Paracelsus: A Tumultuous Mind with an Overview

Paul U. Unschuld

in What Is Medicine?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780520257658
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944701 | DOI:
Paracelsus: A Tumultuous Mind with an Overview

Show Summary Details


This chapter focuses on the thesis of Paracelsus in the new era. Paracelsus wrote that there is nothing inside the body that is not observable from the outside, and that is the antithesis of Vesalius's position. Most of Paracelsus's biographical details are uncertain. Paracelsus, in contrast to Vesalius, did not look into the body and he even did not find the words used convincing. The important thing is that he compared the processes in the body with the processes he had seen at the metal foundry in Carinthia, or somewhere else. He had observed that in nature, external to humans, there are flammable substances. There is an underlying principle to these substances. This he called sulfur, the principle of the sulfuric, that which is oily and flammable. Paracelsus knew no chemical elements but he recognized principles of effect. Fire possessed the greatest meaning for him. It was the most important power that Paracelsus recognized to dissociate, to separate.

Keywords: biographical details; processes in the body; flammable substances; chemical elements; fire; volatile gas

Chapter.  1291 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.