"Paradoxes, Absurdities, and Madness": Conflict over Alchemy, Magic and Medicine in the Works of Andreas Libavius and Heinrich Khunrath

in Early Science and Medicine
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Abstract

Both Andreas Libavius and Heinrich Khunrath graduated from Basel Medical Academy in 1588, though the theses they defended reveal antithetical approaches to medicine, despite their shared interests in iatrochemistry and transmutational alchemy. Libavius argued in favour of Galenic allopathy while Khunrath promoted the contrasting homeopathic approach of Paracelsus and the utility of the occult doctrine of Signatures for medical purposes. This article considers these differences in the two graduates' theses, both as intimations of their subsequent divergent notions of the boundaries of alchemy and its relations with medicine and magic, and also as evidence of the surprisingly unstable academic status of Paracelsian philosophy in Basel, its main publishing centre, at the end of the sixteenth century.

"Paradoxes, Absurdities, and Madness": Conflict over Alchemy, Magic and Medicine in the Works of Andreas Libavius and Heinrich Khunrath

in Early Science and Medicine

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