“Alchemy is the quest for an agent of material perfection, produced through a creative activity (opus), in which humans and nature collaborate. It exists in many cultures (China, India, Islam; in the Western world since Hellenistic times) under different specifications: aiming at the production of gold and/or other perfect substances from baser ones, or of the elixir that prolongs life, or even of life itself. Because of its purpose, the alchemists' quest is always strictly linked to the religious doctrine of redemption current in each civilization where alchemy is practiced. In the Western world alchemy presented itself at its advent as a sacred art. But when, after a long detour via Byzantium and Islamic culture, it came back again to Europe in the twelfth century, adepts designated themselves philosophers. Since then alchemy has confronted natural philosophy for several centuries.”
Pereira, Michela (2018). “Alchemy”. In Craig, Edward (ed.). Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Routledge.