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What Is Medicine?Western and Eastern Approaches to Healing$
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Paul Unschuld

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780520257658

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520257658.001.0001

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Paracelsus: A Tumultuous Mind with an Overview

Paracelsus: A Tumultuous Mind with an Overview

Chapter:
64 Paracelsus: A Tumultuous Mind with an Overview
Source:
What Is Medicine?
Author(s):

Paul U. Unschuld

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520257658.003.0064

This chapter focuses on the thesis of Paracelsus in the new era. Paracelsus wrote that there is nothing inside the body that is not observable from the outside, and that is the antithesis of Vesalius's position. Most of Paracelsus's biographical details are uncertain. Paracelsus, in contrast to Vesalius, did not look into the body and he even did not find the words used convincing. The important thing is that he compared the processes in the body with the processes he had seen at the metal foundry in Carinthia, or somewhere else. He had observed that in nature, external to humans, there are flammable substances. There is an underlying principle to these substances. This he called sulfur, the principle of the sulfuric, that which is oily and flammable. Paracelsus knew no chemical elements but he recognized principles of effect. Fire possessed the greatest meaning for him. It was the most important power that Paracelsus recognized to dissociate, to separate.

Keywords:   biographical details, processes in the body, flammable substances, chemical elements, fire, volatile gas

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