Monday, September 01, 2014

Review: The Birth of Chemistry

The Birth of Chemistry
The Birth of Chemistry by Rodwell, George F.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the style of book,modern history cannot divine the past as prophets divined the future, obscure language of divination is the language of poetry. Taine's distinction between the important and the unimportant and his call for the elimination of confusion is from rhetoric. The pact between rhetoric and history is Machiavellian, and infinite for both, caught between the words and reality.{Lombardo 1990} Taine rejection of rationalism was a crucial first step in the elaboration of new forms of liberalism.

Many of the useful arts depend on chemical processes, in the sense in which we use the word "chemical" now. Metallurgy, dyeing, the manufacture of porcelain and glass, were all known in the early ages of the world, and are all chemistry in practice.

We find the name of Chemistry applied to the art of making gold and silver in the fifth century, in the earliest work known in which the word occurs. This work, entitled, A Faithful Description of the Sacred and Divine Art of making Gold and Silvery by Zosimos, the Panapolite, carries back the art to a far distant period, for it attributes it to the sons of God mentioned in the 6th chapter of Genesis, who, it states, were angels allured from heaven by the charms of women, to whom they imparted the secret of making precious metals. Suidas, in his Lexicon, written in the eleventh century, says, under the word chemia " The preparation of silver and gold.

The books on it were sought after by Diocletian, and burnt, on account of the new attempts made by the Egyptians against him.
It is, however, doubtful whether Alchemy can claim such high antiquity as this; for the silence of Latin authors, especially Pliny, on the subject, would lead us to believe that it took its rise among the Greeks at a later date. The earliest works on the subject are Greek, and a long list, comprising eighty works, is given in Boerhaave's Chemistry, 1753.

"Chemical technology is purely Byzantine and Hellenic, but it was altogether divorced from theory, and the "Turba" is never quoted by any writer in the first century and a half of alchemical literature. But though Greek thought had no direct action on Latin writers, it was the ultimate source of Arabic alchemy as regards the theory of metals, the elixir of life being apparently of Chinese origin. No doubt a few Byzantine adepts found their way into the west? Roger Bacon mentions a Greek he had known, and there is the still earlier case of the Jew of Bremen. The story of translation from the Arabic begins with Robert of Chester in 1144, Plato of Tivoli and Hugo Sanctallensis, and goes on to Gerard of Cremona, who before his death in 1187 translated three classics of alchemy? two of them only printed in our own time, by Berthelot and the writer. A number of treatises were translated before the middle of the thirteenth century, as shown by the quotations from them in the "Speculum Naturale" of Vincent of Beauvais (1245), the alchemical writings of Roger Bacon ending 1267, and the writings of Albertus Magnus on minerals and the "Speculum Astronomicum". St. Thomas also accepts the scientific possibility of alchemy"

Raymond Lulli aka Ramon Lull "Doctor Illuminatus", apparently have second hand manuscripts after unknown manuscripts.

Chaptr IX give us an abstract with images from {Giano Lacinio et al. 1894} and in X is born. Paracelsus split Iatrochemy from his own metaphysical world, and at XI {Boerhaave Herman 1727} give inorganic and organic chemistry. {B H 1 1753}, {B H 2 1753}

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