Alchemy, Compare Paracelsus

919 words 4 pages
Essay 2: Compare Paracelsus’ defence of alchemy in the texts collected by Oster to Bacon’s discussion of the same subject in the excerpts from Guide to the Interpretation of Nature and Sylva Sylvarum

Word Count (without in text references): 757

Neither Francis Bacon nor Paracelsus claims to be a professional alchemist, however, they both portray a strong defence as to why it is imperative to divulge the mysteries of nature. Both readings assert alchemy as a way of discovering the true forms of things. Paracelsus uses alchemy as a reference point of the past in defence for his use of medicine, whereas Bacon asserts through inductive reasoning that this ‘art of logic’ is how ‘we conquer nature’ (Bacon 1620). What they both get right
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If they are, it is supposedly both futile and heretical, and we’ll say: dangerous. Indeed God tasks man with completing his natural creation, for ‘man is nature’s agent and interpreter’(Bacon 1620), however, can we say the transmutation of base metals to gold is a way for mankind to alter the ways of God’s creation, perhaps even replace God’s intentions? For example, the ‘spirit of metal be quickened, and the tangible parts opened’(Bacon 1627) leads to the revelation of gold, hence the alchemist reveals great virtues that ‘lie hidden in nature’(Paracelsus 1951). Here, Bacon presents us with two types of worlds in his Guide to the Interpretation of Nature; nature, free and unconstrained, and nature, confined and harassed when forced from its own condition by art and human agency (Bacon 1627). Essentially, Bacon argues that nature is more likely to reveal its full potential through the ‘harassment of art’, rather than in ‘her own proper freedom’(Bacon 1627). Although Paracelsus asserts that alchemy is indispensable, Bacon accepts the understanding of nature that upheld the theoretical principles of alchemy (Linden 1974). He embraced a similarity of sorts, but one divested in the tremendously complicated system of analogies (those referencing God, included) adopted by Paracelsus and the magicians.

References Bacon, F. (1620). "The Novum organon: or, A true guide to the interpretation of nature." The New Organon: 14-24. Bacon, F.