Thesis ID: CBB621193746

Roger Bacon's Medical Alchemy: Medieval Pharmacology and the Prolongatio Vitae (2021)

unapi

This dissertation examines Roger Bacon’s interest in alchemy and its role in medicine, and how it connects with the 13th century milieu in which he was writing. Alchemy, rather than solely being about transmuting base metals into noble ones, finds its greatest use in the prolongatio vitae, or the extension of human life toward its natural limits, as exemplified by the Biblical Patriarchs. Borrowing the idea of a medicine for metals from pseudo-Avicenna’s De anima, Bacon develops a 1:1 correspondence between the medicine of metals and the medicine of people. He synthesizes material from many different sources to develop a theory uniquely his: that a body of equal proportion, in which the elements are all balanced in their potencies, is not only able to exist without corruption, but can impart that incorruptibility on a different substance. Rather than needing a specific medicine for each disease, Bacon’s corpus equale for humans is universal, and works by virtue of its own equality. This dissertation also shows that Bacon, despite having many original ideas regarding the role of alchemy and a corpus equale in the prolongatio vitae, is far from alone in believing that such an extension of life is possible. There was significant interest in the prolongation of life among 13th and 14th century physicians, and how it could be accomplished. Bacon himself has a change of opinion in the three decades in which he writes about the prolongatio vitae: at the beginning, he is hesitant to assign any importance to alchemy as a tool for extending life, but in his more mature works, he considers alchemy to be one of the sciences vital to the prolongatio vitae.

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Authors & Contributors
Newman, William Royall
Lüthy, Christoph H.
Murdoch, John Emery
Jacquart, Danielle
Molland, G.
Lohr, Charles H.
Journals
Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity
Micrologus: Nature, Sciences and Medieval Societies
Royal Historical Society. Transactions
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Indian Journal of History of Science
Tarikh-e Elm (The Iranian Journal for the History of Science)
Publishers
Brill
Harvard University
Columbia University Press
Edizioni Cadmo
SISMEL edizioni del Galluzzo
Edinburgh University Press
Concepts
Medicine
Alchemy
Pharmacology
Arab/Islamic world, civilization and culture
Cross-cultural interaction; cultural influence
Therapeutics
People
Bacon, Roger
Johannes de Rupescissa
Lull, Ramón
Patrizi, Francesco
Bruno, Giordano
Bacon, Francis, 1st Baron Verulam
Places
Europe
Tibet
Mediterranean region
India
South Asia
Andalusia (Spain)
Times
Medieval
13th century
14th century
Early modern
Ancient
17th century
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