Mechanism, Experiment, Disease: Marcello Malpighi and Seventeenth-Century Anatomy

Overview

A leading early modern anatomist and physician, Marcello Malpighi often compared himself to that period's other great mind — Galileo. Domenico Bertoloni Meli here explores Malpighi's work and places it in the context of seventeenth-century intellectual life.

Malpighi's interests were wide and varied. As a professor at the University of Bologna, he confirmed William Harvey's theory of the circulation of blood; published groundbreaking studies of human organs; made important ...

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Mechanism, Experiment, Disease: Marcello Malpighi and Seventeenth-Century Anatomy

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Overview

A leading early modern anatomist and physician, Marcello Malpighi often compared himself to that period's other great mind — Galileo. Domenico Bertoloni Meli here explores Malpighi's work and places it in the context of seventeenth-century intellectual life.

Malpighi's interests were wide and varied. As a professor at the University of Bologna, he confirmed William Harvey's theory of the circulation of blood; published groundbreaking studies of human organs; made important discoveries about the anatomy of silkworms; and examined the properties of plants. He sought to apply his findings to medical practice. By analyzing Malpighi's work, the author provides novel perspectives not only on the history of anatomy but also on the histories of science, philosophy, and medicine. Through the lens of Malpighi and his work, Bertoloni Meli investigates a range of important themes, from sense perception to the meaning of Galenism in the seventeenth century.

Bertoloni Meli contends that to study science and medicine in the seventeenth century one needs to understand how scholars and ideas crossed disciplinary boundaries. He examines Malpighi's work within this context, describing how anatomical knowledge was achieved and transmitted and how those processes interacted with the experimental and mechanical philosophies, natural history, and medical practice.

Malpighi was central in all of these developments, and his work helped redefine the intellectual horizon of the time. Bertoloni Meli's critical study of this key figure and the works of his contemporaries — including Borelli, Swammerdam, Redi, and Ruysch — opens a wonderful window onto the scientific and medical worlds of the seventeenth century.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Higher Education
The strength of Meli's work lies in his attention to detail in highly complex Latin works, and in his sensitivity to unpublished work, correspondence, diaries, and above all, to the technologies of illustration.

— William Poole

JAMA

Distinguished as this work was, in Mechanism, Experiment, Disease Domenico Bertoloni Meli maintains there is a great deal more to Marcello Malpighi. In this new book—part biography, part intellectual history of anatomy (the philosophy and mechanics of the body), and part history of medicine in the 17th century—Bertoloni Meli tells readers why. What he does wonderfully is to locate Malpighi as a practicing physician during Italy's scientific revolution. Bertoloni Meli conveys the excitement of the new science, voices the tumult that ensued as opposing schools of thought clashed, and reminds readers that priority disputes are nothing new.

Isis - Maria Pia Donato

Bertoloni Meli's book is a very valuable and welcome contribution to the ongoing reassessment of the Scientific Revolution as a manifold process that involved all areas of natural knowledge—from physics to medicine—and reconfigured each and their mutual relations.

Times Higher Education - William Poole

The strength of Meli's work lies in his attention to detail in highly complex Latin works, and in his sensitivity to unpublished work, correspondence, diaries, and above all, to the technologies of illustration.

JAMA - Helen Bynum

Bertoloni Meli makes great use of Malpighi's wonderful epistolary consultations to remind readers that boundaries between research and practice have been drawn too sharply by historians. His use of overlooked medical correspondence increases the presence of Malpighi, the medical practitioner, working from bench to bedside four centuries before translational research hit the headlines.

The British Journal for the History of Science - Stephanie Eichberg

The most comprehensive account to date of the works of Marcello Malpighi.

Metascience - Cynthia Klestinec and Gideon Manning

Among the many lessons to be taken from Domenico Bertoloni Meli's carefully researched, persuasive and, at times, beautifully rendered book is that the life sciences in the early modern period must be studied with an eye to the history of science, medicine and philosophy... There is too much to praise and to learn from Meli's book to do it justice in a short review such as this. For several years now his work has represented a vital and inspiring force in the history medicine, and Mechanism, Experiment, Disease: Marcello Malpighi and Seventeenth-Century Anatomy in particular will enliven the study of early modern medicine in ways we cannot pretend to anticipate. But one thing we are confident about is that Meli's latest book should shape the new work to be done on eighteenth-century notions of mechanism, the emergence of pathology, and the history of visualization and its practices.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801899034
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2011
  • Pages: 456
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Domenico Bertoloni Meli is a professor of history and philosophy of science at Indiana University and author of Thinking with Objects: The Transformation of Mechanics in the Seventeenth Century, also published by Johns Hopkins.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: Anatomy, Medicine, and the New Philosophy 1

1 Anatomical Research in the Second Half of the Seventeenth Century 1

2 Malpighi's Role on the Anatomical Stage 4

3 Medical Locations: The Sites of Malpighi's Work 6

4 Mechanism and Mechanics 12

5 Experiment and Collaboration 16

6 Disease and Anatomy 20

7 Structure and Organization 22

Part I The Rise of Mechanistic and Microscopic Anatomy: Malpighi's Formation and Association with Borelli 27

Chapter 1 The New Anatomy, the Lungs, and Respiration 31

1.1 Changing Anatomical Horizons 31

1.2 Malpighi's Bologna Apprenticeship: Anatomical Venues and Vivisection 32

1.3 Malpighi's Pisa Apprenticeship: Microscopy and the New Philosophy 40

1.4 Malpighi's Epistolae on the Lungs 45

1.5 The Purpose of Respiration: Thruston, Lower, and Hooke 50

Chapter 2 Epidemic Fevers and the Challenge to Galenism 56

2.1 Galenic Traditions and New Medical Thinking 56

2.2 Borelli and the Sicilian Epidemics of 1647-48 58

2.3 Borelli, Malpighi, and the Pisa Epidemics of 1661 63

2.4 The 1665 Controversy between the Neoterics and the Galenists 65

2.5 Malpighi's Risposta to Galenistarum triumphus 69

Chapter 3 The Anatomy of the Brain and of the Sensory Organs 75

3.1 Atomism and the Anatomy of the Senses 75

3.2 Brain Research in the 1660s: Willis, Steno, and Malpighi 76

3.3 Malpighi's Anatomical Findings on Taste and Touch 88

3.4 Fracassati's Far-Reaching Investigations 93

3.5 Bellini and Rossetti: Atomistic Anatomy of Taste and Touch 97

Part II Secretion and the Mechanical Organization of the Body: Glands as the Centerpiece of Malpighi's Investigations 103

Chapter 4 The Glandular Structure of the Viscera 105

4.1 The Revival of Glands 105

4.2 Changing Perceptions on Glands: Glisson, Wharton, and Steno 106

4.3 Malpighi's Treatise on the Liver 113

4.4 The Brain and the Cerebral Cortex 119

4.5 The Kidneys: Bellini and Malpighi 121

4.6 The Spleen and Its Problems 124

Chapter 5 Far, Blood, and the Body's Organization 130

5.1 The Necessity of Matter and the Animal's Benefit 130

5.2 Descartes on Fat, Blood, and Nutrition 132

5.3 Malpighi on Fat and Its Philosophical Implications 134

5.4 Blood Transfusions 138

5.5 Malpighi on Heart Polyps and the Nature of Blood 142

Chapter 6 The Structure of Glands and the Problem of Secretion 150

6.1 Different Perspectives on Glands 150

6.2 Intestinal Glands and Their Implications 151

6.3 The Mode of Operation of Glands 158

6.4 Glands in the Theatre: Bellini, Sbaraglia, and Malpighi 160

6.5 Nuck's New Taxonomy of Glands 165

Part III Between Anatomy and Natural History: Malpighi the Royal Society 171

Chapter 7 The Challenge of Insects 175

7.1 Changing Perceptions on Insects 175

7.2 Redi: Experiments and Generation 179

7.3 Malpighi: Historia and Anatomy 186

7.4 Swammerdam: Metamorphosis and Classification 194

7.5 Swammerdam and Malpighi: Microstructure and Iconography 201

Chapter 8 Generation and the Formation of the Chick in the Egg 208

8.1 Generation and Its Problems 208

8.2 Harvey: Epigenesis and the Role of the Faculties 210

8.3 The Organs of Generation and the Problem of Fecundation 215

8.4 Swammerdam and the Amsterdam Circle on Preformation 224

8.5 Malpighi and the Formation of the Chick in the Egg 227

Chapter 9 The Anatomy of Plants 234

9.1 Plants between Anatomy and Natural History 234

9.2 Malpighi s Anatomy of Plants: Structure, Iconography, and Experiment 237

9.3 Trionfetti, Malpighi, Cestoni, and the Vegetation of Plants 254

9.4 Grew and Camerarius: Iconography, "$$$Economy," and Sexual Reproduction 262

Part IV Anatomy, Pathology, and Therapy: Malpighi's Posthumous Writings 271

Chapter 10 The Fortunes of Malpighi's Mechanistic Anatomy 275

10.1 Mechanistic Anatomy and Malpighi's Vita 275

10.2 Writing about the Self 276

10.3 Levels of Mechanical Explanation in Borelli and Malpighi 280

10.4 Paolo Mini and the Soul-Body Problem 289

10.5 Ruysch's Challenge and Boerhaave 296

Chapter 11 From the New Anatomy to Pathology and Therapy 307

11.1 A Bologna Controversy and Its Wider Implications 307

11.2 Sbaraglias Challenge to Malpighi's Research 309

11.3 Malpighi: The Medical Significance of the New Anatomy 311

11.4 Sbaraglias Empiricism and Methodological Concerns 321

11.5 Young Morgagni s Covert Intervention 326

Chapter 12 Medical Consultations 331

12.1 Between Theory and Practice, Carnival and Lent 331

12.2 Publishing Malpighi's Consultations 334

12.3 Structure and Contents of Malpighi's Consultations 338

12.4 Curing with the Pen: Francesco Redi 344

12.5 A Broader Look at Medical Consultations: Vallisneri and Morgagni 349

Epilogue 355

List of Abbreviations 365

Notes 367

Referrnces 403

Index 427

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