Discussion in 'Ancient History and Mythology' started by wil, Feb 18, 2015.
That is some excellent, detailed work. Clearly he covers ground I haven't gone yet, but I do see he does cover some stuff I've looked at in the past (such as the impact of Mithraism on Christianity).
The only thing I don't see included, which is no surprise really, is the direct relationship between science and alchemy. Perhaps there is some degree of vagueness as to what religious affiliations alchemy had in the west (although Hermeticism seems an appropriate avenue), but in the east alchemy had definite ties to Taoism.
Alchemy.... I recall the gold being the holy grail of sorts, hiding the secrets from the masses and the kings? Newton?
Newton was primarily mathematics...Calculus?
Alchemy was primarily chemistry.
I thought that it was the other way around, primarily an alchemist seeking scientific findings in the bible and calculus was something created along the way....with the larger goal in mind...like building a ladder so one can fix the roof.
Alchemists were a strange and secretive group. On the one hand, they had to present the public façade of being Christian (in Europe of the time), because they could be branded as witches and executed for what they were doing. Yet, in typical political contrast, if they somehow managed to impress the "king," he would become their benefactor and shield them away with governmental protection so long as the alchemist's work was of benefit to the kingdom. The primary pursuits were gold and immortality....the same things that drove Columbus to sail over the edge of the known world!
At least among the witch hunters, there was a very fine line between spell-casting and alchemy...but Wicca as a "faith" didn't come into being until Gerald Gardner in the 1950s I think it was, something of a revival of the old spell-casting traditions...so to say alchemy is related to or came out of Wicca is incorrect, although it is likely the two had some common or familiar source. Hermeticism seems a likely candidate by this chart, but also because of the affiliation with some of the other fraternal type secret organizations (Masons, Rosecrucians, etc.).
I would say the Hermetic Tradition is Universal, and as old as man. Symbology is its language, and alchemy is its application.
I would also draw a distinction between 'original' alchemy, which is a 'spiritual science' and most probably a component of every religious system, and Renaissance alchemy which is what happens when the 'materialists', for the want of a better term, got hold of it, which is what you're commenting on, I think.
The error was in assuming the process of spiritual alchemy can be replicated physically, so the hunt for the 'Philosopher's Stone' as some kind of catalyst to turn lead into gold ...
Personally I toss all that into the trash.
But Hermeticism, symbology and alchemy was, and is still, discussed in Christian circles. Augustine and Aquinas saw much wisdom in the Hermetic Tradition, and weren't burnt at the stake for saying so! And famously Pope Emeritus Benedict wrote the Foreword to a very well informed work of Christian Hermeticism: Meditations on the Tarot.
I would say Hermeticism and its methodology is alive and well ... but 'authentic' Hermeticism never courted the public gaze.
Which is pretty well where Taosim (Daoism) enters the picture, I suspect brought into Europe with the Marco Polo travels and trade, certainly along the Silk Road. No doubt later practitioners from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance (what I believe you are calling the "materialists") refined or streamlined the process and interjected a western understanding of the underlying mechanics...I sometimes see alchemical material paralleled with Culpepper's Herbal, for instance, which is rich with astrological assumptions of the period (late in the period anyway, for Culpepper). There are hints in this direction even today throughout the Old Farmer's Almanac, published every year since Ben Franklin's time in America.
Ah! But the alchemist had to be pure of heart, or the process wouldn't work! I have no doubt the various schools of thought had their own take on things, their own "spin" as it were. Some elements even crossed lines and informed other schools, partly the reason we know they were around and at least had some success...although how much is left open to discussion as they certainly didn't make front page news or any sizeable coverage in traditional history books. it likely served the king well not to let his subjects or rivals to know quite what he was up to, so those alchemists in his service did so in secrecy.
I think it is fair to say that Hermeticism also informed medicine, Hippocrates and all that, and there it probably reached its greatest acceptance. Clearly this is prior to the advent of "modern" medicine, when they were still doing blood-letting with leaches and that sort of thing, but even then it allowed about a thousand years of praxis in the west, and thereby provided a foundation from which modern science could spring forth.
So, science is indeed a religion. (I've thought this way for many years now) Where science gains its modern credibility is by shifting its focus from the "why?" to the "how?" and ostensibly using Greek logic as it's base method of inquiry. So very philosophical in its approach, but nevertheless with strong religious roots and background.
I don't have any references to that, so wouldn't know. Mine point back to the Egyptian/Greek traditions.
I think the distinctions between philosophy, metaphysics, science, theology, religion, etc., today are somewhat academic, the result of a continuing bifurcation process. Theology is a science, for example, and Platonism has its religious or theurgic aspect. Man's vision of the cosmos was a lot more holistic than it is today ...
Excuse me for one moment.
Whew. Thank you. I feel much better now.
You are safe DA...it is much more of a cult than an organized religion... I mean yeah, it has it tenets, and dogma, and rituals, and zealous adherents...
There there, it's OK. I know it's really hard to hear, it's not often the dots get connected.
Truthiness at its finest!
I do what I can.
Oh, truthiness! I thought you said toothiness!
What with this binary thinking? Science is like religion compared to other things it is even less. No? At the same time they are nothing like each other when looking at the axioms for example. We can hold two opposing perspectives in our head, no?
Juan, I wrote a little bit of faith and science a while back. People didn't have a lot of opinions on it, I'm wondering if you might. It's not scholarly, just reasoning.
@ Tea: Absolutely. Just point the way.
I realize that those that hold a strong affiliation with science cringe at the thought of their discipline having roots in religion of the past...I mean, science is a bit like a bastard child denying its heritage. But science didn't just pop up overnight. Hermeticism, while I am no expert, as a philosophy was already pointed in the general direction that became science anyway. I understand the hereditary connection is spotty, and the reasons from the time are politically charged and to a great degree remain so. It doesn't change the reality. "Science" was a way for Hermeticism to come out of the shadows and take a rightful place among equals.
I forgot the Link!
I also think there 'science' has become to broad a term to throw it around lightly. If discussed, I think it has to be narrowed down.
True...by "science" here in this thread (and generally) I refer to the discipline.
Juan I agree that science did not pop up overnight. It's origins were in lots of things, including astrology for example. And of course some of our better scientists at certain times in history where religiously educated. They were religiously educated because that was the only type of formal education at the time.
That science had its beginnings in pseudo-sciences is true. That some religious folks contributed in the formation of science is also true. From neither of these truths can any reasonable case by made that science grew out of religion. And the things it did grow out of were mostly discarded along the way as the concept of the scientific principle came together. Did astrology contribute to the rise of astronomy. Certainly it did. They are never the less two entirely separate disciplines.
This is a silly comment, and quite frankly, not something I would expect from you. It is the kind of snarky remark I would expect a religious person to make to an atheist. Scientists do not cringe at the roots of their discipline. Scientists believe no such thing. I cannot speak for all scientists; as a person who holds that science is the greatest discipline humans have yet created; I can say that knowing from what roots science actually did originate. Religion is not one of them.
DA, could you post a tread on the origins of science?
Separate names with a comma.