In 1543 Andreas Vesalius published his landmark work of anatomy, On the Fabric of the Human Body, which delved inside the human body to see what made it work. Vesalius’s illustrations of body parts were based on what could be seen with the eyes through the practice of dissection. Thereafter the most authoritative philosophical and medical pronouncements of the day (by the Hippocratics, Galen, and Ibn Sina) were put to rest unless the eye of the inquirer could confirm them. Vesalius’s masterpiece represents a paradigm shift in education from theoretical to visual — a revolution that was involving at the same time artistic forms from painting to theater and extended to protoscientific explorations. Art, literature, and science moved from theoretical discussions often grounded on faith to revolutionary ways of focusing on visuality and the self. There was no turning back; the following decades provided a stunning series of discoveries that paved the way for the medical advances and laboratory breakthroughs that followed. Contributions to this special issue consider broadly conceived questions about the languages of anatomy and show what an interdisciplinary framework can offer when examining biological and physiological materials.
Research Article|January 01 2018
Valeria Finucci; Vesalius and the Languages of Anatomy. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 January 2018; 48 (1): 1–9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-4280828
Download citation file: