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CALL. 15.03.2018: Galen and the Early Moderns - Venezia (Italy)




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Università Ca' Foscari Venezia (Venezia, Italy)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Emanuela Scribano; Matteo Favaretti Camposampiero.

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Along with Hippocrates, Galen was the most celebrated physician of antiquity. Among ancient physicians, he was also the one who exerted the most persisting influence not only on western medical thought and practice but also on western culture and philosophy in general. In spite of their early medieval oblivion caused mainly by linguistic barriers, in the eleventh century Galen’s works began to circulate again in Europe through Arabic mediation. As soon as Latin translations made in Italy and Spain became available, Galen entered the canon of natural philosophy, medicine, and anatomy. This medieval and late-medieval revival of the Galenic tradition lasted throughout the early modern era up to the eighteenth century at least. However, Galen’s influence was not limited to the medical field. Although his theories and practices certainly represented a mandatory reference for early modern anatomy, physiology, and therapeutics, Galen also contributed to orient the interpretation of Aristotle’s natural philosophy. In particular, his De usu partium was a reference work for any confrontation with the Aristotelian biological treatises. The famous Epode inserted as an appendix to this work strongly supported the theologically-oriented reading of Aristotle’s physics. Furthermore, the finalistic account of organic structures offered by De usu partium was an inspiring source for the eighteenth-century development of Teleology as an autonomous philosophical discipline. So far, studies on Galen’s modern revival have focused mainly on the post-medieval period and the Renaissance. Frequent attention was paid especially to Galen’s presence in the medicine and physiology of the sixteenth century. The reasons for this emphasis are perfectly understandable, since the sixteenth-century edition of the Opera had the indeniable effect of reviving the interest in this author among both the medical and the philosophical communities. On the other hand, this privileged focus on the sixteenth century may easily result in overlooking the long-term effect of Galen’s rediscovery, which in fact did not cease to exert its powerful influence both on medicine and philosophy during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Galen’s theories appear to be mentioned, endorsed, discussed or even fought in the works of first-rank scientists and philosophers such as Boyle, Cudworth, Malebranche, and Leibniz – just to name the best known ones. A still open question, for instance, concerns the extent to which Descartes’ physiology and especially his sketch of embriology might contain some implicit reference to Galen’s work as their polemical target. In light of these considerations, the Venice conference aims to broaden the study of Galen’s reception in the early modern philosophy of nature, teleology, physiology, medicine, and philosophy of medicine by investigating his presence from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. We therefore invite submissions on all aspects of the early modern reception of Galen’s scientific and philosophical works. Proposals on iconographical or iconological issues related to the early modern Galenic tradition will also be considered. Keynote speakers: Raphaële Andrault, Dennis DesChene, Guido Giglioni, Hiro Hirai. Call for abstracts: Please submit your proposal (max. 1,000 words) as a Word or PDF attachment to Submission deadline: 15 March 2018. Notification of acceptance will be sent by the end of April. We will cover both accommodation and travel costs for speakers, provided that they travel in economy class and buy their tickets at least one month before the conference.

Conference attendance is free. There are no registration fees.

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