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Girolamo Cardano (), renowned as a mathematician, encyclopedist, astrologer, and autobiographer, was by profession a medical practitioner.
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Men like Cardano thought of themselves as reforming or renovating medical knowledge, while continuing to be engaged with traditional medical texts; insistent on the value of experience, they still defined themselves in relation to the world of scholarship. In The Clock and the Mirror, we see Cardano fashioning for himself a medical vision that was both highly individual and deeply attuned to Renaissance culture. In Part I, "Cardano's Medical World," Siraisi sets out the issues that dominated Cardano's medical writings: the mediation between ancient writers like Galen and contemporary ones like Vesalius; the juxtaposition Author: Lisa Rosner.
Contemporaries, naturally, took more notice of novelty than continuity. University professors of various branches of medicine were on the whole agreed that their age was one of notable innovation or renovation. Here, for example, is Vesalius on the subject in "In the great felicity of this age For example, in , Alessandro Massaria, a professor at the University of Padua, sourly alluded to the "infinite and unbridled audacity" of innovators in medical education.
In historical hindsight, major sixteenth-century innovations and innovators in medicine and related sciences have long been the subject of intensive study; yet the extent to which and, more important, the manner in which patterns of change permeated medical culture are more difficult to determine and have been less explored.
At this point, to attempt a general definition of "Renaissance" scientific culture in medicine and related fields is perhaps not very useful. It appears more profitable to examine how physicians actually deployed the intellectual resources available to them in the context of specific social and professional pressures. This book is intended as such an endeavor, using Cardano's prolific, self-expressive, and eclectic works as one set of examples. They hold up a mirror — sometimes, to be sure, a distorting mirror — to many aspects of a complex medical world. Cardano's life story has been many times retold and need only be briefly summarized here.
Subsequently he and his mother joined his father in Milan, where his parents eventually married.
The Clock and the Mirror: Girolamo Cardano and Renaissance Medicine
Although the elder Cardano was a jurist by training, his interests were in mathematics and the occult. Girolamo's relation with his father was ambivalent, but Fazio exercised a strong influence on his son. Pride in the Cardano family which claimed noble descent , mathematical accomplishments, and much attention — at different times and in different contexts veering between skepticism and credulity — to various types of occultism were all among Girolamo's salient characteristics. He also identified strongly as a Milanese citizen.
Girolamo's studies in the faculty of arts and medicine at the University of Pavia were interrupted by the outbreak of the war for Milan between France and the emperor Charles V; he transferred to Padua, where he obtained his M. A few years of medical practice in Sacco Saccolongo , a small town near Padua, followed. He married in ; he and his wife subsequently became the parents of three children his wife died in Beginning in he made repeated efforts to return to practice medicine in Milan, which were initially frustrated because he was several times refused admission to the Milanese College of Physicians on the grounds of his illegitimacy.
After another period of practice in Gallarate, a small town near Milan, he returned to the city in and obtained a post teaching mathematics. Gradually he built up a medical practice, acquired influential patrons and patients in Milan, and, eventually, in , gained full admission to the College of Physicians. In , he became professor of medicine at the University of Pavia.
However, because his academic salary was not paid as promised, his professorship was soon interrupted by another period of several years of medical practice in Milan. Meanwhile, during the s and s he was acquiring an international reputation outside medicine owing to the publication in northern Europe of his major mathematical, astrological, philosophical, and encyclopedic works. His mathematical works included a treatise on algebra, the Ars magna , in which he provided the first printed explanation of a procedure for solving cubic equations, setting off a famous priority dispute with Tartaglia.
Cardano, Girolamo [WorldCat Identities]
In astrology, Cardano was the author of the principal commentary on the most important ancient astrological treatise, namely, Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos He also published treatises on moral philosophy, including a once well-known De consolatione But the work that brought him widest fame in his own lifetime was probably an encyclopedic compendium of natural philosophy entitled De subtilitate A second encyclopedic work, De varietate rerum, followed in An invitation to journey to Scotland to treat Archbishop Hamilton of St.
Andrews for a complaint that may have been asthma — one of the few aspects of Cardano's medical activity that has entered standard histories of medicine — allowed him to spend most of taking a prolonged trip through northern Europe.
During this visit he traveled through France, England, Switzerland, and parts of Germany and met with several leading northern European intellectuals. Subsequently, after another period in Milan, Cardano resumed his teaching duties at the University of Pavia. But marked the beginning of a succession of personal calamities. Meanwhile, he negotiated a career in a medical community characterized by personal and social rivalries, a competitive medical marketplace, and strong institutional and religious pressures.
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