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Download A Subtle and Mysterious Machine: The Medical World of Walter by Emily Booth PDF

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By Emily Booth

Walter Charleton (1619-1707) has been commonly depicted as a typical thinker whose highbrow occupation reflected the highbrow ferment of the ‘scientific revolution’. rather than viewing him as a barometer of highbrow swap, I study the formerly unexplored query of his id as a doctor. analyzing 3 of his vernacular clinical texts, this quantity considers Charleton’s ideas on anatomy, body structure and the tools through which he sought to appreciate the invisible approaches of the physique. even though curious about many empirical investigations in the Royal Society, he didn't supply epistemic primacy to experimental findings, nor did he intentionally establish himself with the empirical equipment linked to the ‘new science’. as an alternative Charleton awarded himself as a scholarly eclectic, following a classical version of the self. Physicians had to suggest either historical and sleek experts, to be able to allure and preserve sufferers. I argue that Charleton’s conditions as a practicing surgeon led to the development of an id at variance with that commonly linked to traditional philosophers. The insights he can provide us into the area of 17th century physicians are hugely major and completely attention-grabbing

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Extra info for A Subtle and Mysterious Machine: The Medical World of Walter Charleton (1619-1707)

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Much recent interest has focused on the construction of the authority of ‘virtuoso’ natural philosophers. A model of such individuals has been generated by Steven Shapin (and formerly also Simon Schaffer), and has been taken up by Peter Dear, John Henry and others, as a way of pinpointing the nature of natural philosophical identity in this period. Where referred to by these historians, Charleton is depicted as adhering to a natural philosophical model whose attributes included active experimentalism, collaborative investigation, the rejection INTRODUCTION 31 of ancient authority and promotion of innovation.

As a consequence, historians such as Shapin and Schaffer have tended to describe ‘scepticism’ as one of the outcomes of the rejection of doctrines, rather than as a consistent position in itself. 62 As an active experimentalist in the Royal Society, Charleton has been placed against the backdrop of prototypical natural philosophers such as John Locke, Robert Boyle and Robert Hooke. His epistemological views are seen by many historians to reveal a classic ‘virtuoso’ profile. Charleton is cited by Shapiro and Schaffer63 as a natural philosopher engaged in the kind of knowledge-production that they identify as generic for that community.

Xiii. Kargon, ‘Introduction’, p. xvii. Westfall, Science and religion, p. 80. REWRITING WALTER CHARLETON 35 constituted a failing. 17 Westfall’s approach does not recognise Charleton’s eclecticism as integral to his epistemology, but rather fixes on the presence of mechanistic thought in the author’s work and generalises it to provide a profile of his world view. ’18 Within late seventeenth-century natural philosophy, according to Osler, the appropriateness of mechanism was not under question. The issue was rather which mechanical model was superior: Cartesian or Gassendian.

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