Article ID: CBB929696225

Descartes’ Man Under Construction: The Circulatory Statue of Salomon Reisel, 1680 (2020)


This paper studies the “human circulatory statues” which Salomon Reisel designed in the 1670s in order to demonstrate the circulation of the blood and its effect on the brain. It investigates how Reisel intended this project to promote Descartes’ philosophy, and how it relates to contemporary diagrammatic schematizations of the blood circulation system. It further explores Reisel’s claims concerning the epistemological and practical advantages of working with a three-dimensional model and argues that Reisel intended his statua to address the concerns of his fellow physicians and, more specifically, to help in diagnostics. I consider the background, strategy and legacy of the essays in which Reisel presented his devices, as well as their relevance to the general project of the scien­tific journal – one of the earliest – in which they appeared, the Miscellanea Curiosa. Reisel was a leading physician who acted throughout his life as a mediator between the Royal Society and the Academia Naturæ Curiosorum. His articles, the paper argues, have much to tell us much about the role played by the recently established scientific academies and their journals in shaping the transmission of early modern science and medicine, in terms both of theories and of the knowledge embodied in scientific instruments.

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Authors & Contributors
Malabou, Catherine
Constable, Marianne
Davis, Whitney
Wintroub, Michael
Thompson, Charis
Nakamura, Teiri
Japanese Studies in the History of Science
Mémoires de l'Académie des Sciences, Belles-Lettres et Arts de Lyon
Perspectives on Science
Georgia Journal of Science
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
University of Chicago Press
University of California, Berkeley
Oxford University Press
Circulation of the blood
Science and society
Descartes, René
Harvey, William
Bacon, Francis, 1st Baron Verulam
Sprat, Thomas
Whytt, Robert
Time Periods
17th century
18th century
19th century
20th century
Early modern
20th century, late
Great Britain
London (England)
Royal Society of London
Academia Caesareo-Leopoldina Naturae Curiosorum
East India Company (English)

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