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Anatomy and the Organization of Knowledge, 1500–1850 by Brian Muñoz, Matthew Landers

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By Brian Muñoz, Matthew Landers

Throughout early sleek Europe, the becoming medical perform of dissection caused new and insightful rules concerning the human physique. This selection of essays explores the effect of anatomical wisdom on wider problems with studying and tradition.

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The frequency of Crooke’s divisions is no accident. Sections, or ‘parts’, take on philosophic importance in the argument for Mikrokosmografia. As with Vesalius, the issue for Crooke is one of systematic arrangement, though at first the organizing Early Modern Dissection as a Model of Organization 17 principle of the text is not always apparent. Book 1 is compendious in the breadth of its topics. 28 Reminiscent of Vesalius’s argument in the preface of De fabrica, each of Crooke’s subjects represents a single partition within a larger philosophical discussion, for which the body of man appears to be an analogue – a microcosm of universal knowledge, as the title suggests.

12 Harvey’s reliance on Fabricius’s Aristotelian approach is clear throughout De motu cordis. The second, third and fourth chapters (those immediately following the author’s explanation of his motives for writing) are devoted to observations of the functioning heart in animals. Working with animals allowed Harvey to perform vivisections and thus to observe the heart in motion, even if only in its final motions. Under the premise that the ‘nature’ of an organ is the same from one species to the next, Harvey then translated his observations of animals to the human body.

As seventeenth-century bank proposals developed from fairly small private arrangements among a select group of merchants or landowners into national finance schemes, the question of credibility became an increasingly difficult issue. At such a scale, national finance operates something like a sophisticated game of musical chairs, for which the music is never meant to stop. The players trust that most of their competitors will not sit down and so remove too many of the secure places in the game.

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