Paracelsus : a reevaluation “1”

Paracelsus : a reevaluation “1”

© Masson, Paris, 2006 Ann Pharm Fr 2006, 64 : 52-62 Relecture Paracelsus : a reevaluation [1] P. Prioreschi Summary. After reviewing the notions of ...

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© Masson, Paris, 2006

Ann Pharm Fr 2006, 64 : 52-62

Relecture Paracelsus : a reevaluation [1] P. Prioreschi Summary. After reviewing the notions of Paracelsus concerning medicine and his ideas about knowledge and science, the author discusses his contributions to medicine and science. He also discusses the reasons for his popularity. The general conclusion is that Paracelsian medicine represented a return to the supernaturalistic healing practices of the past.

Key-words: Paracelsus, Renaissance medicine, Paracelsus’ world-view, Renaissance chemistry, Renaissance science, Magical medicine.

erhaps the most striking characteristics of Paracelsus as a historical figure are the interest that he has aroused over the years among historians (and assorted admirers [2]) and the extravagant praise of which he has been the object. For about the last 200 years he has been considered one of history’s great doctors and in the last century the number of publications about him has exceeded those on any other physician [3]. In this essay, we will discuss his worldview, his ideas about science and medicine, the reasons for the extravagant praise mentioned above, and we will try to evaluate his contributions to science and especially to medicine.

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Worldview and epistemology [4] Although Paracelsus accepted the four Aristotelian elements (Fire, Earth, Water, Air) as the basic components of the universe [5], he also Department of Pharmacology, Creighton University, Omaha, NE 68178, USA. Tirés à part : P. Prioreschi, à l’adresse ci-dessus.

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Résumé. Après avoir ré-examiné les idées de Paracelse sur la médecine, la connaissance et les sciences, l’auteur s’interroge sur la contribution réelle de Paracelse aux progrès de la médecine et des sciences. L’auteur discute aussi des raisons de la popularité de Paracelse ; sa conclusion est que la médecine de Paracelse fut un retour aux pratiques médicales magiques du passé. Mots-clés : Paracelse, Renaissance médicale, Point de vue mondial de Paracelse. Une réévaluation de Paracelse. P. Prioreschi, Anna Pharm Fr 2006; 64: 52-62.

introduced another system of elements, the tria prima (“the primordial three”), which could account for all things (both organic and inorganic). They were Salt, Sulfur, and Mercury [6]. Burning a piece of wood proved, according to him, that they were the constituents of all material bodies: Take a piece of wood. It is a body. Now burn it. The flammable part is the Sulfur, the smoke is the Mercury, and the ash is the Salt [7]. In his Labyrinthus medicorum, Paracelsus outlined his empirical epistemology. The total system was called Magic, in reference to the Magi who paid homage to the infant Jesus [8]. The passage in Matthew in which the Kings (known as Magi) visited the infant Jesus [9] had, according to Paracelsus, great significance because it indicated the importance of magic and celestial signs, that is astronomy, through which they were able to find their way to Bethlehem [10]. Paracelsus’ doctrine was influenced not only by religion and magic, but by Gnosticism and Neo-Platonism as well [11], and goes back also to the notion of the microcosm and macrocosm [12]; the body and the universe (populated by

Paracelsus : a reevaluation strange beings) are seen in a religious context on a background of magic and mystery. In his Liber de nymphis, sylphis, pygmaeis, et salamandris et de caeteris spiritibus (“A Book on Nymphs, Sylphs, Pygmies, and Salamanders and on the other Spirits”), he said: Their abode is of four kinds, namely, according to the four elements : one in the water, one in the air, one in the earth, one in the fire. Those in the water are nymphs, those in the air are sylphs, those in the earth are pygmies, those in the fire salamanders [13]. The function of these creatures is to be guardians and distributors of the treasures of the earth [14].

Medicine Consistent with his worldview and epistemology, Paracelsus’ medical approach was also deeply influenced by magic, Neo-Platonic and Gnostic traditions including astrology, Hermeticism, and microcosm-macrocosm analogies. The influence of ancient Jewish traditions (especially the Kabbalah) is also evident throughout his writings [15]. Paracelsus aimed to replace the medicine of the ancients, which he considered a scholastic exercise, with a new one. He advocated the study of stones, plants, roots and seeds to find their medical powers. Each disease could then be treated by a specific cure or Arcanum [16]. The seeds of plants, with their growth and development, provided a model for the understanding of diseases, which was to replace the fictitious humoral theory. The wisdom of the farmer should replace the fancies of Galen [17]. In addition, as everything is composed of sulfur, salt and mercury, the body can be described in chemical terms (see below for his explanation of the chemical composition of the body). Individual organs are endowed with their own specific chemist or alchemist (archeus), which separates the useful from the poisonous substances supplied to them. The chief alchemist of the whole body resides in the stomach:

A person eating meat, wherein both poison and nourishment are contained, deems everything good while he eats. For, the poison lies hidden among the good and there is nothing good among the poison. When thus the food, that is to say the meat, reaches the stomach, the alchemist is ready and eliminates that which is not conducive to the well-being of the body. This the alchemist conveys to a special place, and the good where it belongs. This is as the Creator ordained it. In this manner the body is taken care of so that no harm will befall it from the poison which it takes in by eating, the poison being eliminated from the body by the alchemist without man’s cooperation. Of such a nature are thus virtue and power of the alchemist in man [18]. If “chemistry” occupied center stage in the Paracelsian medical paradigm, what we call “anatomy” — he called it “anatomy of the dead” — was considered useless: It astonishes me that you set up the dead body as a ground of knowledge of what is useful for the living body, without considering that the essence, property, being and spiritual force (Kraft), which is the highest part of anatomy, have died and become corrupted… Thus I warn you that if you ever wish to preserve the living body do not seek its benefit in the dead [19]. The physician must know and divide [austeilen] man through dividing heaven and not with the imaginary anatomy [phantasirten anatomie] of the dead which does not teach anything in the principles of true medicine [20]. Diseases According to Paracelsus, the four elements (Water, Air, Fire, and Earth) are matrices on which the fundamental building materials of the universe (Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt) generate objects. The objects generated are species or fruits. The sum total of species that can be generated by Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt in a given matrix is called Iliadus [21]. There is, therefore, one Iliadus for Earth, one for Fire, one for Air, and one for Water. There is also an Iliadus for man (man, in

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P. Prioreschi whose formation all objects and elements of the world have a part, contains species or fruits). Diseases are species or fruits that are well defined in chemical composition [22]; therefore, each disease is a chemical entity associated with chemical elements (e.g., erysipelas with vitriol [23]; cancer with calchotar [24]); in other words, disease is the result of chemical alterations (of Mercury, Sulfur, Salt and their derivatives) in various parts of the body [25]. The causes of diseases are five and are called entia: The entia, the active principles or influences which govern our bodies and do violence to them, are the following. The stars have a force and efficiency that has power over our body… This virtue of the stars is called ens astrorum, and it is the first ens to which we are subjected. The second power that governs us and that inflicts diseases upon us is ens veneni, the influence of poison. Even if the stars are sound and have done no injury to the subtle body in us, this ens can destroy us… The third ens is a power that injures and weakens our body even when the two other influences are beneficent; it is called ens naturale, the natural constitution. If it goes astray or disintegrates, our body becomes sick… The fourth ens, the ens spirituale — the spiritual entity — can destroy our bodies and bring various diseases upon us. And even if all four entia are propitious to us and are sound, yet the fifth ens, the ens Dei, can make our bodies sick. Therefore none of the entia deserves as much attention as this last one; for by it one can recognize the nature of all other diseases… Note moreover that the various diseases do not come from one cause, but from five [26]. As for the plague, Paracelsus believed that it was due to arsenical air trapped in a tartaric deposit [27], which in turn was caused by the coagulation of an arsenical spirit. In this disease, arsenic burns and causes swelling and, as the heat becomes more intense, the tartar [28] is separated from the arsenic and high fever follows. The arsenical poison then “ascends” causing abscesses, delirium and coma [29].

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As we have seen, Paracelsus’ perception of the world was based on the macrocosm-microcosm correspondence and on the belief in a universal sympathy with hidden connections and arcane knowledge to be discovered [30]. This notion applies to diseases as well. For example he believed that epilepsy was a kind of storm similar to the stormy weather of the external world: Now, it should be remembered that the microcosm has within it a particular material which is the counterpart to a particular heavenly body; so the body can generate its own kind of stormy weather [31]. About dropsy, he says: As the rain corrupts the earth, makes it too moist, drowns it, interrupts its functions if the heavens in their impressions cause a downpour beyond temperance and measure, so it also covers man in his earth and pours down on him; this is… dropsy… [32]. The pathogenetic theories of Paracelsus were indeed quite different from the old ones based on the humoral theory. Therapy Paracelsus ridiculed the polypharmacy practiced by Galenic physicians who used recipes containing dozens of ingredients, derided the claims that particular plants possess many therapeutic virtues, and mocked the elaborate theoretical basis for the determination of the properties of preparations. On the other hand, he extolled the virtues of the simple medicine practiced by the laity. He believed that God had chosen simple people, and even animals, to teach the right therapy and that the knowledge of common people was better than that contained in all the works of Galen and Avicenna. The doctors, by relying on printed books, had neglected the simple book of nature and were the purveyors of second-hand information about the fantasies of Aristotle, Galen, Avicenna, and the others [33]. Academic medicine was as worthless as the prattle of priests [34]. As we have mentioned above, each disease, according to Paracelsus, can be treated by arcana,

Paracelsus : a reevaluation that is, specific principles contained in chemical bodies from which they must be isolated. Therefore, what needs to be done is to extract remedies from chemical compounds, not to compose mixtures of herbs as the Galenic physician did [35]. For the actual preparation of remedies he gives the following general instructions: I am directing you, physicians, to alchemy for the preparation of the magnalia [36], for the production of the mysteria [37], for the preparation of the arcana [38], for the separation of the pure from the impure, to the end that you may obtain a flawless, pure remedy… [39] Paracelsus, as we have seen, believed that all bodies are composed of the three chemical principles of Sulfur, Salt, and Mercury (tria prima). Accordingly, diseases can be treated by a combination of these compounds. Dropsy, for example, is to be treated with “mercurial essences” (probably mercurial oxide), then sulfur and a metallic “crocus” (i.e., oxide). The sulfur, as a sun in the microcosm, is supposed to act by dispelling rain and wetness [40]. He rejected the principle contraria contrariis curantur [41] but he was in favor of the opposite similia similibus curantur [42]: Hence a scorpion cures scorpion poisoning, because it has the same anatomy; arsenic cures arsenic poisoning, the heart the heart, the lungs the lungs, the spleen the spleen… [43] As an expression of the harmony of the cosmos and as nature herself, the “Doctrine of the Signatures” [44] occupied an important position in Paracelsian pharmacology: The root Satyrion (orchid) is it not formed like man’s private parts? Hence it promises through magic and has been found by magic to restore manhood and sexual desire to man [45]. As for mental diseases, in certain cases, according to Pagel, he recommends the burning at the stake of mental patients lest they become an instrument of the devil [46]. He states, in fact, that, in certain cases, if no cure is possible, “off into Etna” with them [47]. It could be argued that the

expression “off into Etna” may not have had the gruesome meaning that it seems to have and that Paracelsus may have meant something like “the hell with them,” that is, “forget about them.” In the same context, however, he also refers to die ätnische Strafe (“the penalty of Etna”) [48] to be imposed on them, which seems to be suggestive of death at the stake. In any case, even if the killing of patients was not among his prescriptions, there is no doubt that Paracelsus’ approach to the mentally ill was not always characterized by moderation and understanding. Here is his prescription for the treatment of “St. Vitus’ Dance or Chorea Lasciva, or Recklessness of Mind:” Their thoughts are free, lewd and impertinent, full of lasciviousness and without fear or respect. These thoughts may be expelled in the following way : shut the patients into a dark, unpleasant place and let them fast on water and bread for some time, without mercy. Thus hunger will compel them to adopt a different nature and different thoughts, so that the lasciviousness is driven out by abstinence… It is better to take a good stick and give the patients a good beating and lock them in as has been described above. It should be noted, however, that if they are beaten, such a rage arises within them that they may die of it; therefore, one should be careful to observe moderation. The best cure, and one which rarely fails, is, to throw such persons into cold water [49]. It must be underlined, however, that, in other parts of his work, Paracelsus takes a much more reasonable and even progressive view of mental illness [50]; in other words, he seems to have a contradictory attitude [51]. Physicians The invectives that Paracelsus hurled against physicians are so strident as to be almost comical; they are however helpful in defining his personality: … you [i.e., physicians], horned beasts… what will you think when you will have to accept my philosophy, and be forced to shit on your Pliny and on your Aristotle, to piss on your

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P. Prioreschi Albertus, Thomas, Scotus…? What will you think when I arrange the sky so that the tail of the dragon devours your Avicenna and your Galen?… An ugly weight will crush your humpback when you will have to wear ears three feet long. John has not seen in the Apocalypses beasts more monstrous and deformed than you [52]… He who does not know how to cure leprosy does not understand the power of medicine. He who does not make a lame leg straight is no physician… They justify their lack of skill by saying, “This disease is incurable,” demonstrating nothing but their own stupidity and mendacity, because God never caused a disease for which he has not created a remedy [53]. His animus is often expressed in his writing and his self-aggrandizing prose often becomes grotesque. A famous passage of the Paragranum depicts his bombastic personality better, perhaps, than longer psychological analysis: I am Theophrastus, and greater than those to whom you liken me; I am Theophrastus, and in addition I am monarcha medicorum, monarch of physicians and I can prove to you what you cannot prove. I will let Luther defend his cause and I will defend my cause, and I will defeat those of my colleagues who turn against me; this I shall do with the help of the arcana… It was not the constellations that made me a physician: God made me… I need not don a coat of mail or a buckler against you, for you are not learned or experienced enough to refute even one word of mine… I will not defend my monarchy with empty talk, but with arcana. And I do not take my medicines from the apothecaries; their shops are but foul sculleries, from which comes nothing but foul broths. As for you, you defend your kingdom with bellycrawling and flattery. How long do you think this will last?… Let me tell you this: every little hair on my neck knows more than you and all your scribes, and my shoe-buckles are more learned than your Galen and Avicenna, and my beard has more experience than all your high colleges [54].

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This contrasts with a passage elsewhere in which Paracelsus, says, about the ideal surgeon: “He must never boast or praise himself” [55].

Extravagant praise Not only has Paracelsus been called a precursor of scientific medicine and a champion of both the empirical method and the scientific approach [56], but he has also been said to be the founder of biological chemistry [57], the author who “opened the way to modern pharmacology,” a precursor in surgical asepsis as well as in the identification of gynecological diseases, and an innovator in the fields of psychiatry and balneology, among others. He has also been seen as a champion of medical ethics [58] and is considered to have been ahead of his time in the fields of dental and periodontal diseases [59]. Even an inspirer of a new style of cooking and “a new literary genre — the cookery book” [60]. The following are a few examples of the extravagant praise that historians have heaped on Paracelsus [61]: [He was] the unconquerable fighter for the clearly recognized principle of progress, the true reformer of medicine in all its native ruggedness, his crystal clear depth and purity [62]. [From the medical works of Paracelsus] one can deduce his extraordinary advances in medical thinking beyond the formulae and systems of humoralism [63]. Paracelsus is today celebrated as the first modern medical scientist and for anticipating microchemistry, antisepsis, modern wound surgery, homoeopathy, psychiatry, obstetrics and gynaecology and a number of other modern achievements [64]. To bring the hyperbole to the limit of the grotesque, Paracelsus has been said …to have been for medicine what Copernicus was for astronomy and Galileo for physics [65].

Paracelsus : a reevaluation It must be noted, however, that not all authors have written of Paracelsus in terms of admiration and praise. Some have been highly critical of his work: It cannot be said that the abusive rantings of Paracelsus contributed to the general progress of science and medicine that began in the sixteenth century… For he was a rude, circuitous obscurantist, not a harbinger of light, knowledge and progress [66]. It is not appropriate to understand Paracelsus as a figure at the threshold of modern Western scientific thought… He was the founder of an alternative science and medicine [67]. Nevertheless, the number of admirers of Paracelsus and the extent of their praise makes it incumbent on the historian of medicine to try to decide whether the expressions of praise were justified and, if not, to try to analyze their cause(s).

Discussion and conclusions Elements of Paracelsian medicine that can be considered “positive” (that is, helpful to the patient or to the further progress of medicine) are his observations in balneology (he noted that the waters of some spas had beneficial effects because of their mineral content), in occupational diseases (his observations about miners’ and smelters’ diseases are among the earliest in the field) [68], and in toxicology (e.g., his fine clinical descriptions of chronic arsenic and mercury poisoning) [69]. These few positive contributions, however, must be compared with the potentially negative effects of his backward and confused system. At the time of Paracelsus, physicians were trying to extricate themselves from magic, astrology, necromancy and all the other supernatural beliefs that had afflicted medicine up to then. Whereas the theories of Hippocrates and Galen were still accepted for lack of appropriate scientific tools to improve on them, Vesalius, a contemporary of Paracelsus, was laying the foundations of scientific anatomy. It is in this atmosphere that

the latter, with strident and bombastic prose, appeared on the scene embracing magic, astrology, microcosm-macrocosm correspondence, sympathies, and other fuzzy concepts that belonged to the past. Paracelsus is often considered the father of modern chemistry [70]. In reality, he used the names of three chemicals (mercury, salt and sulfur) to construct fanciful structures and functions. His “chemical” approach was imaginary and no more valid than the humoral or atomic paradigms of the ancients; the chemistry that did turn out to be of fundamental importance for medicine has nothing to do with his imaginary construct. Our chemistry is not his chemistry. This is how he describes the “chemical” composition of the body: The body is developed from Sulfur, that is, the whole body is one Sulfur, and that a subtle Sulfur which burns and destroys invisibly. Blood is one Sulfur, flesh is another, the major organs another, the marrow another, and so on; and this Sulfur is volatile. But the different bones are also Sulfur, only their Sulfur is fixed: in scientific analysis each Sulfur can be distinguished. Now the stiffening of the body comes from Salt: without the Salt no part of the body could be grasped. From Salt the diamond receives its hard texture, iron its hardness, lead its soft texture, alabaster its softness, and so on. All stiffening or coagulation comes from Salt. There is therefore one Salt in the bones, another in the blood, another in the flesh, another in the brain, and so on. For as many as there are Sulfurs there are also Salts. The third substance of the body is Mercury; which is a fluid. All parts of the body have their own fluid: thus the blood has one, the flesh has another, the bones, the marrow, each has its own fluid, which is Mercury. So that Mercury has as many forms as Sulfur and Salt. But since man must have a complete form, its various parts must compact, stiffen, and have a fluid: the three form and unite one body. It is one body but of three substances. Sulfur burns, it is only a sulfur; Salt is an alkali, for it is fixed; Mercury is a vapor, for it does not burn but evaporates. Know then that all dissolution arises from these three [71].

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P. Prioreschi It is evident that if instead of mercury, salt and sulfur, he had used other random entities (let’s say wood, sand, and dew), his description of the structure of the body would have the same degree of accuracy. Similarly, the “chemical” notions he applied to urinalysis have little to do with the modern procedure: Paracelsus opposes “uroscopy” on the ancient lines. No information, he says, can be obtained from the urine short of its examination by “extraction,” coagulation and distillation (“ebullition”), i.e. by chemical methods. These will reveal what is hidden during a mere inspection of an untreated specimen — for example the true color of urine, its sweet, bitter or sour quality, its salt content and changes due to fever paroxysms. Signs of tartaric disease are just as hidden in urine as is silver dissolved in aqua fortis. They are detected, however, when a deposit is precipitated. This is formed by coagulation whereby the morbid species are separated out from the urine. Diseases will thus be diagnosed in terms of an abnormal quantity or condition of salt, sulfur and mercury. In short, the doctor must know how to “separate” the contents of urine by chemical means [72]. It is obvious that his urinalysis could not have been more valuable as a diagnostic tool than the old uroscopy. Not only did Paracelsus’ notions of the correspondence between astral bodies, minerals, and organs, not advance the understanding of diseases, but his lucubrations were often illogical and almost incomprehensible. The following example has been said to be “a curious admixture of non-sequitur and tautology” [73]: You should know that all diseases are cured in five ways, and our medicine therefore begins with the cure and not with the causes, for the reason that the cure reveals to us the cause. To this [end] our argument is addressed that healing is fivefold. This is as much as to say that there is a fivefold medicine or a fivefold art or fivefold faculties or fivefold doctors. Among the five, each is a sufficient faculty to heal all diseases [74].

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As for his notion of the ideal physician: The physician should speak of that which is invisible. What is visible should belong to his knowledge, and he should recognize the illnesses, just as everybody else, who is not a physician, can recognize them by their symptoms. But this is far from making him a physician; he becomes a physician only when he knows that which is unnamed, invisible, and immaterial, yet efficacious [75]. Nothing could be further from the new approach to medical investigation characteristic of the Renaissance, which emphasized objectivity and observation. The future of science in general and medicine in particular did not rest on spirits, magic, and occult forces. Copernicus, Vesalius, Galileo, and Newton did not follow the occult and magical paradigms of Paracelsus; instead, the much derided classical tradition was upheld and the old notions about nature, wrong as they were, slowly improved by the self-correcting mechanism that makes science particularly successful in the investigation of nature. As for the reputation of Paracelsus and his enduring fame, the continuing admiration of which he is the object has probably four main reasons: 1. his admirable compassion for the poor and underprivileged (in his last will, he wrote: “[I leave what I have] to my heirs, the poor, miserable, needy people, those who have neither money nor provision, without favor or disfavor; poverty and want being the only qualification;” [76] he also often exhibited notable humanitarian and ethical attitudes toward the patient [77] and, as noted above, was the first to write on occupational diseases, namely those of mine and smelter workers); 2. the fact that he took both sides on the issue of empirical knowledge versus intuition and magic, satisfying everybody (for example, while extolling the value of the magical and the occult, he wrote “Do not let fancy overpower you — the outward eyes must confirm everything” [78]); 3. his opposition to authority, which makes him admirable in the eyes of all non-conformists [79]; 4. the haziness of his theories, which endears him to those who prefer fuzziness to rigor [80].

Paracelsus : a reevaluation In spite of his esoterism and its outward complexity, Paracelsus’ medicine was simply a return to the old supernaturalistic medicine. The fact that, at the time, official medicine was quite unsatisfactory and that some of his terms coincide with modern counterparts do not add merit to his system. He did not develop an improved medical paradigm; in reality, as has been noted [81], he founded an alternative medicine, that is, he was yet another proponent of one of these recurring irrational medical systems that, as we have discussed elsewhere [82], crop up from time to time throughout history. They usually consist in attempts to return to simplistic backyard (and backward) medicine. Far from being a forerunner of future scientific achievements, Paracelsus was furiously charging into a blind alley. Yet, his popularity is now at an all-time high: Today, in the new efflorescence of interest in the esoteric and the expanding practice of alternative medicine, one may again detect the perennial ideas of Paracelsus [83].

5. Allen G. Debus, The Chemical Philosophy: Paracelsian Science and Medicine in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries , New York, Dover Publications, 2002 (reprint of 1977 edition), pp. 56-7. 6. Audrey B. Davis, “The Circulation of the Blood and Chemical Anatomy,” in: Science, Medicine and Society in the Renaissance, edited by Allen G. Debus, New York, Science History Publications, 1972, 2 Vols., II, pp. 25-37. 7. Paracelsus, Opus Paramirum, I, ix. Translated and quoted by Goodrick-Clarke in: Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Paracelsus: Esssential Readings, Berkeley, North Atlantic Books, 1999, p. 78. See also: Allen G. Debus, The Chemical Philosophy: Paracelsian Science and Medicine in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, New York, Dover Publications, 2002 (reprint of 1977 edition), p. 57. 8. Paracelus, Labyrinthus medicorum, in: J. Huser, Paracelsus. Bücher und Schrifften, Basel, 1589-1591, 10 Vols., II, pp. 228-232. Quoted by Webster in: Charles Webster, “Paracelsus: medicine as popular protest,” in: Medicine and the Reformation, edited by Ole Peter Grell and Andrew Cunningham, London, Routledge, 1993, pp. 57-77. 9. Matthew 2:1-12. 10. Webster Charles, “Paracelsus on Natural and Popular Magic,” in: Atti del Convegno Internazionale su Paracelso , Roma, 17-18 December, 1993, pp. 89-106.

Indeed, the ideas of Paracelsus are perennial. They surface again and again whenever humanity is affected by one of its recurrent fits of irrationality [84].

11. For details on the influence of Gnosticism and NeoPlatonism, see: Walter Pagel, “Paracelsus and the Neoplatonic and Gnostic Tradition” in: Walter Pagel, Religion and Neoplatonism in Renaissance Medicine , edited by Marianne Winder, London, Variorum Reprints, 1985, VI, pp. 125-66.

References

12. See: Plinio Prioreschi. A history of Medicine, vol. V, Medieval Medicine, Omaha, Horatius Press, 2003.

1. A more detailed discussion of this subject will be found in: Plinio Prioreschi, A History of Medicine, Vol. VI, Renaissance Medicine, Omaha, Horatius Press, scheduled to be published in 2006. 2. Several groups, including the National Socialists, have considered Paracelsus their hero. See: Marianne Winder, “Preface,” in: Walter Pagel, Religion and Neoplatonism in Renaissance Medicine, edited by Marianne Winder, London, Variorum Reprints, 1985, p. IX. 3. Dietlinde Goltz, “Paracelsus as a Guiding Model — Historians and their Object,” in: Paracelsus: The Man and his Reputation, his Ideas and their Transformation , edited by Ole Peter Grell, Brill, Leiden, 1998, pp. 79-100. 4. A rather favorable survey of the worldview of Paracelsus can be found in: Alexandre Koyré, “Paracelsus,” in: Alexandre Koyré, Mystiques, spirituals, alchimistes du XVIe siècle allemand, Paris, Gallimard, 1971, pp. 75-129.

13. Paracelsus, A Book on Nymphs, Sylphs, Pygmies, and Salamanders and on the other Spirits, translated by Henry Sigerist, in: Four Treatises of Theophrastus von Hohenheim Called Paracelsus, edited by Henry E. Sigerist, Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins Press, 1941, pp. 223-53 (231). 14. Paracelsus, A Book on Nymphs, Sylphs, Pygmies, and Salamanders and on the other Spirits, translated by Henry Sigerist, in: Four Treatises of Theophrastus von Hohenheim Called Paracelsus, edited by Henry E. Sigerist, Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins Press, 1941, pp. 223-53 (251). 15. Cunningham Andrew, The Anatomical Renaissance, Aldershot, Scolar Press, 1997, pp. 195-6, p. 245. 16. Paracelsus attributed to the word arcana, various meanings, e.g., divine forces of nature, virtues immanent in individual objects, specific cures for specific diseases. For a discussion on this topic, see: Paul F. Cranefield and Walter Federn, “The Begetting of Fools: An annotated

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P. Prioreschi translation of Paracelsus’ De generatione stultorum,” Bull. Hist. Med., XLI, 56-74; 161-74; 1967.

and Pyarali Rattansi, “Vesalius and Paracelsus,” Medical

17. Paracelus, Labyrinthus medicorum, in: J. Huser, Paracelsus. Bücher und Schrifften, Basel, 1589-1591, 10 Vols., II, pp. 224-41. Quoted by Webster in: Charles Webster, “Paracelsus: medicine as popular protest,” in: Medicine and the Reformation, edited by Ole Peter Grell and Andrew Cunningham, London, Routledge, 1993, pp. 57-77.

29. For more details about the etiology and pathogenesis of

18. Paracelsus, Volumen medicinae paramirum, translated by Kurt F. Leidecker, Supplement to Bulletin of the History of Medicine, No. 11, Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins Press, 1949, p. 29. 19. As translated by Harris L. Coulter, A Divided Legacy: A History of the Schism in Medical Thought, Washington, Wehawken Book Co., 3 vols, 1973-77, I, p. 407, from the German in Sämtliche Werke, vol. 6, pp. 332-3. Quoted by Cunningham in: Andrew Cunningham, The Anatomical Renaissance, Aldershot, Scolar Press, 1997, pp. 195-6, p. 245. 20. Fragm. ad De modo pharmac., tract. III, Sudhoff IV, p. 477. Quoted by Pagel and Rattansi in: Walter Pagel and Pyarali Rattansi, “Vesalius and Paracelsus,” Medical History, VIII, 309-28, 1964. 21. Not to be confused with Iliaster, which is a “general reservoir… of primordial matter-energy.” See: Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Paracelsus: Esssential Readings, Berkeley, North Atlantic Books, 1999, p. 28. 22. Walter Pagel, Paracelsus: An Introduction to Philosophical Medicine in the Era of the Renaissance, 2nd edition, Basel, Karger, 1982, pp. 129-31. 23. A sulfate of any of various metals, as copper, iron, or zinc. 24. The residue of vitriol after distillation. See: Walter Pagel, Paracelsus: An Introduction to Philosophical Medicine in the Era of the Renaissance, 2nd edition, Basel, Karger, 1982, p. 130, note N° 9. 25. Audrey B. Davis, “The Circulation of the Blood and Chemical Anatomy,” in: Science, Medicine and Society in the Renaissance, edited by Allen G. Debus, New York, Science History Publications, 1972, 2 Vols., II, pp. 25-37. 26. Paracelsus, Opus paramirum, I, i. Translated and quoted by Goodrick-Clarke in: Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Paracelsus: Esssential Readings, Berkeley, North Atlantic Books, 1999, p. 45.

History, VIII, 309-28, 1964. the plague according to Paracelsus, see: Walter Pagel, Paracelsus: An Introduction to Philosophical Medicine in the Era of the Renaissance, 2nd edition, Basel, Karger, 1982, pp. 178-82. 30. Charles Webster, “Paracelsus, Paracelsianism, and the Secularization of the Worldview,” Science in Context, XV, 9-27, 2002. 31. Von den hinfallenden Siechtagen; Paracelsus, Sämtliche Werke. 1 Abteilung. Medizinische, naturwissenschaftliche und philosophische Schriften, edited by Karl Sudhoff, Berlin, R. Oldenbourg, 1922-1933, 8, 281-2. Quoted by Webster in: Charles Webster, “Paracelsus, Paracelsianism, and the Secularization of the Worldview,” Science in Context, XV, 9-27, 2002. 32. Quoted by Temkin in: Owsei Temkin, “The Elusiveness of Paracelsus,” Bull. Hist. Med., XXVI, 201-17, 1952. 33. Charles Webster, “Paracelsus: medicine as popular protest,” in: Medicine and the Reformation, edited by Ole Peter Grell and Andrew Cunningham, London, Routledge, 1993, pp. 57-77. 34. Paracelus, Labyrinthus medicorum, in: J. Huser, Paracelsus. Bücher und Schrifften, Basel, 1589-1591, 10 Vols., II, pp. 191-3, 194-5, 200-1, 224-8. Quoted by Webster in: Charles Webster, “Paracelsus: medicine as popular protest,” in: Medicine and the Reformation, edited by Ole Peter Grell and Andrew Cunningham, London, Routledge, 1993, pp. 57-77. 35. Paracelsus, Paragranum, Lib. I. See: Walter Pagel, Paracelsus: An Introduction to Philosophical Medicine in the Era of the Renaissance, 2nd edition, Basel, Karger, 1982, pp. 144-5. 36. Great works in general. In this case, great remedies. 37. Germinal states capable of producing desired effects. In this case, healing.. 38. For a definition of arcana, see above. 39. Paracelsus, Selected Writings, edited by Jolande Jacobi, translated by Norbert Guterman, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1951, p. 84. 40. Owsei Temkin, “The Elusiveness of Paracelsus,” Bull. Hist. Med., XXVI, 201-17, 1952.

27. Calculus and what we would call calcifications (see note below).

41. “Contrary cures contrary;” e.g., ‘hot’ is treated with

28. “The Paracelsian tartar in the first place meant stones, gravel and other calcified, notably arthritic deposits, but in a broader sense any anatomical changes of organ substance into something new, a ‘parasitic,’ a ‘foreign’ formation such as tubercles or new growth.” Walter Pagel

42. “Like cures like.” This principle, according to which

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‘cold.’” “stone cures stone,” “cold cures cold,” etc., is a variation of the “Doctrine of the Signatures” (see below). See also Plinio Prioreschi, A History of Medicine, Omaha, Horatius Press, 1998, Volume III, General Conclusions.

Paracelsus : a reevaluation 43. Paracelsus, Das Buch Paragranum, I, viii. Translated and quoted by Goodrick-Clarke in: Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Paracelsus: Esssential Readings, Berkeley, North Atlantic Books, 1999, pp. 74-5. 44. The principle according to which, if there is a similarity (fanciful or real) between an agent (or part of it, for example, the fruit of a plant) and an organ of the body or symptom of a disease, such an agent would be beneficial for that organ or symptom. 45. Paracelsus, Labyrinthus medicorum, Chap. X, Ed. Sudhoff, Vol. XI, p. 210. Translated and quoted by Pagel in: Walter Pagel, Paracelsus: An Introduction to Philosophical Medicine in nd

the Era of the Renaissance, 2 edition, Basel, Karger, 1982, p. 149. 46. Walter Pagel, Paracelsus: An Introduction to Philosophical Medicine in the Era of the Renaissance, 2nd edition, Basel, Karger, 1982, p. 152. 47. Theophrastus von Hohenheim genannt Paracelsus. Sämtliche Werke in zeitgemässer Kürzung, herausgegeben von J. Strebel, St. Gallen, Zillinkofer, 4 Vols., 1944-1949, II, p. 129; Karl Sudhoff (Ed.), Theophrastus von Hohenheim, genannt Paracelsus, Sämtliche Werke. I Abteilung: Medizinische, naturwissenschaftliche und philosophische Schriften, Vols. 6-9, Munich, O. W. Barth, 1922-1925; Vols. 1-5 and 1014, Munich, Berlin, R. Oldenbourg, 1928-1933, XIV, p. 70. We want to thank Lilla Vekerdy, of Washington University in St. Louis, for supplying the references of Paracelsus’ passages both in the Strebel’s and Sudhoff’s editions. 48. Theophrastus von Hohenheim genannt Paracelsus. Sämtliche Werke in zeitgemässer Kürzung, herausgegeben von J. Strebel, St. Gallen, Zillinkofer, 4 Vols., 1944-1949, II, p. 129. 49. Paracelsus, The Diseases that Deprive Man of his Reason, translated by Gregory Zilboorg, in: Four Treatises of Theophrastus von Hohenheim Called Paracelsus, edited by Henry E. Sigerist, Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins Press, 1941, pp. 142-212 (182). 50. Walter Pagel, Paracelsus: An Introduction to Philosophical Medicine in the Era of the Renaissance, 2nd edition, Basel, Karger, 1982, p. 200. 51. Ackerknecht has suggested that this ambivalent attitude toward mental illness was the product of confused thinking rather than depth of understanding. E. H. Ackerknecht, Kurze Geshichte der Psychiatrie, Stuttgart, 1957, p. 26. Quoted by Pagel in: Walter Pagel, Paracelsus: An Introduction to Philosophical Medicine in the Era of the Renaissance, 2nd edition, Basel, Karger, 1982, p. 152. 52. Paracelso, Paragrano, edited by Ferruccio Masini, Bari, Laterza, 1973, pp. 82-83.

53. Paracelsus, Paramirum, I, 7-8. Quoted by Pagel in: Walter Pagel, “Religious Motives in the Medical Biology of the XVIIth Century,” in: Walter Pagel, Religion and Neoplatonism in Renaissance Medicine, edited by Marianne Winder, London, Variorum Reprints, 1985, II, pp. 97-312. 54. Paracelsus, Selected Writings, edited by Jolande Jacobi, translated by Norbert Guterman, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1951, pp. 5-6. See also: Allen G. Debus, The Chemical Philosophy: Paracelsian Science and Medicine in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, New York, Dover Publications, 2002 (reprint of 1977 edition), p. 52. 55. Paracelsus, Selected Writings, edited by Jolande Jacobi, translated by Norbert Guterman, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1951, p. 53. 56. Webster says: “This commentator was above all impressed by the audacious confidence of the ‘rationalist and scientific’ approach adopted by Paracelsus.” Charles Webster, “Paracelsus, Paracelsianism, and the Secularization of the Worldview,” Science in Context, XV, 9-27, 2002. 57. Luigi Stroppiana, “La filosofia del macro e microcosmo nell’universale paracelsiano,” in: Atti del Convegno Internazionale su Paracelso, Roma, 17-18 December, 1993, pp. 107-18. 58. Wolfang U. Eckart, “Medizin und Ethik im Werk des Theophrast von Hoheneim, genannt Paracelsus,” in: Atti del Convegno Internazionale su Paracelso, Roma, 17-18 December, 1993, pp. 37-45; Angelo Capparoni, “Etica Medica in Paracelso,” in: Atti del Convegno Internazionale su Paracelso, Roma, 17-18 December, 1993, pp. 46-56. 59. Gerald Shklar, “Paracelsus: Renaissance Physician, Mystic and Iconoclast. Oral Disease Concepts,” Journal of the History of Dentistry, XLVIII, 3, 123-6, 2000. 60. Francis McKee, “The Paracelsian Kitchen,” in: Paracelsus: The Man and his Reputation, his Ideas and their Transformation, edited by Ole Peter Grell, Brill, Leiden, 1998, pp. 293-308. 61. For other expressions of admiration, see: Dietlinde Goltz, “Paracelsus as a Guiding Model — Historians and their Object,” in: Paracelsus: The Man and his Reputation, his Ideas and their Transformation, edited by Ole Peter Grell, Brill, Leiden, 1998, pp. 79-100. 62. Karl Sudhoff, “The Literary Remains of Paracelsus,” translated by George Panebaker, in: Essays in the History of Medicine by Karl Sudhoff, edited by Fielding H. Garrison, New York, Medical Life Press, 1926, pp. 275-85. 63. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Paracelsus: Esssential Readings, Berkeley, North Atlantic Books, 1999, p. 31. 64. Numtaz A. Siddiqui, Nirav J. Mehta, Ijaz A. Khan, “Paracelsus: the Hippocrates of the Renaissance,” Journal of Medical Biography, XI, 78-80, 2003.

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P. Prioreschi 65. Mario Leoni, “Opening Address,” Atti del Convegno Internazionale su Paracelso, Roma, 17-18 December, 1993, pp. 13-7. 66. H.P. Bayon, “Paracelsus: Personality, doctrine, and his alleged influence in the reform of medicine,” Proc. Royal Soc. Med. (Sec. Hist. Med.), XXXV, 69-76, 1941-42. 67. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Paracelsus: Essential Readings, Berkeley, North Atlantic Books, 1999, p. 33. 68. Paracelsus, On the Miners’ Sickness and Other Miners’ Diseases, translated by George Rosen, in: Four Treatises of Theophrastus von Hohenheim Called Paracelsus, edited by Henry E. Sigerist, Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins Press, 1941, pp. 56-126. 69. See: Walter Pagel, Paracelsus: An Introduction to Philosophical Medicine in the Era of the Renaissance, 2nd edition, Basel, Karger, 1982, pp. 200-2. 70. See: Andrew Cunningham, “Paracelsus Fat and Thin: Thoughts on Reputations and Realities” in: Paracelsus: The Man and his Reputation, his Ideas and their Transformation, edited by Ole Peter Grell, Brill, Leiden, 1998, pp. 53-77; Allen G. Debus, “Paracelsianism and the Diffusion of the Chemical Philosophy in early modern Europe,” in: Paracelsus: The Man and his Reputation, his Ideas and their Transformation, edited by Ole Peter Grell, Brill, Leiden, 1998, pp. 225-44: J. R. R. Christie, “The Paracelsian Body,” in: Paracelsus: The Man and his Reputation, his Ideas and their Transformation, edited by Ole Peter Grell, Brill, Leiden, 1998, pp. 269-91. 71. Paracelsus, Opus paramirum, I, ix. Translated and quoted by Goodrick-Clarke in: Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Paracelsus: Esssential Readings, Berkeley, North Atlantic Books, 1999, pp. 82-3. 72. Walter Pagel, Paracelsus: An Introduction to Philosophical Medicine in the Era of the Renaissance, 2nd edition, Basel, Karger, 1982, p. 192. 73. Andrew Weeks, Paracelsus: Speculative Theory and the Crisis of the Early Reformation, New York, State University Press, 1997, p. 62. 74. Paracelsus, Sämtliche Werke, I, 1, p. 165. Translated and quoted by Weeks in: Andrew Weeks, Paracelsus: Speculative Theory and the Crisis of the Early Reformation, New York, State University Press, 1997, p. 62. 75. Paracelsus, Selected Writings, edited by Jolande Jacobi, translated by Norbert Guterman, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1951, pp. 63-4. 76. Quoted by Hargrave in: John Hargrave, The Life and Soul of Paracelsus, London, Victor Gollancz, 1951, p. 242.

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77. Walter Pagel, Paracelsus: An Introduction to Philosophical Medicine in the Era of the Renaissance, 2nd edition, Basel, Karger, 1982, p. 200. 78. Quoted by Medicus in: Fritz Medicus, “The Scientific Significance of Paracelsus,” Bulletin of the Institute of the History of Medicine, IV, 5, 353-66, 1936. 79. His opposition to the miraculous interventions of saints in health and disease, for example, has been hailed as a contribution “to one of the important cultural changes of the Reformation” (Charles Webster, “Paracelsus Confronts the Saints: Miracles, Healing and the Secularization of Magic,” Social History of Medicine, VII, 3, 40321, 1995). In reality, he substituted the saints of the church with nymphs, sylphs, salamanders, and homunculi. The same author, in the same work, also says “The elimination of saints and their miracles and the substitution of explanations based on physical and psychic causation, in themselves constituted an important gain in territory for science and medicine.” Nymphs, sylphs, salamanders, and homunculi are simply forgotten. 80. Goltz says: “We find that… [his] sentences — and especially those quoted most frequently for their alleged conciseness and profound contents — are but mere sermon-style rhetoric or empty words which can be filled by every reader at will with his own ideas and phantasms. At this point, Paracelsus extends his whole hand to those historians keen to transfer their ideal of selfhood to him.” Dietlinde Goltz, “Paracelsus as a Guiding Model — Historians and their Object,” in: Paracelsus: The Man and his Reputation, his Ideas and their Transformation, edited by Ole Peter Grell, Brill, Leiden, 1998, pp. 79-100. 81. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Paracelsus: Essential Readings, Berkeley, North Atlantic Books, 1999, p. 33. Quoted above. 82. Plinio Prioreschi, “Alternative Medicine in Ancient and Medieval History,” Medical Hypotheses, LV, 319-25, 2000. See also: Plinio Prioreschi, A History of Medicine, Omaha, Horatius Press, 2003, Volume V, General Conclusions. 83. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Paracelsus: Essential Readings, Berkeley, North Atlantic Books, 1999, p. 37. 84. “Today healing methods by ‘invisible’ powers again are very popular. I refer only to so-called spiritual healings and magnetopathy (Heilmagnetismus), with its complex religious, spiritual (and even spiritistic), magical and psychological techniques.” Heinz Schott, “’Invisible Diseases’ — Imagination and Magnetism: Paracelsus and the Consequences,” in: Paracelsus: The Man and his Reputation, his Ideas and their Transformation, edited by Ole Peter Grell, Brill, Leiden, 1998, pp. 309-21.