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Principles Beyond Ordinary Practice

A New Picture of Isaac Newton’s Chymistry

Webinar – 11 November 2021, 5.00-6.30 pm (CET)


William Royall Newman – Indiana University Bloomington

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Thanks mainly to the scholarship of Richard Westfall and Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs, a widely received narrative emerged over the last generation on the subject of Isaac Newton’s alchemy.  Although the positions of Westfall and Dobbs were not verbatim identical, the net result of their approach was a claim that Newton’s alchemy was a largely theocentric pursuit that contributed to his science by allowing for a rebaptizing of magical sympathy as gravitational attraction.  Additionally, the two American scholars downplayed any interest that Newton may have had in medical alchemy, the chymiatria of the post-Paracelsian period.

My recent book Newton the Alchemist presents a very different picture.   From my perspective, Newton’s alchemical research was dominated by goals that were neither religious in orientation nor directed at solving the problem of gravity.  In addition, I have found evidence that Newton had a serious interest in iatrochemistry, a fact overlooked by previous scholars.

The present talk will give an overview of these recent discoveries and show how they alter the “standard narrative” of Newton’s alchemy.



The event is free to attend but registration is required. To register click here.

For queries contact: info@csmbr.fondazionecomel.org