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Newton the Alchemist$
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William Newman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174877

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174877.001.0001

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Attempts at a Unified Practice

Attempts at a Unified Practice

Keynes 58

(p.246) Twelve Attempts at a Unified Practice
Newton the Alchemist

William R. Newman

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers how Newton combined his understanding of Johann de Monte-Snyders with motifs and practices drawn from Philalethes. To Newton, no single alchemist had revealed the entire set of processes necessary to acquire the philosophers' stone. On the alchemical principle that “one book opens another” (liber librum aperit), it was necessary to assemble the full set of stages from multiple authors in order to arrive at success. In order to get a sense of Newton's mature melding of Snyderian motifs with those drawn from other chymists, the chapter examines another manuscript from the King's College collection, Keynes MS 58. This fascinating text, though heavily Snyderian in orientation, brings in elements from Philalethes and Sendivogius as well in an attempt to arrive at foundational elements of a “master process” in Newton's overall chrysopoetic quest.

Keywords:   Isaac Newton, Johann de Monte-Snyders, Philalethes, alchemy, philosophers' stone, Sendivogius, Keynes MS 58

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