Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

Get access

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 …

Cite this page
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 23 September 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_SIM_028240>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20200721

▲   Back to top   ▲