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Anatomy in the Early Modern Period

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Anatomy was developed in early modern Europe based on the dissection of human and animal bodies and animal vivisections. The opening and exploration of dead bodies as a means of accessing knowledge began to be practiced in the second half of the thirteenth century, particularly in northern Italy, and became more and more widespread from the end of the fifteenth century. Anatomy then underwent a tremendous expansion, not only becoming central to medical and surgical knowledge but, beyond that, a “branch of natural philosophy,” as Andreas Vesalius wrote in the Preface of his De humani corporis fabrica, published in Basel in 1543. Dedicated to the production of knowledge on the body that has gone beyond the limits of its mere usefulness for medicine, anatomy rapidly came to play a central part in the culture of early modern Europe.

Based on the segmentation of the body, on the exploration of its interior through the use of the anatomist’s hand and eye, anatomy has been a...

Related Topics

  • Medicine
  • Physiology
  • Vivisection
  • Experimentation on life
  • Dissection

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Correspondence to Rafael Mandressi .

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Mandressi, R. (2020). Anatomy in the Early Modern Period. In: Jalobeanu, D., Wolfe, C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Early Modern Philosophy and the Sciences. Springer, Cham.

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