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Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature
     

Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature

by William R. Newman
 

ISBN-10: 0226575241

ISBN-13: 9780226575247

Pub. Date: 11/01/2005

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

In Promethean Ambitions, William R. Newman uses alchemy as a means to discuss the thinning boundary between the natural and the artificial. Focusing primarily on the period between 1200 and 1700, Newman examines the labors of pioneering alchemists and the impassioned—and often negative—responses to their efforts. Newman also shows that alchemy

Overview

In Promethean Ambitions, William R. Newman uses alchemy as a means to discuss the thinning boundary between the natural and the artificial. Focusing primarily on the period between 1200 and 1700, Newman examines the labors of pioneering alchemists and the impassioned—and often negative—responses to their efforts. Newman also shows that alchemy was not an unformed and capricious precursor to chemistry; it was an art founded on coherent philosophical and empirical principles—with vocal supporters and even louder critics—that attracted individuals of first-rate intellect. The historical relationship that he charts here between human creation and nature has innumerable implications today. Promethean Ambitions ably imbues a millennium-old scientific and ethical debate with modern relevance.

"With close attention to historical and textual detail that is never less than engaging, Newman unpacks the historical accidents and political machinations that led to alchemy's marginalization, bringing sympathy, wit and imagination to his account."—Simon Ings, New Scientist

"Newman chooses the fascinating topic of alchemy as his case study in the long history of human efforts to breach the barriers between nature and human artifice. . . . A thought-provoking book."—Iwan Rhys Morus, Science

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226575247
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
11/01/2005
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
A Note on Terminology
Abbreviations
Introduction. From Alchemical Gold to Synthetic Humans: The Problem of the Artificial and the Natural
1. Imitating, Challenging, and Perfecting Nature: The Arts and Alchemy in European Antiquity
2. Alchemy and the Art-Nature Debate
3. The Visual Arts and Alchemy
4. Artificial Life and the Homunculus
5. The Art-Nature Debate and the Issue of Experiment
Afterword. Further Ramifications of the Art-Nature Debate
References
Index

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