Article ID: CBB971251721

Shadows of the Thrown Spear: Girolamo Cardano on Anxiety, Dreams, and the Divine in Nature (2023)


Girolamo Cardano (1501–1576), a preeminent natural philosopher, physician and astrologer of the sixteenth century, is known for the great diversity of his intellectual pursuits and writings. Across much of his work, we find an overriding concern with the dangers of human life, how those dangers might be foreseen, and how their effects can be mitigated. This essay begins by considering the epistemic significance of anxiety as it is described in his autobiography, the De propria vita. When Cardano had devoted so much effort to working out method and sense in medicine and astrology, why do episodes of foreknowledge in the autobiography seem so haphazard and disorienting? I use this question to examine Cardano’s views on the possibilities and limits of human foreknowledge, paying special attention to his treatise on dreams, the Somniorum Synesiorum libri quatuor, and his commentary on Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos.

Associated with

Article Steven Vanden Broecke; Jonathan Regier (2023) Special Issue Introduction: Individuality, Self-Care, and Self-Preservation in Late Medieval and Early Modern Science. Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period (pp. 1-7). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Grafton, Anthony T.
Newman, William Royall
Azzolini, Monica
Rupprecht, Carol Schreier
Grafton, Anthony T.
Ernst, Germana
Ziran Kexueshi Yanjiu (Studies in the History of Natural Sciences)
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Journal for the History of Astronomy
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Harvard University Press
The MIT Press
Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli
Scribe Publications
Forecasting; prediction
East Asia, civilization and culture
Divination; prognostication
Cardano, Girolamo
Kepler, Johannes
Galilei, Galileo
Campanella, Tommaso
von Lübeck, Johannes
Jung, Carl Gustav
Time Periods
16th century
17th century
15th century
Padua (Italy)
Milan (Italy)

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