Wolfgang Smith Quote

Interest in alchemy seems to be nowadays on the rise. Whereas the educated public at large remains no doubt skeptical and indeed disdainful of the ancient discipline, there is today a deepening awareness among the better informed that what stands behind many an exploded superstition may be in fact a long-forgotten wisdom. Although Carl Jung was obviously exaggerating when ! he suggested that four centuries after being expelled from our universities,- alchemy stands knocking at the door, a number of factors have conspired; to render the prospect of re-admission less remote, at least, than it had been ; during the heyday of materialism. In any case, no truly solid grounds for rejecting the ancient doctrine have yet been proposed. Take the case of the so-called four elements: earth, water, air and fire. One can be reasonably certain that these terms were not employed alchemically in their ordinary sense, but were used to designate elements, precisely, out of which substances, as we know them, are constituted. Somewhat like the quarks of modern physics, these elements are not found empirically in isolation, but occur in their multiple combinations, that is to say, as the perceptible substances that constitute what I term the corporeal domain. Now, as I have argued at length in The Quantum Enigma (Peru, Illinois: Sherwood Sugden, 1995), corporeal objects are not in fact mere aggregates of quantum particles; and this clearly suggests that there may indeed be elements of the aforesaid kind. It turns out that our habitual opposition to alchemy is based mainly upon scientistic prejudice: upon a reductionist dogma, namely, for which there is in reality no scientific support at all.

Wolfgang Smith

Interest in alchemy seems to be nowadays on the rise. Whereas the educated public at large remains no doubt skeptical and indeed disdainful of the ancient discipline, there is today a deepening awareness among the better informed that what stands behind many an exploded superstition may be in fact a long-forgotten wisdom. Although Carl Jung was obviously exaggerating when ! he suggested that four centuries after being expelled from our universities,- alchemy stands knocking at the door, a number of factors have conspired; to render the prospect of re-admission less remote, at least, than it had been ; during the heyday of materialism. In any case, no truly solid grounds for rejecting the ancient doctrine have yet been proposed. Take the case of the so-called four elements: earth, water, air and fire. One can be reasonably certain that these terms were not employed alchemically in their ordinary sense, but were used to designate elements, precisely, out of which substances, as we know them, are constituted. Somewhat like the quarks of modern physics, these elements are not found empirically in isolation, but occur in their multiple combinations, that is to say, as the perceptible substances that constitute what I term the corporeal domain. Now, as I have argued at length in The Quantum Enigma (Peru, Illinois: Sherwood Sugden, 1995), corporeal objects are not in fact mere aggregates of quantum particles; and this clearly suggests that there may indeed be elements of the aforesaid kind. It turns out that our habitual opposition to alchemy is based mainly upon scientistic prejudice: upon a reductionist dogma, namely, for which there is in reality no scientific support at all.

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About Wolfgang Smith

Wolfgang Smith (born February 18, 1930) is a mathematician, physicist, philosopher of science, metaphysician, Roman Catholic and member of the Traditionalist School. He has written extensively in the field of differential geometry, as a critic of scientism and as a proponent of a new interpretation of quantum mechanics that draws heavily from medieval ontology and realism.