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Sabir 1

Dominique Sabir Mr. Kantor Honors Chemistry 4/6/12 Alchemy vs. Chemistry A chemist is someone who studies chemicals. They are descended, philosophically from the mediaeval Alchemists who studied chemicals also however they were studying all things, not just chemicals in an attempt to discover the philosopher's stone. The alchemists were also very interested in the philosophical nature of things generally, as well as more esoteric knowledge about God and the Soul. Simply put the Alchemist studied chemicals and performed experiments to understand himself and God, where as the Chemist studies Chemicals in order to produce new compounds and understand nature. How do alchemy and chemistry relate and differ? Well, to answer this question we need to know what these two things are. I think everyone knows what chemistry is. Chemistry is the science that deals with the composition and properties of substances and various elementary forms of matter. So, what is alchemy? It is a medieval philosophy and early form of chemistry. The common view of alchemists, people who practiced alchemy, is that they were basically wannabescientists who tried to turn lead into gold. They believed all matter was composed of the four elements which were earth, air, fire, and water. So, they experimented around the edges of spirituality and magic.

Sabir 2

To truly understand the alchemists, it would be helpful to consider how ideally magical the conversion of one substance into another would seem in a culture with no formal understanding of physics or chemistry. The transformation of base metals into gold symbolized an attempt towards perfection or the highest of heights of actual existence. It also symbolized and the division of the world into four basic elements which was as much a regular principle than a environmental one. The literal interpretations of the alchemists unskilled colleagues, or the false hopes promoted by some of their colleagues should not weaken the accomplishments of the more genuine alchemists. In modern chemistry, principles are the parts of a substance, specifically those that produce a certain quality or effect in the substance, such as a bitter principle. This is any one of the numerous compounds having a bitter taste. But, in pre-modern chemistry and alchemy, principles were the five fundamental substances believed to create all bodies. Three of these were called active or hypostatical principles: salt; sulfur, or oil; and spirit, or mercury. The salt was supposed to be the foundation of all savors; the sulfur, of odors; and the spirit, or mercury, of colors. The two passive or elementary principles were phlegm/water and earth/caput mortem.