A new anatomy: Domenico Bertoloni-Meli: Mechanism, experiment, disease: Marcello Malpighi and seventeenth-century anatomy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011, 456pp, $45 PB

Metascience 24 (1):65-69 (2014)
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Abstract

Howard Adelmann’s majestic five volume Marcello Malpighi and the Evolution of Embryology was published nearly 50 years ago. A mix of paraphrase and translation, as well as extended commentary, Adelmann described Malpighi as “one of the cardinal figures in the history of biology. As we look back over the three centuries that separate him from us, he may, for all his towering stature, at first glance seem a distant figure. And yet he and his work are not so remote after all” . Much has changed in the history of biology since Adelmann’s groundbreaking work, and among the many lessons to be taken from Domenico Bertoloni-Meli’s carefully researched, persuasive and, at times, beautifully rendered book is that the life sciences in the early modern period must be studied with an eye to the history of science, medicine and philosophy—i.e., calling Malpighi simply a “biologist” is very liable to mislead. This point, though only implicit in Meli’s choice to study Malpighi “in relati ..

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