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 .. (shrink)
Starting from the works by Aselli on the milky veins and Harvey on the motion of the heart and the circulation of the blood, the practice of vivisection witnessed a resurgence in the early modern period. I discuss some of the most notable cases in the century spanning from Aselli’s work to the investigations of fluid pressure in plants and animals by Stephen Hales. Key figures in my study include Johannes Walaeus, Jean Pecquet, Marcello Malpighi, Reinier de Graaf, Richard Lower, (...) Anton Nuck, and Anton de Heide. Although vivisection dates from antiquity, early modern experimenters expanded the range of practices and epistemic motivations associated with it, displaying considerable technical skills and methodological awareness about the problems associated with the animals being alive and the issue of generalizing results to humans. Many practitioners expressed great discomfort at the suffering of the animals; however, many remained convinced that their investigations were not only indispensable from an epistemic standpoint but also had potential medical applications. Early modern vivisection experiments were both extensive and sophisticated and cannot be ignored in the literature of early modern experimentation or of experimentation on living organisms across time. (shrink)
Leibniz's dispute with Newton over the physico-mathematical theories expounded in the Principia Mathematica have long been identified as a crucial episode in the history of science. Dr. Bertoloni Meli examines several hitherto unpublished manuscripts in Leibniz's own hand illustrating his first reading of and reaction to Newton's Principia. Six of the most important manuscripts are here edited for the first time. Contrary to Leibniz's own claims, this new evidence shows that he had studied Newton's masterpiece before publishing An Essay (...) on the Causes of Celestial Motions. This article, representing his response to Newton, is included here in English translation. Dr. Bertoloni Meli analyses the important implications of this episode on a variety of themes ranging from priority claims to the mathematization of nature in the seventeenth century. Besides providing a careful study of Leibniz's style and strategy, the author examines how our perception of Newton's achievement is affected and the reception of the rival theories by the mathematical community around 1700. "Bertoloni's book provides a very detailed and deep analysis of Leibniz's calculus and dynamics by focusing on a consistent and important set of previously unknown manuscripts..." Niccolo Guicciardini, Universita de Bologna "...Equivalence and Priority is a major contribution to our understanding of the development of mathematical physics in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century." Daniel Garber, University of Chigago. (shrink)
Numerical tables are important objects of study in a range of fields, yet they have been largely ignored by historians of science. This paper contrasts and compares ways in which numerical tables were used by Galileo and Mersenne, especially in the Dialogo and Harmonie Universelle. I argue that Galileo and Mersenne used tables in radically different ways, though rarely to present experimental data. Galileo relied on tables in his work on error theory in day three of the Dialogo and also (...) used them in a very different setting in the last day of the Discorsi. In Mersenne's case they represent an important but so far unrecognized feature of his notion of universal harmony. I conclude by presenting a classification of different ways in which tables were used within the well-defined disciplinary and temporal boundaries of my research. In doing so, however, I provide a useful tool for extending similar investigations to broader domains. (shrink)
Summary The investigation and representation of insects in the seventeenth century posed huge problems: on the one hand, their size and texture required optical tools and fixation techniques to disentangle and identify their tiny parts; on the other, the esoteric nature of those parts required readers to make sense of images alien to their daily experiences. Naturalists and anatomists developed sophisticated techniques of investigation and representation, involving tacit and unusual conventions that even twentieth-century readers found at times baffling. This essay (...) develops a comparative approach based on seven pairs of investigations involving Francesco Stelluti, Francesco Redi, Giovanni Battista Hodierna, Robert Hooke, Marcello Malpighi, and Jan Swammerdam. Seen together, they document an extraordinary time in the study of insects and reconstruct a number of iconographic dialogues shedding light on the conventions and styles adopted. (shrink)
Moving from Paris, Pisa, and Oxford to London, Amsterdam, and Cambridge, this essay documents extensive collaborations between anatomists and mathematicians. At a time when no standard way to acknowledge collaboration existed, it is remarkable that in all the cases I discuss anatomists expressed in print their debt to mathematicians. The cases I analyze document an extraordinarily fertile period in the history of anatomy and science and call into question historiographic divisions among historians of science and medicine. I focus on Steno's (...) Myology, showing how his collaboration with mathematician Viviani led to a geometrical treatment of muscular contraction and to an epistemology inspired by Galileo. The collaboration between Steno and Viviani enables us to interpret a major text in the history of anatomy, one whose implications had so far eluded historians. (shrink)
Over the last few years a resurgence of Newtonian studies has led to a deeper understanding of several aspects of his Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica. Besides the new translation of Newton's masterpiece, these contributions touched on his mathematical style, investigative method, experimental endeavors, and conceptual systematization of key notions in mechanics and the science of motion, hereafter New translation. Readers can find a useful bibliography on Newton in I.B. Cohen and G. Smith, eds, The Cambridge Companion to Newton, 465–80.). With (...) regard to the last topic, recent works have identified two notions where Newton's choices look unclear and scholarly opinion is divided. These notions are materiae vis insita or vis inertiae, namely the inherent force of matter or force of inertia, and vis centrifuga or centrifugal force. It is my conviction that the two notions became inter-related in Newton's thought starting from the time of composition of the Principia and that a new look at them will simultaneously clarify matters about both. Newton's beliefs about the nature of centrifugal force did not affect his calculations of planetary and cometary orbits in the Principia, but they are none the less of considerable intellectual interest.After a brief introduction on Huygens and the early Newton, Sect. 2 focuses on Newton's views in the Principia and its preliminary manuscripts. Section 3 presents a summarized account of Leibniz's views, which are necessary for understanding Newton's criticism of them. This is the subject of Sect. 4, where we find his views most fully spelled out. (shrink)
The present paper contains a full transcription, with commentary and introduction, of two hitherto unknown manuscripts by Leibniz on Newton's Principia mathematica. Both manuscripts were probably written in Rome in 1689. Leibniz's interest focused in particular on Newton's concept of vanishing quantities and last ratios, on the notion of force and on the cause of gravity. An edition of further unknown manuscripts by Leibniz on the Principia and on planetary motion is in progress and will appear in the sequel.
The problem of generalization was a vexing one in anatomical investigations: when was it legitimate to generalize from one individual observed or dissected at a given time to the same individual at different times, or to individuals of the same species, or even to individuals from different species altogether? Views on these matters varied widely from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment and guided different research programs based on opposite assumptions. A growing basis of empirical results made anatomists aware of the (...) dangers of hasty generalizations. The problem of reproduction in animals and plants led to especially startling findings that shattered naïve assumptions about the uniformity of nature. Yet, from a multitude of seemingly unpredictable results, new, equally unpredictable patterns and analogies emerged, leading to the discovery of sexual reproduction in plants, for example. Snails and horsetails proved especially challenging in this context. (shrink)
The aim of this special issue is to address issues surrounding the use of live animals in experimental procedures in the pre-modern era, with a special emphasis on the technical, anatomical, and philosophical sides. Such use raises philosophical, scientific, and ethical questions about the nature of life, the reliability of the knowledge acquired, and animal suffering.
This book contains an edition of several hitherto unpublished manuscripts in Leibniz's hand illustrating his first reading of and reaction to Newton's Principia Mathematica. Dr Bertoloni Meli examines the important implications of this new material on our views about priority claims, the mathematization of nature, and the equivalence of rival theories in the seventeenth century.
Diesen Ausführungen liegt eine Auswahl von Leibniz' Briefen und Aufsätzen zugrunde‚ die sein Interesse an der Aufhebung der Zensur des kopernikanischen Systems bekunden. Die hier gesammelten Dokumente stammen aus den Jahren 1684 bis 1705 und enthalten Auszüge aus der Korrespondenz mit dem Landgrafen Ernst von Hessen-Rheinfels sowie Briefe und Memoranda von der italienischen Reise und Passagen aus dem Specimen Dynamicum und den Nouveaux Esseais. Im besonderen wird gezeigt, daß der von Louis Couturat als Vorrede zum Phoranomus herausgegebene Aufsatz als ein (...) vom Phoranomus unabhängiges Werk betrachtet werden muß.Ferner wird ein neuer Korrespondent von Leibniz als der italienische Jesuit Antonio Baldigiani identifiziert. Sodann wird die sogenannte „Zweite Bearbeitung“ vom Tentamen de Motuum Coelestium Causis datiert und es wird dargelegt‚ daß dieser Aufsatz im Rahmen der Auseinandersetzung Leibnizens mit der Zensur zu verstehen ist. (shrink)