Secrets of Nature: Astrology and Alchemy in Early Modern Europe (Revised Edition) by Newman, William R./ Grafton, Anthony [Paperback]
In recent years scholars have begun to acknowledge that the occult sciences were notmarginal enterprises but an integral part of the worldview of many of our ancestors. Astrology wasone of the many intellectual tools--along with what we consider to be the superior tools of socialand political analysis--that Renaissance thinkers used to attack practical and intellectualproblems. It was a coherent body of practices, strongly supported by social institutions. Andalchemy was not viewed primarily as a spiritual pursuit, an idea popularized by nineteenth-centuryoccultists, but as a part of natural philosophy. It was often compared to medicine.Many Renaissancewriters suggested links between astrology and alchemy that went beyond the use of astrologicalcharts to determine the best time to attempt alchemical operations. Secrets of Nature shows the manyways in which astrology (a form of divination) and alchemy (an artisanal pursuit concerned with thetechnologies of minerals and metals) diverge as well as intersect. Overall, it shows how anappreciation of the role of the occult opens up new ways of understanding the past. Topics includethe career of Renaissance astrologer Girolamo Cardano and his work on medical astrology, theastrological thinking of Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei, the history of the Rosicrucians andthe influence of John Dee, the work of medical alchemist Simon Forman, and an extended critique ofthe existing historiography of alchemy.
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