Conclusion: What Was “Renaissance Natural History”?

in The Science of Describing

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780226620879
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226620862 | DOI:
Conclusion: What Was “Renaissance Natural History”?

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Renaissance natural history developed in scholarly settings, in the attempt to restore the medical, agricultural, and philosophical knowledge of the ancient world. Yet the humanists' approach to reconciling ancient descriptions and modern observations led quickly to the formation of a new disciplinary community whose motives were far more complicated than their pragmatic origins. The Renaissance science of describing was sui generis. It contributed to resolving problems in medicine, agriculture, and—for some thinkers like Girolamo Cardano, Andrea Cesalpino, and Francis Bacon—natural philosophy, but it was not a part of any of those disciplines. Renaissance naturalists were unabashedly concerned with particulars and their description. Depending on the context, these particulars could be individual plants and animals, or they could be species—a term that was not precisely defined but taken over from commonplace usage.

Keywords: science of describing; disciplinary community; natural history; natural philosophy; plants and animals; humanism; Renaissance

Chapter.  2637 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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