SR-06-Paracelsus - transforming ores into metals Elaborate...

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Paracelsus and the powers of Nature Medieval and early modern medical theory was dominated by the writings of Galen (AD 129—216) and his Arabic commentators. Galen’s comprehensive system was comparable to, and related to, Aristotelian natural philosophy. Galenic doctrine of four humors blood (sanguine) phlegm (phlegmatic) yellow bile (choleric) black bile (melancholic) Galen taught that health depended on maintaining the balance of humors appropriate to each individual’s ‘complexio.’ Relied on diet, exercise, and botanical medicines. Galenic physicians were better at diagnosis (especially through examination of urine) than treatment. Renaissance naturalism ’ saw the world as infused with spirit; astrology, alchemy, doctrine of ‘ Man the Microcosm .’ Belief in correspondences and ‘sympathies’ between heavenly bodies and earthly events. Alchemy was rooted in ancient metal-working traditions; ‘magical’ process of
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Unformatted text preview: transforming ores into metals. Elaborate allegories of insemination and birth; secret brotherhood of arcane knowledge. Influenced in 1400s by the translation of ancient Hermetic texts, filled with occult learning and natural magic . Leading Renaissance alchemist was Paracelsus (German/Swiss, 1493–1541). Denounced reliance on ancient learning, particularly Galen and Aristotle; said the only ‘books’ worth studying were Scripture and Nature . Emphasized direct observation, experimentation, manipulation of nature; ideas had wide influence in medicine and natural philosophy after his death. Paracelsians saw Nature as a ‘text’ filled with symbols to be decoded; doctrine of ‘signatures’ held that God had placed clues about cures within chemicals and plants. Paracelsians sought to replace ‘pagan’ Aristotelian/Galenic philosophy and medicine with a Christianized chemical philosophy—God as the great Alchemist....
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