Early Modern Empiricism and the Discourse of the Senses

  • Alan Salter
Part of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 25)


The relationship between science and literary texts in the early seventeenth century has only rarely been examined by scholars yet it is of immense importance in explaining the achievement of scientists in the period. The emergence of a language of empiricism and its usage in genres as eclectic as cosmography and drama shaped the practice of science by providing expressions and concepts that could be applied by investigators to their inquiries. But it was not just the language that took effect. Empiricism and the senses became topics in their own right and the works they appeared in displayed energy and intensity and an excitement at the possibilities of using new narrative ideas to explain the world. It is my contention that without this discourse of the senses the empirical practices that enabled the physiologist William Harvey to discover the circulation of the blood and the generation of the animal could not have been devised.


Common Sense Word Sense Early Modern Period True Path Imaginative Power 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Bartlett, Phyllis Brooks. 1941. Introduction. In The Poems of George Chapman, ed. Phyllis Brooks Bartlett, 1–16. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bergeron, David. 1971. English Civic Pageantry 1558–1642. London: Edward Arnold.Google Scholar
  3. Bowers, Fredson. 1955. The Dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Chapman, George. 1595. Ovids Banquet of Sence. In The Poems of George Chapman, ed. Phyllis Brooks Bartlett, 53–82. 1941. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cuningham, William. 1559. The Cosmographical Glasse. London.Google Scholar
  6. Eden, Richard. 1553. A treatyse of the Newe India. London.Google Scholar
  7. Febvre, Lucien. 1982. The Problem of Unbelief in the 16th Century, the Religion of Rabelais. Tr. Beatrice Gottlieb. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Giglioni, Guido. 1994. Indici Delle Opere Di William Harvey. Macerata: Universita di Macerata.Google Scholar
  9. Harvey, William. 1616. Prelectiones Anatomie Universalis (The Anatomical Lectures of William Harvey), unpublished manuscript. Tr. & ed. Gweneth Whitteridge. 1963. Edinburgh & London: E. & S. Livingstone.Google Scholar
  10. Harvey, William. 1628a. Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus. Frankfurt. Tr. Gweneth Whitteridge. 1976. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications.Google Scholar
  11. Harvey, William. 1628b. Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus. Frankfurt. Tr. Chauncey D. Leake. 1928. Springfield & Baltimore: Charles C. Thomas.Google Scholar
  12. Harvey, William. 1651. Exercitationes de Generatione Animalium. London. Tr. Gweneth Whitteridge. 1981. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications.Google Scholar
  13. Harvey, William. 1653. The Anatomical Exercises of Dr. William Harvey Professor of Physick, and Physician to the Kings Majesty, Concerning the Motion of the Heart and Blood. London.Google Scholar
  14. Hoven, Rene, assisted by Laurent Grailet. 2006. Dictionary of Renaissance Latin from Prose Sources, 2nd edition. Leiden & Boston: Brill.Google Scholar
  15. Middleton, Thomas. 1613. The Triumphs of Truth. London.Google Scholar
  16. Rosen, David. 1995. Anatomical Comparisons, Metaphysical Conceits. Caduceus, 11, 185–206.Google Scholar
  17. Taylor, Gary. 2008. Middleton, Thomas. In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Taylor, Gary and John Lavagnino. 2007. General Editors. Thomas Middleton: the Collected Works. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Tomkis, Thomas. 1607. Lingua. London.Google Scholar
  20. Whitteridge, Gweneth. 1971. William Harvey and the Circulation of the Blood. London: Macdonald.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan Salter
    • 1
  1. 1.Unit for History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations