16th Century Elements
What was believed to be the basic building blocks of every single object on Earth and in the universe in the sixteenth century was not even close to what we believe today. I want you to think about our knowledge about the elements today, and how many we have discovered, and recently even started to create. And now I want you to guess how many elements were believed to exist in the 16th century.
The people of the sixteenth century believed that there were only five basic elements existing in the universe. And according to Wikipedia they believed that these five elements were: Water, Fire, Air, Earth and Aether. Based on what we know today about the elements, none of the ones they believed in the sixteenth century were correct. These five elements were and still are known as the classical elements of the sixteenth century.
Every human being was believed to be created by a combination of all the classical elements, and they believed that when a human died all the elements would be released and would return too where they once came. This is what they thought the properties of the five classical elements were:
Water was believed to be primarily cool and secondarily moist. And thought to be every human’s bodily fluids and would return to the sea when a human died.
Air was believed to be primarily moist and secondarily warm. And thought to be every human’s breath and would return to the sky when a human died.
Earth was believed to be primarily dry and secondarily cool. And thought to be every human’s body and would return to the earth when a human died.
Fire was believed to be primarily warm and secondarily dry. And thought to be every human’s conscious and would return to the sun when a human died.
Aether was believed to have no properties and did not go through a circular process like the other classical elements. Aether was also believed to fill the entire universe and would keep the stars up in the sky.
Four of the five classical elements (Water, Air, Earth and Fire) were not established in the sixteenth century but around 470 B.C. by early Greek philosophers. The fifth classical element (Aether) was established by Aristotle around 350 B.C. He hypothesized that the universe was filled with Aether, and that Aether held the stars in the sky.
We now know that the classical elements of the 16th century are not the basic building blocks of life, and that most of the believes about the elements during the sixteenth century are not true. But keep this in mind, the people of the sixteenth century took the classical elements as a given because they did not have the technology available to test there hypothesizes about the elements, and there is a very good chance that what we take as a given may be very wrong as well.