowledge that has developed over the centuries based on the interactions between mysticism, science, and art. Although not considered a natural science like today’s chemistry, physics, biology, among others, Alchemy still permeates human thought, in a way that references can be found in several cultural manifestations. Thus, the objective of the present entry is to discuss the idea of the possible on the threshold between these two perspectives: Alchemy and Chemistry, with special attention to the relationship between science, mysticism, and art. For this, we explore the question of the possible from an analysis of the processes of signification of some alchemical representations, observing how such knowledge could have unfolded in what we know today as Chemistry, with particular attention to the concept of fusion, which is understood in Alchemy as a process of joining bodies through the purifying power of fire, and, in Chemistry, as a change in physical state or a type of junction of melting metals to form alloys.


Alchemy The possible Chemistry Semiotic Science 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidade Federal de PernambucoCaruaruBrazil
  2. 2.Centro Federal de Educação Tecnológica Celso Suckow da FonsecaRio de JaneiroBrazil

Section editors and affiliations

  • Gabriel Fortes Cavalcanti de Macêdo
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of PsychologyUniversidad Alberto HurtadoSantiagoChile