Talk:Philosopher's stone

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In Modern Physics[edit]

I'd say that it's worth mentioning the modern scientific approach to the issue of "turning base metals (such as lead) into gold". It seems to be quite informative that we have, in a way, created the philosopher's stone. It's called particle accelerator.

And as a reference, just in Jan 2014, Scientific American published an article about it link — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:14, 22 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The title of the article should be "Philosophers' Stone," rather than "Philosopher's Stone." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:56, 31 July 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Citamani not equivalent of Philosopher's Stone[edit]

The Philosopher's Stone is capable of turning base metals into gold, and is possibly an elixir of life. This is not at all the equivalent of a "wish fulfilling jewel".Royalcourtier (talk) 03:07, 18 April 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Philosophers' stone" is not more proper[edit]

After I removed "more properly" from the lead sentence of this article, "The philosopher's stone or more properly philosophers' stone ...", citing WP:OR, editor Apaugasma reinstated it, saying "That the Arabic ḥajar al-falāsifa and the Latin lapis philosophorum translate to philosophers' stone not philosopher's stone is a fact, and "faithfully translating sourced material into English [...] is not considered original research" (Wikipedia:No original research#What is not original research); expert scholars like Lawrence M. Principe use the proper translation (cited in Philosopher's stone#Names)"

That is true, but omits the part of the reasoning that is WP:OR: "Philosophers' stone" is a more faithful translation from the Latin, but implying that this makes it the more proper term in English is WP:OR, specifically WP:SYNTHESIS. The English word has just diverged from its Latin root, as words do. This does not mean that all of the people who use "philosopher's stone" are somehow incorrect. Dan Bloch (talk) 04:09, 11 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's a more proper translation of the original Arabic and Latin terms, and Arabic and Latin texts make up the great majority of the relevant primary sources here. To write about Arabic and Latin texts dealing with the ḥajar al-falāsifa and the lapis philosophorum using the term philosopher's stone would simply be mistaken, and expert scholars don't do this. "More properly" was introduced here by Ajrocke, who is a historian of alchemy and chemistry. I am a historian of alchemy and chemistry. Take any source written by a prominent historian of alchemy and chemistry, like Principe 2013, and you will find philosophers' stone.
I know that we're long post-Essjay, and perhaps this should wait until the article is rewritten based only on high-quality scholarship (at which point all or nearly all sources cited will be using philosophers' stone), but you could also just choose to trust Ajrocke and me. We don't wish to claim that philosopher's stone as used in non-historiographic English sources (i.e., not in reference to the ḥajar al-falāsifa/lapis philosophorum) is somehow wrong. It's used that way in fantasy and other types of popular literature, in which the term underwent a natural linguistic evolution, and writings of this type are by far more prevalent than books written by historians. But the thing is, this article is primarily about the historical usage, and only tangentially about the usage in art and entertainment. Using the term from the latter to write about the former feels jarring, and is ultimately wrong. ☿ Apaugasma (talk ) 05:02, 11 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My issue with this is that the nuance that "proper" refers to the translation and not to correctness of use (in the term's more common metaphorical usage) isn't clear. But you clearly care about this more than I do, so carry on.
Though it might be possible to address both points with an explanatory footnote. Oh well, some other time. Dan Bloch (talk) 03:14, 12 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree that having the lead sentence seemingly make a determination on 'proper' usage is far from ideal, but it's a consequence of the fact that the article is misnamed. The solution is to move the article to Philosophers' stone and to have the lead sentence say "The philosophers' stone (Arabic: ḥajar al-falāsifa, Latin: lapis philosophorum), also known as the philosopher's stone, is a [...]". The reason why I haven't put up a move request is that I know this to be controversial and that to 'properly' (pun intended) convince other editors a deep dive into the sources –indeed a from-scratch rewrite of this mess of an article– would be necessary. Some other time, as you say. ☿ Apaugasma (talk ) 16:06, 12 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Chin up, Apaugasma, it shouldn't be so hard to get it renamed. I, for one, would rename it if you and Dan agree that there are more sources written by historians using the plural form.
For now I'm removing the “more properly” because of Dan's point and what I take as your agreement. Actually, because of MOS:LEADCLUTTER I'll go further, and, taking up Dan's idea of a footnote, will also move that minor spelling alternative out of the first sentence. I'll be happy to switch the two if we decide to rename the article. Apaugasma, I also like your explanations here, which you might want to include in the Art and entertainment section, which is not too big as it is. ◅ Sebastian Helm 🗨 04:53, 8 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Sebastian! Responding to your ping. Sorry, you caught me at a moment when I'm trying to disengage from Wikipedia as much as possible. I'm semi-retiring, and one of the big drivers just so happens to be what I hinted at on this talk about the aftermath of the Essjay controversy. As a reaction to this controversy, editors on decided to radically refuse giving any social capital to editors with subject expertise, insisting that any background knowledge editors might have is 100% irrelevant for anything related to WP. The result has been that the situations described in essays like Wikipedia:Randy in Boise or User:Jnc/Astronomer vs Amateur have very much become reality.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about the situation on this talk page, but rather more about a general atmosphere where it's possible to be providing a disinterested expert opinion and yet be treated like POV-pushing scum by long-standing, influential, but ignorant Wikipedia editors. It's a situation where everyone is standardly assumed to be a POV-pusher unless they are part of a very particular in-crowd of 'experienced Wikipedia editors'. No one deserves to be treated with any special respect unless they have become part of that same in-crowd. Social capital is 100% based on expertise related to Wikipedia, the summit of which is to become an admin, while the academic expertise needed to write high-quality encyclopedic material is considered of no value whatsoever. The top of the line in actual writing is getting an article to FA status, which is awarded by an ad hoc jury of 'experienced WP editors' with no relevant subject expertise whatsoever.
The myth driving all this is that as long as one is using reliable sources, anyone can write a high-quality encyclopedic article. Quod non. To some extent, the GA/FA process does work in the sense that it yields articles which are often of an acceptable quality, and on a more general level Wikipedia articles have notably become more reliable and comprehensive over time. But they do tend to reach a 'glass ceiling', where rising to what academics in the relevant fields would consider high-quality is all but impossible. Wikipedia culture insists on Wikipedia being written by amateurs, and that inevitably shows.
But while the quality suffers, the more salient point is that Wikipedia is simply a hostile environment for academic experts. One has to have a desire for self-punishment to stay on here as an academic. I know that has in a way been true for me personally, as I started editing as a direct result of my professional confidence taking a blow. But I'm done with that now. Until the project finds some way to validate relevant editorial credentials such as degrees and/or academic publications (e.g., through off-wiki verification by arbcom or some other trusted board directly answering to the community), and until editors actually at least give some weight to the verified credentials of those they are dealing with, I don't want to be part of this community anymore. Basically, until a huge wave of other academics chime in, and stay on because their expertise is actually valued, I'm staying away.
At least from the community, that is. It's still possible for any non-engaged editor to boldly rewrite a particularly bad article from scratch. I've found that this creates the least amount of hassle, because the improvement is often more than obvious, and since such a rewrite naturally involves solid sourcing, Wikipedia editors tend to be content with that and pass over it in silence. It's a good way for an academic expert to contribute to Wikipedia without having to engage with its toxic community. This article is a good candidate for such a rewrite, and I might do it someday. As I said before, renaming to Philosophers' stone would then become trivial given the actual usage in high-quality sources. But as a fine example of what I've been talking about in this post, the last thing I want to do is discuss a requested move on a badly sourced article with people who are completely oblivious, especially because one or two of them will inevitably think I'm pushing some kind of POV and treat me like shit for it. Why would I choose to spend my time like that, why would anyone?
So yeah, I see myself coming back to this in the future, but as long as the current wiki-culture remains, only for a complete rewrite. As long as I'm not doing that, I'm not going to meddle with anything you or other editors might choose to do with this article. I have taken this article (and hundreds of others like it) off my watch list, and I'm a happier, more friendly person for it. Thanks for reading this ranty reply. Sincerely, ☿ Apaugasma (talk ) 20:06, 8 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]


This year's edits were over 90% unconstructive and their reversions. It does seem to have abated in recent months, though. If it gets worse again, just ping me and I'll apply WP:SILVERLOCK. ◅ Sebastian Helm 🗨 04:53, 8 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There are many articles like this where almost all edits are unconstructive or disruptive, but they are generally unprotected these days. I believe the reasoning is that disruption is generally successfully reverted, and so articles are only semi-protected when there is a lot of recent disruption in a short time. The idea is I believe that the patrollers ought not to be spared at the cost of IP-users (including a lot of new users) not being able to edit, as long as the patrollers can actually handle the disruption.
I'm fairly confident that if someone were to ask for semi-protection at Wikipedia:Requests for page protection (WP:RFPP) now, they would get refused on the basis of "not enough recent disruption". I've found that the yard stick commonly used is something like 'last 50 edits are mostly disruptive and occurred during the last month or two (depending on the admin)', or 'last 25 edits were disruptive and occurred during the last week or two (depending on the admin)'. There doesn't have to be an awful lot of it, but it has to be both persistent and occurring in a relatively short time.
Since protecting pages against common usage can at times ruffle some feathers, I advise you to get a 'second opinion' for each protection you are about to make by asking for protection at RFPP. When the admins there consistently agree with you, that may be the time to deal out protections of your own again. This kind of caution is highly appreciated in admins these days, and the reverse has lead to some rather sorry cases of older admins being desysopped for not knowing/following current community norms. ☿ Apaugasma (talk ) 20:12, 8 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]