Cesalpino and Aristotelian Science

and Aristotelian Science

The Transformation of Medical Botany in the 16th Century

Quentin Hiernaux
Corentin Tresnie

11 June 2024 – 5 PM (CEST)

In 1583 the Italian botanist and physician Andrea Cesalpino (1524–1603) published De Plantis Libri XVI, considered to be the first treatise where botany is treated independently from medicine. In so doing, he broke with a long tradition inherited in Western science from Antiquity and perpetuated during the Middle Ages through the early Renaissance.

At the same time, Cesalpino grounded his new approach in an original but well-informed interpretation of Aristotelian epistemology. This allowed the Italian philosopher to propose his own naturalistic teleology, as well as innovative uses of the old method of analogy.

De Plantis laid the foundations of scientific systematics through a new focus on plant morphology and natural similarities and became a milestone in the history of Western botany.

It is a precious testimony to the evolution of botanical and physiological knowledge in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and illustrates the role of Aristotelian philosophy in 16th-century science.

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