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The Aspiring Adept: Robert Boyle and his Alchemical Quest Paperback – October 8, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0691050829 ISBN-10: 0691050821

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (October 8, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691050821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691050829
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,861,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Principe is to be congratulated on bringing [Boyle] into a new focus."--D. M. Knight, Nature

"The Aspiring Adept is an audacious, enchanting, and deeply rewarding book, one that will be of equal interest to historians, chemists, and interested laypersons. It is a real treat."--A. J. Rocke, Chemistry in Britain

"Lawrence Principe's book goes a long way toward recovering the complexity of Boyle's mind and work. . . . [His] ability to reconstruct Boyle's laboratory practices, ascertain the relations between Boyle and a large community of like-minded practitioners, and retrieve, fully or partially, some of Boyle's alchemical writings is . . . remarkable."--Mordechai Feingold, American Scientist

"Principe has performed a great service by printing some of the choicer parts [of Boyle's unpublished works]. . . . [He] avoids the easy temptation to interpret Boyle's alchemical operations in terms of modern chemistry."--Peter Dear, Physics World

About the Author

Lawrence M. Principe is Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Institute for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology at The Johns Hopkins University.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Albert Hand on October 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
Lawrence Principe is one of the top alchemy scholars today, easy to read and listen to, and actually quite a nice guy. This volume--one of many important texts authored by Principe--represents a key development in the rehabilitation of alchemical studies in the history of science. Anybody who is interested in the academic study of the subject should become familiar with the argument, which is well-organized, easy to understand, and packed with useful information. Sure, it's dense dry and historical, but you won't be bored. The bibliography will lead you to plenty more of the latest scholarship, which is beginning to be well represented at good university libraries.

Speaking of libraries, this would be an important addition to a library collection dealing with the history of chemistry and the historiography of science.

Those who are interested in spiritual alchemy and occultism will also find much of value in this book, especially those thirsty for responsible writing and useful data about the history of occult science, as well as theological dimensions of alchemy.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By M. Dodson on January 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a well-written book that exposes the inner workings of one of the great scientific minds of that era, a time when Isaac Newton was putting together his laws of gravity and men like Boyle were formulating laws that evolved into our modern day chemistry. It's important to the history of science because this is when much of the superstition and mysticism of the Dark Ages finally fell away and led humanity toward a whole new way of thinking about nature. I liked this book because it shows in some detail how this crossover was accomplished and how difficult it was for thinkers of that time to tear their roots from the past and dream a new world.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Yorick Hunt on October 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
Cannabis in Alchemical Literature: Green Lion, Philosopher's Stone

Three things suffice for the work: a white smoke, which is water; a green Lion, which is the ore of Hermes, and a fetid water... The stone, known from the chapters of books, is white smoke and water.

Michael Maier
Atalanta Fugiens

Of this self-same body, which is the matter of the Stone, three things are chiefly said; that it is a green Lion, a stinking Gum, and a white Fume... Having twelve pounds of Green Lion thus brought into gum, thou mayst believe...

St. Dunstan (pseudo)
Philosophia Maturata

A green Gum called our green Lyon, which Gum dry well, yet beware thou not burn his Flowers nor destroy his greenness.

Sir George Ripley
The Bosome-Book of Sir George Ripley

You will see marvelous signs of this Green Lion, such as could be bought by no treasures of the Roman Leo. Happy he who has found it and learned to use it as a treasure!

The Treasure of Treasures

Beware therefore of many, and hold thee to one thing. This one thing is naught else but the lyon greene...

Bloomfield's Blossoms

Perfect bodies we naturally calcine with the first, without adding any impure body but one commonly called by philosophers the green lion, and this is the medium for perfectly combining the tinctures of the Sun and Moon.

The Golden Tract

And now it is known in Metallic Mysteries, that at the very Entrance, we meet the enigma of the Lion of Green growth, which we call the Green Lion; which, I pray thee, do not think is so-called, from any other Cause but its Colour.
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