Secrets of Nature: Astrology and Alchemy in Early Modern Europe

Secrets of Nature: Astrology and Alchemy in Early Modern Europe

by William R. Newman
     
 

In recent years scholars have begun to acknowledge that the occult sciences were not marginal enterprises but an integral part of the worldview of many of our ancestors. Astrology was one of the many intellectual tools — along with what we consider to be the superior tools of social and political analysis — that Renaissance thinkers used to attack

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Overview

In recent years scholars have begun to acknowledge that the occult sciences were not marginal enterprises but an integral part of the worldview of many of our ancestors. Astrology was one of the many intellectual tools — along with what we consider to be the superior tools of social and political analysis — that Renaissance thinkers used to attack practical and intellectual problems. It was a coherent body of practices, strongly supported by social institutions. And alchemy was not viewed primarily as a spiritual pursuit, an idea popularized by nineteenth-century occultists, but as a part of natural philosophy. It was often compared to medicine.

Many Renaissance writers suggested links between astrology and alchemy that went beyond the use of astrological charts to determine the best time to attempt alchemical operations. Secrets of Nature shows the many ways in which astrology (a form of divination) and alchemy (an artisanal pursuit concerned with the technologies of minerals and metals) diverge as well as intersect. Overall, it shows how an appreciation of the role of the occult opens up new ways of understanding the past. Topics include the career of Renaissance astrologer Girolamo Cardano and his work on medical astrology,the astrological thinking of Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei, the history of the Rosicrucians and the influence of John Dee, the work of medical alchemist Simon Forman, and an extended critique of the existing historiography of alchemy.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262640626
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
03/01/2006
Series:
Transformations: Studies in the History of Science and Technology
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
443
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

1Introduction: The Problematic Status of Astrology and Alchemy in Premodern Europe1
2"Veritatis amor dulcissimus": Aspects of Cardano's Astrology39
3Between the Election and My Hopes: Girolamo Cardano and Medical Astrology69
4Celestial Offerings: Astrological Motifs in the Dedicatory Letters of Kepler's Astronomia Nova and Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius133
5Astronomia inferior: Legacies of Johannes Trithemius and John Dee173
6The Rosicrucian Hoax in France (1623-24)235
7"The Food of Angels": Simon Forman's Alchemical Medicine345
8Some Problems with the Historiography of Alchemy385
Contributors433
Index435

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