The material principles or bases in early Arabic Hermeticism: a case-study from the Book of the Treasure of Alexander

Ana M. Alfonso-Goldfarb, Safa A.A.C. Jubran


Almost two decades ago, authors as D. Pingree and F. Zimmermann located in works of Arabic Hermeticism the existence of a conception alternative to the one of the four Aristotelian elements. Instead of elements, those works would begin to speak in principles which, in fact, would equate to the processes of transformation of matter. The possible sources would be the works of the first Hermeticism in Arabic language produced from the 9th century onwards, although other contemporaries, like the Mutazilites, also employed those singular notions. Our paper presents the Book of the Treasure of Alexander as study-case, a work that possibly belonged to the first Arabic Hermeticism and which brings indicators of such material principles.

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