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In his Elementorum Myologiae Specimen, Steno geometrizes “the new fabric of muscles” and their movement of contraction, so as to refute the main contemporary hypothesis about the functioning of the muscles. This physiological refutation relies on an abstract representation of the muscular fibre as a parallelepiped of flesh transversally linked to the tendons. Those two features have been comprehensively studied. But the method used by Steno, as well as the way he has chosen to present his physiological results, have so far been neglected. Yet, Steno’s work follows a true synthetic order, which he conceives as a tool to separate uncertain anatomical “elements” from the certain ones. We will show that the true understanding of this “more geometrico” order is the only way to avoid frequent misconceptions of the scientific aim pursued by Steno, which is neither to give a mathematical explanation of the functioning of the muscles, nor to reduce the muscles to some mathematical shapes.

In: Early Science and Medicine
In: Steno and the Philosophers
In: Steno and the Philosophers
In: Steno and the Philosophers
In: Steno and the Philosophers
In: Steno and the Philosophers
In: Steno and the Philosophers
Steno and the Philosophers offers an account of the life and works of the Danish scientist and theologian Nicolas Steno (1638-1686). Its aim is to study the intricate relations between philosophy, theology, and the emerging sciences (anatomy, medicine and geology in particular) in the early modern Republic of Letters through the biographical prism of one of its most fascinating members. Concentrating on Steno’s contributions to natural philosophy and his relations to philosophers, the volume portrays Steno, not only as an influential scientist and theologian, but also as a natural philosopher who played a pivotal, albeit ambivalent, role in the intellectual networks amongst philosophers and natural scientists in the late seventeenth century.

Contributors include Raphaële Andrault, Jakob Bek-Thomsen, Daniel Garber, Vasiliki Girgoropoulo, Eric Jorink, Troels Kardel, Mogens Lærke, Sebastian Olden-Jørgensen, Justin E. H. Smith, Frank Sobiech and Pina Totaro.