Maria Conforti

Myth, Nature, and Chance: Medical Histories and Religion

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract


In the "Preface" to his "Histoire de la Médecine" (1796) the Swiss Daniel Leclerc offered to the reader a substantial and detailed—if mainly critical—catalogue of his predecessors, that is, of the many authors of medical histories writing in the Early Modern age. The paper will address the religious issues connected to the origins of medicine, as described in a selection of this literature. While the importance of mythical healing fi gures belonging to the pantheons of different nations was widely acknowledged, the role of Biblical or Christian fi gures and motifs in the development of medical knowledge and practice was rather downplayed. Medicine and its history were thus constructed as essentially lay enterprises, where chance and conjectures played a substantial role.

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