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Friday Workshop: Lucia Dacome (Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto) “Swinging on the Scale: the Life of a Scientific Image in Early Modern Europe”

February 11, 2011 at 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

This paper reconstructs the historical fortune of an image that throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries became a landmark of the doctrine of static medicine, which was originally elaborated by the physician Santorio Santorio (1561-1636). The image depicted a man weighing himself on a scale that measured changes in insensible perspiration, an imperceptible excretion of the skin that was considered to be of critical importance for the pursuit of health. Well into the eighteenth century, the image of the weight-watching man underwent a great success. It appeared in a variety of medical works, navigated across competing medical theories and different medical genres (such as the commentary, the aphorism and the experimental report), and survived harsh debates on competing models of the body (such as the mechanical versus the humoral). This paper will examine the success and the historical agency of this image and accordingly reconstruct its role in the early modern medical world.


February 11, 2011
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
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