Article ID: CBB001021494

Die Wahrheit entdecken. Garcia da Orta und die “Gespräche über die einfachen Heilmittel” (Goa 1563) (2009)


The Colloquies on the simples and drugs of India` by Garcia da Orta, published in Goa in 1563, are an inquiry into South Asian materia medica and an important Portuguese contribution to Renaissance herbal literature. The dialogue indicates a fundamental interest in the quest for truth, emphasizing the separation of true from false or vague statements in the description of various plants and vegetable, animal and mineral products of the East Indies. As lectures on the writings of Aristotle and his commentators formed the bases of education at Spanish universities in the 16th century, the current scholar concept of truth at that time derived from Aristotelian philosophy in which scientific truth is taken to arise mainly from syllogistic proof, definition and noetic intuition. Simultaneously another notion of truth emerged, referring to itself in terms of discovery` and experience`. The abundance of unknown phenomena and the strangeness of the exotic flora and fauna had demonstrated that the ability to make true statements in the field of natural history depended largely on sense perception and the collection of information. Both of these two ways to knowledge are required to characterize, compare and classify new objects or processes by differentiating them into their accidental, specific and diagnostic properties. This kind of truth gains its validity from authentic and documentated observation of individual beings; it has to be detected by research on nature's morphological diversity and by application of heuristic methods. After giving an outline of Orta's life, the structure of the Colloquies` and their reception in Europe, the article tries to identify the plants and drugs discussed and finally concentrates on an exposition of the Aristotelian and the discovery-oriented concept of scientfic truth.

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Authors & Contributors
Corriente, Federico
Bastos, Cristiana
Bergman, Ted Lars Lennart
González Domínguez, José
Silva Filho, Wellington Bernardelli
Soler, Isabel
Llull: Revista de la Sociedad Española de Historia de las Ciencias y de las Técnicas
Suhayl: Journal for the History of the Exact and Natural Sciences in Islamic Civilisation
Anais do Instituto de Medicina Tropical
Mefisto: Rivista di medicina, filosofia, storia
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Social History of Medicine
Tinta da China
Universidad de Alcalá
Portugal, colonies
Formularies; pharmacopoeias
Materia medica
Pharmaceutical botany
Orta, Garcia da
Jesus Maria, João de
Dioscorides, Pedanios
Barba, Alvaro Alonso
Time Periods
16th century
Early modern
17th century
19th century
Velha Goa (India)
Madrid (Spain)

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