Not only was the Renaissance not a recovery of science and Aristotle from the dread medievals (the latter were quite familiar with science), but it also saw the rise, not of free-thinking, but of superstition, witchcraft, and magic. Alchemy has always been the Holy Grail of inquisitive individuals for ages. While the form practiced in the Renaissance is laughable by today’s standards, the goals are still the same.
Alchemy didn’t merely try to turn lead into gold. That’s nice, but that’s not the point. Renaissance scientists, like today’s, saw matter as essentially dead. Denying the notion of “substance,” the what-ness of a thing (whose base was spiritual, since matter points to a Form, and forms can be instantiated outside of matter–which is the spiritual realm; c.f. St Augustine).
However, if there is no “essence” to a thing, then it is merely dead matter; inert. If it is dead matter, it can be manipulated. While suggesting that lead turns into gold might be ridiculous, the overall argument of the alchemists won the day (and is the reigning ideology of the today’s economics, the Academy, and modern politics). If so, what are some examples of manipulating dead matter:
- Capital can be manipulated. The fluidity of capital in itself is not evil. However, it is the prime weapon of Modernity. Take away technological capital’s highly liquid state and you rob modernity of it’s chief weapon.
- People can be transformed from base metals (medievals) to gold (urbane moderns).
- Worthless paper can be transformed into international currency (in many ways the FED is the primary example of alchemy; how else do you magically turn paper into “gold?”).
I refer you of course to Fr Johnson’s much better paper on http://www.rusjournal.com/Augustine.pdf