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SR-06-Paracelsus - Paracelsus and the powers of Nature...

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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, especially Ibn Sina (‘Avicenna,’ 980–1037). Galen’s comprehensive system was comparable to, and related to, Aristotelian natural philosophy. Galen advanced the doctrine of four humors : blood (sanguine) phlegm (phlegmatic) yellow bile (choleric) black bile (melancholic) Health depended on using diet, exercise, and botanical medicines to maintain the balance of humors appropriate to each person’s ‘complexio.’ Galenic physicians were better at diagnosis (especially through examination of urine) than treatment. Aristotelian and Galenic ideas were challenged in the 15th and 16th centuries by the rise of ‘ Renaissance naturalism, ’ which 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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