Giving Up on Alchemy

A show I was watching on Netflix, showing an alchemist at work, gave me an idea.

I could be wrong, but I suspect alchemy gradually evolved into science because of alchemists keeping the stuff that worked and tossing out the stuff that didn’t. The magic failed, but the occasional experiment succeeded, It was a process. No one intended to abandon alchemy; it just happened over time.

I can even imagine some people clinging to hope, still searching for the Elixir of Life, the philosopher’s stone, or a way to (easily and cheaply) turn lead into gold, as others were pursuing the more realistic natural sciences.

In a parallel way, politics is alchemy; libertarianism is science.

I can see how politics slowly evolved into libertarianism over the centuries as smart people tossed out the stuff which didn’t work and kept doing the stuff which did. Getting closer to anarchy with each winnowing. I believe the Tao Te Ching shows some early faltering steps in that direction from around 2600 years ago. It takes time to get things right.

Yet, there are still a lot of delusionally hopeful alchemists still searching for the best kind of government, the right people to run it, and the law which will solve a problem. The shocking thing is that anyone takes them seriously.

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Kent McManigal

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