Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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Philosopher’s Stone
(1,022 words)

The concept of the Philosopher’s Stone (Latin lapis philosophorum), current in literal and metaphorical senses since the beginning of the early modern period (e.g. Angelus Silesius in the 17th century), was central to alchemy. It concerned the possible existence of a particular substance capable of transforming base materials into precious ones, and metals ultimately into gold, by triggering their inherent tendency to perfection. Producing the Philosopher’s Stone, in what became known as the “great work” (opus magnum), was discussed in countless practical guides …

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Meinel, Christoph, “Philosopher’s Stone”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 18 October 2021 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_SIM_028240>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20200721



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