Discussion in 'Chemistry' started by Alchemic, Jul 29, 2011.
the definition of alchemy has changed, but the practice is still the same, almost.
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An interesting experiment, to simulate the research conditions of alchemy, would be to do science, but without modern resources. Instead of of just doing routine science, based on acceptable traditions, the goal would be to do frontier science, without precedent, without resources, and without collective support. If you needed something you needed to invent it. That was the default criteria of alchemy; develop chemistry without precedent, inventing what they needed as they go. They also had to look over their shoulder since this was taboo.
It is easy to sit back from a position of learned traditions and abundant technical resources, you could never invent or even service, and say let the alchemists eat cake. But if you did it the alchemy way, instead of the easy way, other types of mental resources will come into play. The symbolic analysis of alchemy came to light as the unconscious mind was trying to assist their journey into the unknown, since it was not group hug but working in isolation.
If you look at alchemy, from a psychology POV, their difficult research criteria revealed projected data from the unconscious psyche, that is still beyond the data that we have today. That data was not from sick minds. It was from the healthy minds of doctors and other educated people, pushing their imaginations, beyond all the known frontiers, in a taboo enviroment, with their unconscious mind reacting to this strain.
If the government was to decrease funding to science, then the easy way of mental prosthesis would be cut off. But not all scientists would have to throw in the towel, only the fair weather scientists who need the most prostheis to function. Others will continue on and have to do it the alchemy way, where you will need to depend on logic, imagination and hunches to compensate for the lack of mental prosthesis. This will make it harder to satisfy the criteria of ease, but good things still appear.
Stop thinking so linear. A true alchemist would never reject the best wisdom of civilization. An alchemist in any era would dedicate his mind to working on ideas that are from their perspective, just over the horizon. Since these ideas are non-extant as of yet, the vocabulary doesn't exist and their struggles towards theory has historically been looked upon as... quaint. A modern alchemist probably wouldn't call his or herself an alchemist anyway, as it would betray too much to their more rigid thinking peers. For example, an alchemist now might be interested in Von Neuman processing and what other sorts of structures might be possible based on their investigations on how that system works. Perhaps first by removing components and seeing how the structure breaks. Another thing an alchemist might work on is the idea of causality and paradox as it relates to time travel. Is there a way to reconcile various logical inconsistencies when viewing time as a structure which cant be relied upon to be linear?
The word alchemy has significant etymology as it stems from k-hem which was an old word for "black dirt" or land of black dirt. Some people believe it to mean Egypt, but the ideas probably stem from even older (perhaps). And to think that alchemists only were proto-chemists is absurd. Both Newton and Libnez were alchemy FREAKS. and they only came up with umm calculus.
Basically the point of alchemy should be seen as a somewhat loose framework, an archetype for how to approach ideas which haven't been developed formally yet. Alchemists would care nothing for problems that are already solved, they want to smash their intellect upon the problems other's deem as un-solvable. So yes, if you see someone trying to use sulpher and mercury to turn lead into gold, they are a blind follower and have probably very little to contribute. but if you see someone developing over and over again solutions to Navier stokes, because they believe it a key piece to some larger problem they want to solve, such as superfluidity and then use it to perfect some other design.
The fact that the word chemistry came from alchemy is a sort of sad compliment. It allows people to in a way of reject any modern relevance the old ideas may contain, because there were so many people who got into it without the critical thought. The same could be said for many modern pursuits though, One of the first things someone who actually dares to investigate alchemy is that all those recipes are bullshit written by hacks who latched on to something. Alchemy is an ancient signal, its persistence lay in it's more fragile ideas which so often get mistranslated and glossed over for the surface interpretation (the veneer). Which is exactly what the lesson is about, to get over your own misconceptions. Turning leaden thoughts into more golden ones.
what comes from k-hem? what comes from black dirt? growth.
Or more accurately alchemy is a primative attempt at science using folklore and an undeveloped understanding of the physical world, it is no more useful today than it was then.
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