From flesh to fossils: Nicolaus Steno’s Anatomy of the Earth

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This paper explores the functions of natural philosophers at the court of the Medici through the case of anatomist/geologist Nicolaus Steno (1638 – 1686). By tracing Steno’s work during the years he spent in the service of the Florentine court this paper pinpoints how Steno’s natural philosophy was influenced by humanistic uses of historia. The use of historia enabled Steno to produce a knowledge that was both useful as a Medicean instrument of power, and allowed him to secure a truthful geological thesis without Aristotelian causes. From this perspective it becomes not so much a question of how medicine influenced geology as how the methods and knowledge from a study of medicine were beneficial at the beginning of the study of geology
Original languageEnglish
Book seriesGeological Society, London, Special Publications
Pages (from-to)289-305
Number of pages17
StatePublished - 2013

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