Isaac Newton: Scientist or Occultist?


I used to tell my middle school students that Isaac Newton was the Father of Modern Science. Today, of course, we view science as a collective rather than a lone enterprise so I would have to say that he was one of the great contributors to modern science. But that’s beside the point. Isaac Newton was also an alchemist. Unbeknownst to his colleagues, he studied alchemy for 30 years and wrote over a million words on the topic.

But the real point is there was no firm dividing line then between science and the occult. Both were legitimate ways to pursue knowledge. Besides, the synthesis of gold was only one alchemical objective. At its heart, alchemy was an experimental science based on Aristotle’s Theory of the Unity of Nature. The goal was to heal, extend, and rejuvenate human life. So, think about how we are still studying ways to do those things, albeit with ever more sophisticated tools, and you’ll see how modern a pursuit alchemy was.

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