Skip to content

Rafael, The Legend of the Golem

To make my essay about the Golem from the historical perspective, I am struck by the contribution of syncretism to modern sciences, such as medicine, mechanics, robotics, computer science, mathematics. In the reviewed literature, I found names of great pre-modern and modern scientists around the Golem.

The legend of the Golem is widely studied by the rabbis, believing this is the key to master the power of creation.

I also drew attention to the existence of a dichotomy between the rabbis: ones do not care about organic and inorganic components using to build the Golem; others are radical, they do not accept that organic matter is included in the manufacture of the Golem; they think the Golem must built from metals and minerals.  Here are some examples:

1) Some references of golems constructed with organic matter found in, for example the Humunculus of Paracelsus (for some ones is the basis of modern medicine). Other historical data mentioned Aristotle, Mary Shelley (Frankenstein), among others.

2) The literature is more extensive for mechanical Golem (non-organic) called Automaton (singular) or Automata (plural). The oldest references is Homer’s Iliad (850 BC?). Other Golems built by: Hepahestus, Talos, Daedalus, Alinous, Ktesibios, Hero. These Golems are like PLCs, or programmed mechanisms; some of them, according to legend, with aware to do things. The oldest confirmed is the Antikythera mechanism attributed to Archimedes.

It’s amazing that even now, modern chemicals are resistant to the ideas of Alexander Oparin who proposed that organic is the result of an emergent process of the inorganic, this theory seems to be confirmed by the experiment of Stanley Miller.  [BTW: Abiogenesis (life from non-organic), Biogenesis (birth of life), Biopoiesis (Life from spontaneous self-organized processes) are cause from deep and controversial research].

Maybe, due of mechanical determinism, there are several stories around the Brazen Head (Automaton) who answered questions, sometimes with a simple yes or no. It is associated with many people like Roger Bacon, Odin, Boethius, Faust, Tobert Grosseteste, Albertus Magnus, Arnaldus Villa Nova, Enrique de Villena, Vigil, etc.

To bring order to the ideas, I found some references in books and journals.  Main authors are: Lowel Elmajaral Besalem, Jose Luis Borges, Karl Kerenyi, Sefer Yezirá, Gustav Meyrink, Moshe Idel, Mises Cordevero Alemanno, Pope Sylvester II, Margaret Huggins Linsday Oscar Darlington, MS Butler, Homer, Noel Sharkey, Gerard Brett, Harry Henderson, Mark Rosheim.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *