WHAT COULD THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE BE?
In my youth I would regularly be found reading a book related to either the Holy Grail or the Philosopher’s Stone. At times, the authors of these books would interchange the terms, implying that they were the same. Perhaps they are.
In reading these books, especially those more focussed on the term (or subject) Philosopher’s Stone, I quickly realized how broad the general interpretation of this item/concept was. To some, including the authors of novels like Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s Stone in some countries), the term denotes a magical stone. Yet, in some alchemical texts it is a metaphor for turning lead into gold. For others it is a device linked to everlasting youth… The list goes on and on. The only common element amongst all the stories and studies is simply the name, the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’.
This raises an observation: instead of a ‘name’ for this item, we actually have a term. For example, in the Star Wars films we have the good guys, the ‘Jedi’ and the bad guys, the ‘Sith’. Both are made-up words to describe a unique concept. As we watch the films, being told these descriptions, we accept and recognise them, not only distinctly for the context of the plot, but also in social discussion. Yet, whatever the Philosopher’s Stone is, it is not a totally unique word, but rather two words put together to create a term that is meant to represent something unique. So, what it is actually intended to be should logically relate to how we would review these two words, both individually and collectively.
Indeed, it could be possible that it is just a creative phrase which gained popularity; that the peculiar combining of two unrelated concepts created an enigmatic expression which conveyed an enigma. Or it is possible that the key to discovering the (or ‘a’) Philosopher’s Stone is actually in the words itself.
For example, the first term is ‘philosopher’. This almost universally conjures the image of a scholar using logic and reason to answer the meaning to life, to creation, to the divine; while the term ‘stone’ could either be seen literally, as a small rock, or as something emotive. Thus, we call someone ‘our rock’, as if they were someone we could rely on in times of need. St Peter is considered the ‘rock’ of the church, conveying him as a firm/solid foundation. Thus, the term ‘stone’, if taken in recognition of all physical matter, especially in the classical sense, is seen as a metaphor of something solid, real and unchanging.
If this is the case, then a nice curiosity exists between the combining of these two words, as philosophy is not based in fact, but rather in ‘reason’ and ‘logic’; when a philosopher puts forward a theory, it is exactly that, a theory. Hence, what would be the greatest possession of a philosopher? Perhaps a factual/real/solid answer to a theoretical question. This would be extremely rare, if not impossible, for the nature of what philosophy is (by stating this paradox) implies not only what the Philosopher’s Stone could be, but also that it has the attributed value of rarity.
So what could be a Philosopher’s Stone? I guess something solid that could prove the existence of God, or the meaning of life or creation… Anything that we would normally attribute only to a theory, but is answered by a solid fact, a real tangible reality that could not be denied by anyone, because it would be as real as a stone in your hand.