Monday, February 6, 2017

Towards a Reassessment of Renaissance Aristotelianism

Charles B. Schmitt. Hist. Sci., xi (1973), 159-193
1. there were many Renaissance 'aristotelianisms' [160]
2. Thomism, Scotism etc continued into the R. and became more fragmented.
3. While Aristotelianism and scholasticism are to some extent coextensive their differences should not be lost sight of [161]
             a. scholasticism = tradition of school and university textbooks.
4. there always critics and opponents of A…ism.
5. A…ism was still in full bloom for most of the 17th c.
              a. when Gassendi taught a non A. course at Aix it was considered unusual.
6. new materials were accepted into the curriculum while traditional elements were retained
7. in the Laudian Statutes of 1636 the basic strucure of A…ian instructure underwent few changes. In fact, the same works of Aristotle --the Organon, Physics, De caelo, De anima, Metaphysics, Ethics and Politics-- were maintained tha the core of he curriculum.This was at a time when new chairs in various subjects, including fields which had never been taught in the university before were being introduced with some frequency [163, note 22]. In fact the basic Aristotelian structure of the university during that period seems to occasion more alarm and indignation on the part of recent interpreters than it provoked in the 16th and 17th centuries
8. the anatomical teachings of Vesalius and Faloppio were quickly absorbed by Aristotelians [171]
9. we find a blossoming of discussions on scientific methodology during the Renaissance, in part stimulated by the emphasis placed on the study of th Posterior analytics in the statutes of universities of the time.
10. the notion of regressus (the use of a twofold 'method', in which both analytic and synthetic procedures were included ... became a practical procedure for the investigation of natural physical science
11. Harvey's methodological debt to A. is explicit in his introduction to de generatione...the principles of scientific investigation used in his work are derived from Posterior analytics.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Michael Sennert

Emily Michael describes Daniel Sennert as a transitional figure in the history of science. Using non-Thomistic Aristotelian notions of form and substance he created an idea of matter that was both corpuscular and used the concept of form. Such transitional figures tend to fade from the cannon. Teasing their profiles out as she has done reshapes my understanding of history.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Reading 12/13/16

Concretely considered as with W.'s description of epidemic fever of 1661.
Abstractly considered in theories of Fernel, Helmont & W.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Reading 11/9/16

Vance mentioned an article by meyer [who wrote on Willis] on vitalism and its relation to greek ideas. meyer presents a very interesting summary of greek biology as essentially derived from plato, his discussion of vitalism is of less interest,

Meyer, A. ...

started plamper on history of emotions. the intro is superficial, though cogent. I ran into an interview by Plamper with Reddy, Rosenwein and ? , they are interesting as doing history of emotions. though it seems that the 17th and 18th century interest in 'passions' is not their focus. they seem more interested in the interaction between ideas/culture and biology than in evolving theories

Chapter 10 of Vance on Mayerne: M. tried to add chemistry to humoralism. his empiricism was aimed at confirming theoretical positions. the notion of 'condition' allowed him to treat individual patients symptoms, while ignoring theory. By Willis' time the galenic theory could be ignored.

mentions Sigerist's idea that Harvey was a Baroque scientist. Looked up Pagel on this Sigerist's article on Harvey. S. sees H's chief modernity as computation. and sees his Aristotelianism as superficial. Pagel goes on to say that H was chiefly concerned with the aristotlean notion of the purpose of circulation

Reading 11/08/16

 Chapter 9 of Vance on Meyerne discusses the death of Prince Henry in 1612. It is the best depiction of early 17th century doctors at work because they collaboated and discussed what they thought would help and Meyerne wrote a defence against accusations of malpractice.

√√ Howells, J. G. & Osborne, M.L. The Incidence of Emotional Disorder in a seventeeth-century Medical Practice, Medical History, 14 (1970)192-198. List of non psychotic patients seen by Shakespeare's son-in-law, Dr John Hall  (1575-1635) published in 1657 (possibly read by Willis. [Sydenham folder]

-->[annex]  Bates, D. G. Sydenham and the Medical Meaning of Method, BHM li (1977)324-338.

--> [Illiad] Harley, D. Political Post-mortems and morbid anatomy in seventeenth -century England, Social History of Medicine, 12 (1994) 1-28.

Harley, D. Spiritual Physic,Providence and English Medicine 1560-1640, in Medicine and the Reformation, (eds) Grell O.P. and Cunningham A. London Routledge 1993

R. Crawfurd, The Last Days of Charles II (Oxford Clarendon Press, 1909)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Sydenham's disease entities

Sydenham presented himself as a pure empiricist. Taylor argues that Sydenham had unacknowledged allegiance to platonic ideal forms as the basis of an ontology. This would not be Hippocratic, as Hippocratics were only interested in the description of individual patients not the generalization of such descriptions into disease types. It would seem that this ontology was present in his botanic classification of diseases. Pinel picked up both the classification and the descriptive method.  

F. Kraupl Taylor {Psychological medicine, 12 (1982)243-250] The similarity of Sydenham to Hippocrates has been overstated. "Hippocratic doctors had remained largely focused on individual patients, their case histories and prognoses. They were less interested in considering similarities of symptoms among their patients or in deriving from such similarities the theoretical view that some disease entity accounted for them. ...Hippocratics insisted on the uniqueness of the individual patient." Sydenham aimed at a transformation of case-histories, or pathographies, into disease histories or nosographies.

certain substantial forms were responsible for the spontaneous generation of life. It was not until 1860 that Pasteur finally disproved the occurrence of spontaneous generation.

[ordered from annex] L. J.  Rather (1959) Towards a philosophical study of the idea of disease. in The Historical Development of Physiological thought (ed. C. M. Brooks and P. E
Cranefield pp. 351-373 Hafner, New York.
[ordered from IlliadMeyer, A (1929) The tradition of ancient biology and medicine in the vitalistic periods of modern biology and medicine. Bulletin of the Institute of the History of medicine 5, 800-821. Article Request Received. Transaction Number 704480

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mechanism takes command

Bertolini Meli notes that "Whereas Malpighi relied repeatedly on the notion of fermentation to bridge the gap between his anatomical findings and interpretive program, Borelli tried --or pretended-- to dispense with chymical notions and preferred purely mechanical ones, Fermentation and other chymical notions were at least in principle acceptable to Borelli and his colleagues because they were ultimately reducible to the motions, separations, and combinations of particles. In many cases,however, they retained a dubious status not entirely dissimilar from that of the Aristotelian notions the mechanists wished to displace." ... After van Helmont, it was relatively common to refer to fermentation, especially in the mechanical sense favored by Descartes and willis. Borelli's concern was with the uncontrolled proliferation of cymical explanations introduced as ad hoc remedies to the problems of mechanical interpretations. ...The dispute over fermentation was not simply a private affair between Borelli and Malpighi, but had a broader European import. ... Walter Charleton, William Cole, Archibald Pitcairn, and William Cockburn across the channel attacked the notion of fermentation in different contexts. " [Bertolini Meli, loc 5310ff] Here Bertolini Meli refers to Ted Brown's article on the College of Physicians [1970]. Brown insists that Willis was an iatromechanist, but divides the development of iatromechanism into two phases. The first phase was Willisian and gave importance to fermentation. In the second, that Brown calls the eclectic phase, starting in the 1680s, was critical of Willis's notion of fermentation and adhered to the more pruely mechanistic physiology of Borel.   Brown notes that: in 1679 Walter Charleton inclueded as one of his lectures a disquisition of "Fevers." Charleton's discourse aimed to describe the behavior of the animal 'engine." It began with a definition of fever as a corpuscular fermentation of the blood produced by impurities and partly by the subtle, vital spirits in mechanical conflict with these impurities; it continued with an explanation of febrile phenomena by means of which this hypothesis ... [brown, 1970, 23-4]  In 1683 Walter Charleton delivered three new lectures. In these he made Borelli, not Willis, the main spokesman on the 'animal oeconomy,' and very promnently in his first lecture he stopped specifically to ridicule the notion of fermentatiove agitations in smoothly (and mathematically") circulating blood. Two years later Charleton elaborated his critique of Willis' iatromechanical ideas in a treatise on physiology of menstrual flux.[brown, 1970, 24-5]" Notwithstanding Brown's  good reasons for calling Willis an iatromechanist, what seems to matter is that it was in 1683 under the influence of Borelli that the notion of fermentation was read out of the neuteric explanations of physiological phenomena. Was this reading out of the last vestiges of Aristotelian animism that had still been Willisian physiology. Is this the moment when mechanism truely took command?