Natural Philosophy between ancient sources and empirical investigation

Collectionism from Conrad Gessner to Daniel Sennert

  • Date: 08 NOVEMBER 2022  from 17:30 to 19:00

  • Event location: Sala Rossa, Palazzo Marchesini, Via Marsala, 26 - Bologna - In presence and online event

  • Type: Lectures

Major figures of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, such as Conrad Gessner, Ulisse Aldrovandi, Giambattista della Porta and Daniel Sennert all used a mixture of ancient sources and empirical investigation in their writings; they usually worked with collecting empirical evidence to discriminate between the contemporary object and ancient sources to categorize their findings. Comparisons with items mentioned in ancient overview texts such as Aristotle's and Galen's work, but also minor treatises such as(to name an example close to my research), Theophrast's work on smell, would, in collections of the 16th century, provide the theoretical framework to develop the terms and traditions of the natural philosophical field. In a second instance, however, located in the early 17th century, these ancient overviews and the taxonomies they produced create a sideline in medicine-centered university research for a new interest in the disaggregation of collections again into their individual items. This new medical research derived from collectionism, but focused on the items rather than the theories, to make them more adaptable to medical usage, be it in the production of pharmacological medication, or be it in the surgical attempt of making non-functioning body organs work again.


Anja Goeing


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