philosopher's stone love

philosopher's stone

Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A substance able to turn base metals into gold or silver, usually by means of the application and distillation of another substance, usually mercury; also sometimes claimed to give immortality.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. an imaginary stone which the alchemists formerly sought as instrument of converting the baser metals into gold.
  • n. See under Philosopher.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. hypothetical substance that the alchemists believed to be capable of changing base metals into gold
  • n. hypothetical substance that the alchemists believed to be capable of changing base metals into gold

Etymologies

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Comments

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  • The philosopher's stone (Latin: lapis philosophorum; Greek: chrysopoeia) is a legendary substance, supposedly capable of turning inexpensive metals into gold; it was also sometimes believed to be an elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and possibly for achieving immortality. For a long time it was the most sought after goal in Western alchemy. (Wikipedia)

    Also see barqu.

    May 20, 2008

  • "Reaching out to Joe Sikspak"? This should be "Six-pack", "Sixpack", or "Six Pack", right? Unless there's some joke here I'm unaware of.

    March 13, 2008

  • Given that I recognise as much of my own comment in your reaction as I do of modern academic philosophy in your thinker of Big Thoughts... Look, I'll accept that I didn't go out of my way to specify a light-hearted tone in reacting to yarb's characterisation of public acquaintance with the field, but please allow me a moment's unguarded hyperbole. You're responding to nobody, because you tried to infer my actual opinions on transatlantic social differences from one ambiguous sentence.

    March 13, 2008

  • Well, we can second-guess the publisher and their marketing department all we want, but we're still having an intelligent conversation about words and their meanings, so IMHO the ultimate goal was met. "The media" (a term I hate because it makes a monolith out of something that is raucously individual) or publishers in general are interested in getting people to read more, and to do that their products must compete with a multiplicity of other forms of entertainment. Consequently they'll do a lot of things to get people to pick up a book--in this case, change one word in a title. There's certainly no moral right or wrong about them changing a word (even an important word) in a title. They were simply trying to get people to read more books, and in this case it worked. Would people have read it anyway, with the original title? Probably, maybe, who knows?

    Please understand I'm not trying to attack anyone. I'm disappointed is all. What set me off was not even this particular page or comment so much as the tendency for disparaging comments to be made about certain types of people, or certain nationalities, or socio-economic levels... anything, really... it just set me off today. I didn't want it to just lie here without a response. We all agree on this: Americans aren't all stupid and lazy, "the media" doesn't always assume we are, and in this particular case it seems like both of those statements are irrelevant. But I do agree that "philosopher's stone" is an awesome phrase. :)

    sigh I probably need a break from Wordie.

    March 13, 2008

  • I don't think the UK public is much, if any, more conversant with the concept of the philosopher's stone than the US public, but as rolig says, the marketers felt the need to "talk down" to the Americans. I can understand it but in this case I'm not sure it was necessary.

    March 13, 2008

  • Nah, I was referring specifically to "the public don't know what they're missing, poor deprived wretches." They probably do. I think everyone at all interested in Harry Potter probably knows by now that there's a difference in the U.K. and U.S. titles of that particular volume. I know perfectly well what a philosopher's stone is, and I'm fairly well educated and certainly literate, but even so, when I hear the word "philosopher," I still think of some old, craggy, pasty white man who dresses in tweed blazers with those suede patches on the elbows and Thinks Big Thoughts all day, at least when he's not eating crumpets. I'm not even the target demographic for selling a fantasy novel (far from it), so if that's what I think, imagine the publisher's or marketing department's thoughts when they found this incredible book they wanted to sell to American kids. And at any rate, we're having this conversation right now about the difference in terms and how "philosopher" used to mean "natural philosopher" or what we would call a scientist... so I say everything turned out all right in the end.

    I have to go have my crumpet now.

    March 13, 2008

  • I'm not sure this is so much a slam on Americans (if I understand you right, c_b), but a comment on the U.S. media's apparent feeling that they need to talk down to people. They may be right, given the long and much-discussed tradition of American anti-intellectualism in which anything that smacks of erudition is suspected of elitism and haughtiness. But they overdo it; they are too worried about reaching out to Joe Sikspak, and don't realize that Mr. S. might actually be interested in finding out something about philosophy, alchemy, and history.

    March 13, 2008

  • This happens all the time in publishing, and it isn't just in titles. There are also text differences between U.S. and U.K./European editions of many books, merely because certain turns of phrase or words for common objects differ among English-speaking countries.

    In my experience, you're probably thinking more carefully about the title change than the editors who originally suggested it. To them, it's simple marketing, as yarb says. :-)

    March 13, 2008

  • That's the second slam on regular folks (and specifically on Americans) that I've seen here today on Wordie. That's kind of ... interesting...

    March 13, 2008

  • Wouldn't 'Alchemist's Stone' have been a less excessive compromise?

    The public don't know what they're missing, poor deprived wretches.

    ~VanishedOne, M.A. (Philosophy) Dunelm

    March 13, 2008

  • I agree. But most people don't know that, old-style "natural philosophers" now being called scientists, and think of philosophers as dull (if they think of them as anything at all) in contrast to sorcerors who are seen as teh alsome. So I can see why they did from a marketing perspective.

    March 12, 2008

  • This one really annoyed me. A philosopher's stone is a very specific thing. The plot hinges on a philosopher's stone and the particular properties and benefits it brings its owner. A sorcerer's stone on the other hand is nothing at all.

    March 12, 2008

  • JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    Published in the US as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (also the name of the movie, in the US only)

    March 12, 2008