Reaching the Goal of Alchemy – or: What Happens When You Finally Have Created the Philosophers’ Stone?

  • 1 Tübingen University Wilhelmstraße 113, , Tübingen, Germany

Abstract

Alchemy is the art of transforming base metals into precious ones, usually silver and/or gold. The most important method conceived to reach this goal was the creation of the elixir, also called the philosophers’ stone, which, applied to the prime-matter, would lead to an accelerated process of ripening of metals, eventually ending in gold. How did Arabo-Islamic alchemists suppose that the transmutation worked? What were the conditions the adept had to fulfil in order to succeed? And what did they think would happen when one finally has created the philosophers’ stone? Will the economy collapse because gold and silver will lose their validity? Will the alchemist simply lean back and enjoy? Or will the world end, because man has finally attained the knowledge that should be God’s only?

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