Quicksilver

Isaac Newton is talking to his friend about calulus (though that was not his word for it) Neal Stephenson page 83:

But Daniel, the virtue of this approach is that it doesn’t matter what the actual physical situation is, a curve is ever a curve, and whatever you can do to the curve of a river you can do just as rightly to the curve of a weed-we are free from all that old nonsense now.” Meaning the Aristotelian approach, in which such easy mixing of things with obviously different natures would be abhorrent. All that mattered henceforth, apparently, was what form they adopted when translated into the language of analysis. “Translating a thing into the analytical language is akin to what the alchemist does when he extracts, from some crude ore, a pure spirit, or virtue, or pneuma. The feeces-the gross external forms of things-which only mislead and confuse us-are cast off to reveal the underlying spirit. And when this is done we may learn that some things that are superficially different are, in their real nature, the same.”

This is such a simple idea… yet it is really what archetypes are about as well. We can’t come up with a mathematical formulae – but we come up with a powerful myth or symbol!

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