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The French Paracelsians

The French Paracelsians
The Chemical Challenge to Medical and Scientific Tradition in Early Modern France


  • Date Published: August 2002
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521894449

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About the Authors
  • The scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is normally characterised in terms of astronomy and the physics of motion. In The French Paracelsians, first published in 1992, Allen Debus narrates an important episode whose contribution to the scientific revolution has been largely ignored: the long-standing contention between Paracelsians and Galenists. Shortly after the medical authority of Galen had been re-established during the Renaissance, Paracelsus, a Swiss-German firebrand, proposed a new approach to natural philosophy and medicine - through chemistry. The resulting debate between Paracelsians and Galenists lasted more than a century, embroiling medical establishments across Europe. In France the debate was particularly bitter, with the Medical Faculty in Paris determined to keep out of all fields of chemistry medicine. Debus elucidates this important polemic, not only in regard to Paracelsian pharmaceutical chemistry and clinical cosmology, but also the development of chemical physiology, and its struggle with seventeenth-century medicine dominated by mechanical philosophy.

    • Describes the impact of chemistry on medicine
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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2002
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521894449
    • length: 268 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.553kg
    • contains: 25 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    1. Paracelsism and medical tradition
    2. Chemistry and medicine in France: the early years
    3. Paris and Montpellier: the great chemical debates
    4. Chemical continuity and the new philosophy
    5. Alchemy and the chemical philosophers in the early eighteenth century
    6. Postscript

  • Author

    Allen George Debus

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