In his embryological treatise De plastica seminis facultate , Jacob Schegk , professor of philosophy and medicine at the University of Tübingen, developed, through a unique interpretation of the Aristotelian embryology, a theory of the "plastic faculty" , whose origin lay in the Galenic idea of the formative power. The present study analyses the precise nature of Schegk's theory, by setting it in its historical and intellectual context. It will also discuss the hitherto unappreciated Neoplatonic dimension of Schegk's notion of (...) the soul's vehicle. (shrink)
Exploring Renaissance humanists’ debates on matter, life and the soul, this volume addresses the contribution of humanist culture to the evolution of early modern natural philosophy so as to shed light on the medical context of the ...
Organogenesis and metamorphosis require the intricate orchestration of multiple types of cellular interactions and signaling pathways. Glutamate (Glu) is an excitatory extracellular signaling molecule in the nervous system, while Ca2+ is a major intracellular signaling molecule. The first Glu receptors to be cloned are Ca2+‐permeable receptors in mammalian brains. Although recent studies have focused on Glu signaling in synaptic mechanisms of the mammalian central nervous system, it is unclear how this signaling functions in development. Our recent article demonstrated that Ca2+‐permeable (...) AMPA‐type Glu receptors (GluAs) are essential for formation of a photosensitive organ, development of some neurons, and metamorphosis, including tail absorption and body axis rotation, in ascidian embryos. Based on findings in these embryos and mammalian brains, we formed several hypotheses regarding the evolution of GluAs, the non‐synaptic function of Glu, the origin of GluA‐positive neurons, and the neuronal network that controls metamorphosis in ascidians. (shrink)
Although the "sceptical chymist" Robert Boyle is generally known as an experimental natural philosopher, he was also the child of a culture of bookish erudition. By quoting diverse classical, medieval, Renaissance and contemporary authors, he gave to his readers the impression that he could avail himself of a very wide range of sources. In some cases, however, his apparent erudition was largely dependant on contemporary doxographical commonplace-books. This article unveils one of these books, Johann Gerhard's Decas quaestionum physico-chymicarum de metallis (...) , which served Boyle as his secret source for past authoritative views on the issue of the growth of metals. We also discuss the way in which he manipulated the information he found in this book in order to increase the credibility of his own discourse. (shrink)
Inspired by Christian Platonism as developed in the late fifteenth-century Florentine milieu, the French physician Jean Fernel proposed a particular interpretation of Galen in a medico-philosophical work entitled On the Hidden Causes of Things . With this interpretation, he responded to the serious and urgent need for a reconciliation of the newly reconstituted Galen of Renaissance humanism with Christian faith. The present study examines Fernel's strategy and method in constructing this singular Galenic body of doctrine, special attention being given to (...) the roles attributed to the Creator, the formative force, and the soul. Subsequently, an analysis of the notions of spirit and of its innate heat as indispensable instruments of Fernel's physiology will uncover the very target of his criticism of materialism. (shrink)
Summary The famous Jesuit father Athanasius Kircher (1602?1680) tried to interpret the Creation of the world and to explain the origin of life in the last book of his geocosmic encyclopedia, Mundus subterraneus (Amsterdam, 1664?1665). His interpretation largely depended on the ?concept of seeds? which was derived from the tradition of Renaissance ?chymical? (chemical and alchemical) philosophy. The impact of Paracelsianism on his vision of the world is also undeniable. Through this undertaking, Kircher namely developed a corpuscular theory for the (...) spontaneous generation of living beings. The present study examines this theory and its relationship with Kircher's chymical interpretation of the Creation in order to place it in its own intellectual and historical context and will uncover one of its most important sources. (shrink)
The treatise On Formative Power of Ferrara's emblematic medical humanist, Nicolò Leoniceno , is the one of the first embryological monographs of the Renaissance. It shows, at the same time, the continuity of medieval Arabo-Latin tradition and the new elements brought by Renaissance medical humanism, namely through the use of the ancient Greek commentators of Aristotle like Simplicius. Thus this treatise stands at the crossroad of these two currents. The present study analyses the range of Leoniceno's philosophical discussion, determines its (...) exact sources and brings to light premises for the early modern development of the concept of formative force, which will end up in the theory of "plastic nature" at the heart of the Scientific Revolution. (shrink)