Essay on Alchemy: Chemistry and Rational Materialism

Submitted By Priscilla-Chen
Words: 371
Pages: 2

Relation to the science of chemistry
Alchemy is usually seen as a fake and absurd science, using primitive materials in to turn base metals like lead into gold. By the end of 17th century, alchemy had been entirely discredited, with the birth of modern chemistry, which provided a more precise and reliable framework based on rational materialism.
However, alchemy still has ardent followers in popular culture. It is a popular belief that alchemists made contributions to the modern "chemical" industries.
Followers state that, the concept of transmutation—turning one metal into another—was based on a coherent theory about the composition of metals. Alchemists believed that all metals were compounds of the same two materials. The differences among them were due to the proportions of those two materials and their grades of purity. Thus, changing the proportions or purifying one material could change one metal into another. History has often made it seem as though alchemy’s emphasis on transmutation is what sank it into oblivion. But several prominent scientists, including Sir Isaac Newton and Robert Boyle, known as the father of modern chemistry, pursued transmutation and other aspects of alchemy.
The attempts of alchemists to find out the properties of substances, to predict the behavior of chemicals and to anticipate the products of their chemical reactions, resulted in early conceptions of chemical elements and the first rudimentary periodic tables. They learned how to extract metals from ores, and how to compose many types of inorganic acids and bases.
Therefore, although their goal of…