Nature, Science and Natural Philosophy in Sixteenth-Century German Lands



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Nature, Science and Natural Philosophy in Sixteenth-Century German Lands

S. Kusukawa; sk111@cam.ac.uk


This set of lectures and seminars examines sixteenth-century concepts of nature, science and natural philosophy. This period is often seen as the beginning of the distintegration of traditional philosophy, in the face of new world discoveries and the rise of empiricism. This course challenges this simplistic view by studying how traditional natural philosophy adopted new developments, but in turn also spurred on new attitudes and ideas. We will take a contextual approach, by examining the importance of humanist ideas of history, dialectics, language, and ideal bodies, and the effect of the reformations and confessionalisation. This is potentially a large topic: of course the German lands were part of a larger intellectual and scientific world of Europe, but here, we will concentrate on German contributions. As it is not possible to provide a comprehensive or systematic account in a space of 4 weeks, each week I will focus on one branch of the study of nature and offer snapshots within that field of study.






Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Themes

Earth

The Heavens

The Human Body

Plants, Animals, Monsters

Lectures

28 June

5 July

12 July

19 July

Mondays

13.30-15.00



Introduction & ‘The New World’

Astronomy, Astrology and Calendars

Anatomy

Natural History

S1

29 June

6 July

13 July

20 July

intermediate

Tuesdays


10.00-12.00

New Plants and New Diseases


Calendars: Continuity or Change?

Vesalius: Theory and Practice


Monsters: the Case of the Monkfish

S2

1 July

8 July

15 July

22 July

intermediate & advanced

Thursdays

10.00-12.00


Cosmography and Cannibals


Kepler, Astrology and History

Vesalius and Galen


Natural History of Particulars



Tutorials

30 June

7 July

14 July

21 July

Wednesdays

14.00-16.00

















Lectures, seminars and tutorials will be in English, but Proseminar- or Hauptseminar-essays may be submitted in either German or English.




Lectures


will last for 90 minutes. An outline of the lectures, handouts, and bibliography will be provided for each lecture. The lectures function as an introduction and background to the seminars.

Tutorials


will focus on historiographic issues. From the materials we study and lessons we learn from them in the lectures and seminars, we will examine more generally how to practice intellectual history, in particular history of science/scientific thought, how to avoid anachronisms and how to desist from making artificial distinctions. Below are some readings to get us started, but I also welcome suggestions for topics to discuss or material to read and discuss.
Suggested Readings:

Week 1: J. Burton Russell, Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and the modern Historians, New York, 1991, chapters 3 and 4.

Week 2: R. W. Scribner, ‘The Reformation, popular magic and the “Disenchantment of the World”’, Journal of interdisciplinary History 3 (1993), 475-494.

Week 4: L. Daston, ‘The nature of nature in early modern Europe’, Configurations 6 (1998), 149-172.



Seminars


Under each session, I have listed:

(i) question(s) to be discussed

**Please note that some of the questions are deliberately provocative.**

(ii) primary sources on which to base the answers to (i)

(iii) secondary sources for background and help

(iv) further bibliography

Please read (ii) and (iii) in order to be able to participate in the sessions.

Items with asterisks will be available as xeroxes.




S1.1. New Plants and New Diseases


(i) Were New World plants treated differently from Old World plants in herbals?
(ii) John Gerard, The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes, London, 1597, pp. 285-289 (II.63: tobacco); 612-614 (II.247: sunflower); 656-657 (II.271: wild buglosse – an Old World Plant)* (also available at http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home).

Ulrich Hutten, Of the wood named Guaiac, London, 1536, A[1]r-3r (ch. 1: The begynnyng of the Frenche Poxe), 10v-12v (chapter 6: The discription of Guaiacum, and the fyndynge thereof and name)* (also available at http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home).


(iii) A. Grafton, N. Siraisi and A. Shelford, New Worlds, Ancient Texts, New York, 1992, ch. 4: ‘Drugs and Diseases’.
(iv) J. Arrizabalaga, J. Henderson, and R. French, The Great Pox: the French disease in Renaissance Europe, New Haven and London, 1997, ch. 5: The French Disease in Northern Europe.

J. Worth Estes, ‘The reception of American drugs in Europe, 1500-1650’, in S. Varey et al. (eds), Searching for the secrets of nature: the life and works of Dr. Francisco Hernández, Stanford, 2000, pp. 111-121.

P. H. Smith and P. Findlen (eds), Merchants and marvels: commerce, science and art in early modern Europe, New York and London, 2002.

W. Eamon, ‘Cannibalism and Contagion: framing syphilis in Counter-Reformation Italy’, Early Science and Medicine 3 (1998), 1-31.


S1.2. Calendars: continuity or change?

(i) Sixteenth-century calendars appear to show little evidence of an ‘astronomical revolution’. Why?

To what extent did the Lutheran Reformation transform the function of calendars?
(ii) selection from: P. Heitz, Hundert Kalender-Inkunabeln, text, K.Haebler Strasbourg 1905.*

selection from: M. Geisberg, The German single-sheet woodcut: 1500-1550, rev. and ed. W. L. Strauss, New York 1974, 4 vols.*

Paul Eber, Calendarium Historicum, Wittenberg, 1573, 8-9 April; 11-12 July;10-11 November.*
(iii) J. D. North, 'The reluctant revolutionaries. Astronomy after Copernicus', Studia Copernicana 3 (1975): 169-184.

R. Kolb, For all the Saints: changing perceptions of martyrdom and sainthood in the Lutheran Reformation, Macon, 1987, chapter one: Saints and Martyrs at Wittenberg.*

B. Blackburn and L. Holford-Stevens, The Oxford companion to the year: an exploration of calendar customs and time-reckoning, Oxford, 1999, will help you work out some of the inscriptions in the calendars.
(iv) Karl-Heinrich Bieritz, Das Kirchenjahr: Feste, Gedenk- und Feiertage in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Berlin, 1986.

Hermann Grotefend, Taschenbuch der Zeitrechnung des deutschen Mittelalters und der Neuzeit, Hannover und Leipzig 1910, still essential for historical studies of calendars.

Walther Thüringer, “Paul Eber (1511-1569). Melanchthons Physik und seine Stellung zu Copernicus,” in H. Scheible, ed. Melanchthon in seinen Schülern, Wiesbaden, 1997, pp. 285-321.

Arno Borst, Computus : Zeit und Zahl in der Geschichte Europas, Berlin, 1991.




S1.3. Vesalius: theory and practice


(i) In what sense was Vesalius a humanist?

How does Vesalius use pictures in the dissection hall? (for figures of the azygos vein, see Cunningham, figs 4.2 and 4.14)

(ii) extracts from: A. Vesalius, On the fabric of the human body, tr. W. F. Richardson with J. B. Carman, San Francisco, 1998, 2- vols.*

extracts from: B. Heseler, Andreas Vesalius’ first public anatomy at Bologna 1540, an eyewitness report, ed. and tr. Ruben Eriksson, Uppsala and Stockholm, 1959.*


(iii) A. R. Cunningham, The anatomical Renaissance: the resurrection of the anatomical projects of the ancients, Aldershot, 1997, ch. 4.*
(iv) see also S2.3 (iv)

Some of the original woodcuts were held in München, see A. Vesalius, Icones anatomicae, New York and München, 1934. Alas, destroyed in the last war.

J. B. de C. M. Saunders, and C. D. O’Malley, The illustrations from the works of Andreas Vesalius of Brussels: with annotations and translations, a discussion of the plates and their background, authorship and influence, and a biographical sketch of Vesalius, Cleveland, 1950.

Charles D. O’Malley, Andreas Vesalius of Brussels, 1514-1564, Berkeley, 1965.

N. Siraisi, ‘Vesalius and human diversity in De humani corporis fabrica’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 57 (1994), 60-88.

C. E. Kellet, ‘Sylvius and the Reform of Anatomy’, Medical History 5 (1961), 101-116.

A. Carlino, ‘“Know thyself.” graphic communication and anatomical knowledge in early modern Europe,’ Res 27 (1995), 731-769.

S1.4. Monsters: the Case of the Monkfish

(i) Is it possible to distinguish between ‘popular’ and ‘elite’ attitudes towards the monkfish?

(ii) P. Belon, De aquatilibus libri duo, Paris, 1552, pp. 37-39 (available from http://gallica.bnf.fr/)*

G. Rondelet, Libri de piscibus marinis, Lyon, 1554, pp. 492-493 (also from http://gallica.bnf.fr/)*

C. Gessner, Historiae animalium, Zurich, 1551-87, 5 vols, vol. 3, p. 521.*

Stefan Hamer (Formschneider), broadside of a monkfish, Nürnberg, 546, from W. L. Strauss, The German single-leaf woodcut, 1550-1600, New York, 1976, p. 393.*

A. Coenen on the monkfish, F. Egmond and P. Mason (eds), The Whale Book: whales and other marine animals as described by Adriaen Coenen in 1585, London, 2003, ‘introduction, pp. viii-xiv, ‘A sea monk’ pp. 126f.*


(iii) W.B. Ashworth, Jr, ‘Natural History and the Emblematic World View’, in R. S. Westman and D. C. Lindberg (eds), Reappraisals of the Scientific Revolution, Cambridge, 1990, 303-332.

L. Daston and K. Park, ‘Monsters: a case study’, in their Wonders and the order of nature, 1150-1750, New York, 1998, chapter 5.

R. W. Scribner, ‘Popular belief’, in his For the sake of simple folk: popular propaganda for the German Reformation, Cambridge, 1981, ch. 5.
(iv) W. Harms, ‘Die kundige Laie und das naturkundliche illustrierte Flugblatt der frühen Neuzeit’, Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte 9 (1986), 227-246.

W. B. Ashworth, Jr ‘The persistent beast: recurring images in early zoological illustrations’ in A. Ellenius, ed. The Natural Sciences and the Arts, Uppsala, 1985, pp. 46-66.

W. A. Coupe, German political satires from the Reformation to the Second World War, Part 1: 1500-1848, White Plains, N.Y, 2 vols.

V. Honemann, S. Griese, F. Eisermann and M. Ostermann (eds), Einblattdrucke des 15. und frühen 16 Jahrhunderts, Probleme, Perspektiven, Fallstudien, Tübingen, 2000.

Laurent Pinon, Livres de zoologie de la Renaissance, une anthologie 1450-1750, 1995.

T. H. Clarke, The rhinoceros : from Dürer to Stubbs, 1515-1799, London, 1986.

Fritz Koreny, Albrecht Dürer und die Tier- und Pflanzenstudien der Renaissance, München, 1985.

S2.1. Cosmography and Cannibals


(i) Did the discovery of the New World and its peoples merely increase or dramatically transform European knowledge?
(ii) H. Schedel, Das Buch der Croniken, Augsburg, 1500, C2a, C2b, on monsters* (also available from http://mdz2.bib-bvb.de/~mdz/index.html).

J. de Mandeville, Itinerarius, Augsburg, 1482, g1a, g3a, on monsters * (also available from http://mdz2.bib-bvb.de/~mdz/index.html).

Sebastian Münster, Cosmographia, Basle, 1552, lib.V: de novis insulis, quomodo, quando, et per quem illae inventae sint, 1099-1106,* focusing on the description of people, You may use another version (either in German or Latin).

selections from H. Wolff (ed.) America : das frühe Bild der Neuen Welt : Ausstellung der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek München, München, 1992.*


(iii) A. Grafton, N. Siraisi and A. Shelford, New Worlds, Ancient Texts, New York, 1992, ch. 3: ‘All Coherence Gone’.

H. J. König, ‘Von den neu gefundenen Inseln, Regionen und Menschen’; ‘Phantastiches und Wirkliches’ in H. Wolff (ed.) America : das frühe Bild der Neuen Welt : Ausstellung der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek München, München, 1992, pp. 103-110.

K. H. Burmeister, Sebastian Münster: Versuch eines biographischen Gesamtbildes, Basler Beiträge zur Geschichtswissenschaft, 91, Basel und Stuttgart, pp.108-185.
(iv) see also S1.1.(iv)

Focus Behaim-Globus: Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg, 2. Dezember 1992 bis 28. Februar 1993, Nürnberg 1992, 2 vols.

The captivity of Hans Stade of Hesse in A.D. 1547-1555, among the wild tribes of eastern Brazil, tr. A. Tootal, London, 1874.

W. Raleigh, A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia. The complete 1590 Theodor de Bry edition, intro. Paul Hulton, New York, 1972.



The Drake Manuscript in the Pierpoint Morgan Library: Histoire Naturelle des Indes, London, 1996.

M. de Montaigne, Essays, London, 1987, tr. M. A. Screech, I. 31: ‘On cannibals’.

F. Lestringant, Mapping the Renaissance World: The Geographical Imagination in the Age of Discovery, tr. D. Faussett, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1994, esp. chapters 3 and 4.

F. Lestringant, The discovery and representation of the cannibal from Columbus to Jules Verne, Cambridge, 1997.

S. Varey et al. (eds), Searching for the secrets of nature: the life and works of Dr. Francisco Hernández, Stanford, 2000.

I. Maclean, Montaigne als Philosoph, München, 1998.

R. Fox, (ed.), Thomas Harriot: An Elizabethan Man of Science, Aldershot, 2000

S2.2. Kepler, astrology and history


(i) How were history and astrology important to Kepler?
(ii) Johannes Kepler, On Giving Astrology Sounder Foundations [1602], ‘introduction’ trans. J. V. Field, in J. V. Field, ‘A Lutheran Astrologer: Johannes Kepler’, Archive for History of Exact Sciences 31, 1984, pp. 229-231.

Johannes Kepler, Tabulae Rudolfinae (1627), frontispiece illustration (found in the article by Gingerich, below).


(iii) J. V. Field, ‘A Lutheran Astrologer: Johannes Kepler’, Archive for History of Exact Sciences 31, 1984, pp. 190-225.

http://www.hps.cam.ac.uk/starry/kepler.html.

O. Gingerich, ‘Johannes Kepler and the Rudolfine Tables’, in his The Great Copernicus Chase and other adventures in astronomical history, Cambridge, 1992, ch. 15.*

Anthony Grafton "Kepler as a Reader", Journal of the History of Ideas 53 (1992) 561-572, available from http://uk.jstor.org/journals/00225037.html.


(iv) J. R. Voelkel, Johannes Kepler and the New Astronomy, Oxford, 1999, slim and easy introduction.

M. Caspar, Kepler, 1948, English tr. 1959, still the definitive biography (updated notes by Segonds and Gingerich in the English edition, 1993, are very useful).



S2.3. Vesalius and Galen


(i) How do text and image form an argument for Vesalius?

Who was more ‘faithful’ to Galen, Vesalius or Sylvius?


(ii) extracts from: Andreas Vesalius, (1998-). On the fabric of the human body, tr. W. F. Richardson with J. B. Carman, San Francisco, 2- vols.*
(iii) A. R. Cunningham, The anatomical Renaissance: the resurrection of the anatomical projects of the ancients, Aldershot, 1997, ch. 4.*
(iv) See also S1.3. (iv).

J. J. Bylebyl, ‘The school of Padua: humanistic medicine in the sixteenth century’, in C. Webster, ed. Health, medicine and mortality in the sixteenth century, Cambridge, 1979, pp. 335-370.

J. B. de C. M. Saunders and Charles D. O'Malley, The illustrations from the works of Andreas Vesalius of Brussels, Cleveland, 1950.

Some of the illustrations of the Fabrica are available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/historicalanatomies/vesalius_home.html.



S2.4 Natural History of Particulars


(i) Was Gesner’s natural history more philological than empirical?

How did the status of history (relative to natural philosophy) change during the sixteenth century?


(ii) ‘monkey, ape, baboon, satyr and monsters’, ‘rhinoceros’, in Edward Topsell, The Historie of Fovre-footed Beastes’, London 1607, abridged translation of Conrad Gesner, Historiae animalium, Zurich, 1551-87, 5 vols, pp. 6-18; pp. 594-597* (also available at http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home).
(iii) Arno Seifert, Cognitio historica. Die Geschichte als Namengeberin der frühneuzeitlichen Empirie, Berlin, 1976, chapters 2-4.

W.B. Ashworth, Jr, ‘Natural History and the Emblematic World View’, in R. S. Westman and D. C. Lindberg (eds), Reappraisals of the Scientific Revolution, Cambridge 1990, 303-332.

L. Daston and K. Park, Wonders and the order of nature, 1150-1750, New York, 1998, chapters 4 and 5.
(iv) E, Kessler and I, Maclean (eds), Res et Verba in der Renaissance, Wiesbaden, 2002

A. Grafton and N. Siraisi (eds), Natural particulars: nature and the disciplines in Renaissance Europe, Cambridge, MA, 1999.



A. Serai, Conrad Gesner, ed. M. Cochetti, Rome, 1990.

S. Kusukawa, 'The Historia Piscium (1686)', Notes and Records of the Royal Society 54(2) (2000): 179-197.


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