This study deals with honzōgaku in early modern Japan (1600–1868), a subject Federico Marcon defines “as a field of study of Chinese origins ancillary to medicine” “devoted to the pharmacological properties of minerals, plants, and animals” (x), which only in the Meiji period (1868–1912) merged into the new academics of botany, zoology, and biology. By instancing its development, he intends to show that intellectual, economic, political, and cultural processes played a critical role in the secularization of nature and the objectification of natural species that populated Japan (5). Crucial in these processes were the commodification of plants and animals by the increasing commercialization of agricultural production, and their transformation into an intellectual commodity, which led to the objectification of nature. As specimens, he explains, plants and animals constituted the myriads of things that populated the world (banbutsu). Yet...

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