Dissection and Vivisection in the European Renaissance: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Dissection and Vivisection in the European Renaissance

1st Edition

By Roger French


300 pages

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Hardback: 9781859283615
pub: 1999-05-28
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Why did medical men of the European Middle Ages and Renaissance make it a central point of medical education to cut the bodies of condemned criminals into their smallest parts, and perform experiments on vivisected animals? Neither had any direct medical relevance, and the purpose of this book is to discover what lay at the basis of these practices, what purpose they served and what cultural circumstances made them possible and desirable. The book offers a series of answers based on the religious, intellectual and social circumstances that were particularly European. Beliefs about the body and soul, the compartmentalised nature of late medieval academic and intellectual life, the economic pressures and market forces that governed the trade of medicine and the specialty of anatomy are all examined. The illustrations generated by these circumstances and by the arts of the woodcut and of printing are given special attention.


’…instructive and valuable.’ Renaissance Quarterly ’…a learned and fascinating examination of the many reasons for the production of anatomical knowledge during the Renaissance.’ Journal of the History of Biology, Vol. 34 (2001) '… an original approach to the history of anatomy up to the medical revolution of the seventeenth century. It offers sharp insights into a number of exciting topics and thus stimulates the reader to pursue French's innovative research program further…' ISIS 'By situating human and animal dissection in a history of experimentalism… French's study raises important questions about how physicians regarded both as forms of investigation.' British Journal for the History of Sciences 'Roger French's fine book provides… a learned and elegant account…' Sixteenth Century Journal '… a fascinating, well-written, erudite tale of Renaissance medicine. I recommend it highly to students of Renaissance and early modern medicine, and to teachers of medical history.' Canadian Bulletin of Medical History '… an extremely accessible text,… filled with impressive primary sources, and augmented by numerous illustrations,… a must-read for all historians of medicine and is highly recommended to any historian of science…' Hist. Phil. Life Sci.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; The European body; The uses of anatomical knowledge; Bologna and Padua: anatomical rationalities; Animals, Christian man and Nature: emulating the ancients; Denying the ancients; Vivisection; The image of God; Dissection and discovery: the newest Aristotle; Epilogue: experimental philosophy; Bibliography; Index.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General