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LA QUESTIONE DEL CONTAGIUM VIVUM E LA GENESI DEL CONCETTO DI AMBIENTE NELLA MEDICINA TRA XVII E XVIII SECOLO

In: Nuncius
Author:
PAOLA POTEST Roma

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Abstract

title SUMMARY /title The aim of this article is to portray one of the possible paths through which the concept of environment originated. In the debate relating to the contagium vivum problem, as it is defined for example in the works of Fracastoro, the concept of sympathia and antipathia has been denied since '500, and the contagion has been interpreted in materialistic terms. Simultaneously, also in '500, Hippocratic style researches de Locis reflourished due to the efforts of many physicians who pointed out the physical aspects which led to the spreading of a disease. With the discovery of the Protozoa and of other minute inhabitants of water, microscopy in '600 underlined the possible animated origin of several diseases, thus refusing causes, as the influence of stars, etc. However medicine was the discipline in which the researches on the environment became a basis for the discovery and prevention of disease. Medical sciences turned towards a practical-empiristic methodology that also led to a new vision of the role of the physician in the community. Here, the importance of G. Lancisi's work De Noxiis Paludum Effluviis is emphasised as a signal of these new research trends. This work is noteworthy first of all because the mosquito is identified as the cause of malaria with the peculiar environmental conformation of the Paludi Pontine, and secondly because Lancisi testifies one of the first battles carried out by a scientist in defence of the environment.

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