“The probability of falsification by such men having been defined so clearly by a man of science, we feel free from the necessity of discussing the question in connection with the names of Van Helmont and his illustrious but unfortunate master, the much slandered Paracelsus.
Deleuze, though finding in the works of the former many “mythic, illusory ideas” – perhaps only because he could not understand them – credits him nevertheless with a vast knowledge, “an acute judgement”, and at the same time with having given to the world “great truths”. “He was the first”, he adds, “to give the name of gas to aerial fluids. Without him it is probable that steel would have given no new impulse to science.”
By what application of the doctrine of chances could we discover the likelihood that experimentalists, capable of resolving and recombining chemical substances, as they are admitted to have done, were ignorant of the nature of elementary substances, their combining energies, and the solvent or solvents, that would disintegrate them when wanted?
If they had the reputation only of theorists the case would stand differently and our argument would lose its force, but the chemical discoveries grudgingly accorded to them, by their worst enemies, form the basis for much stronger language than we have permitted ourselves, from a fear of being deemed over partial.
And, as this work, moreover, is based on the idea that there is a higher nature of man, that his moral and intellectual faculties should be judged psychologically, we do not hesitate to reaffirm that since Van Helmont asserted, “most solemnly”, that he was possessed of the secret of the alkahest, no modern critic has a right to set him down as either a liar or a visionary, until something more certain is known about the nature of this alleged universal menstruum.”
H. P. Blavatsky