The whole goal of the alchemical art lay in “the general idea that the powers of the cosmic soul must somehow be concentrated in a solid, the philosophers’ stone or elixir, which would then be able to carry out the transmutations that the alchemists desired.” It was an attempt to reconstruct, for specific cases, the descent of specific minerals from that undifferentiated ((cosmic soul” or medium as exactly as possible, in order to incorporate that “cosmic soul’s” very powers of.transmutation in ordinary matter. As Holmyard states it, “The underlying idea seems to have been that since the prime matter was the same in all substances, an approximation to this prime matter should be the first quest of alchemy.” The ability to confect such a “philosophical gold” would indeed give its possessors an awesome power. It is important to view this quest for the Philosophers’ Stone in a much wider context in order to reveal its true significance.

The whole goal of the alchemical art lay in “the general idea that the powers of the cosmic soul must somehow be concentrated in a solid, the philosophers’ stone or elixir, which would then be able to carry out the transmutations that the alchemists desired.” It was an attempt to