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p a r t o n e the rise of mechanistic and microscopic anatomy Malpighi’s Formation and Association with Borelli The rise of mechanistic and microscopic anatomy went hand in hand with several examples of collaborations among anatomists and physico-mathematicians. Such collaborations were a common and important phenomenon characterizing most of the seventeenth century, much like the collaborations between artists, botanists, and anatomists in the sixteenth century. Traditionally Descartes is considered a key figure in mechanistic anatomy for his anatomical interest and publications, starting in 1637 with the Discours de la méthode, and for his debates and association with several anatomists. Similar associations and collaborations, however, extended well beyond Descartes and his immediate disciples. The decade-long collaboration between Borelli and Malpighi was one of the most visible and productive of the whole century. Although Malpighi learned the art of dissecting and vivisecting at Bologna, it was largely at Pisa that he transformed his philosophical outlook under the tutelage of the mathematics professor Borelli and learned microscopy. After exploring Malpighi’s intellectual and technical formation at Bologna and Pisa in relation to similar settings elsewhere in Europe, part I studies the key period of that collaboration, focusing on Malpighi’s first publications on the lungs, his defense of neoteric medicine against the most traditional Galenism, and the 1665 works on the brain and the organs of sensation—notably the tongue and skin. I set his research against both traditional doctrines and some of the most significant contemporary investigations and philosophical reflections, paying special attention to seventeenth-century perceptions, as they are documented in contemporary debates and in the pages of the Bibliotheca anatomica. I focus in particular on the research carried out by other anatomists in Borelli’s circle and several English anatomists and physicians. Chapter 3 is especially devoted to the interplay between atomism and the 28 The Rise of Mechanistic and Microscopic Anatomy organs of sensation; the links among corpuscularism, sensory perception, and the role of color in particular involve philosophical, experimental, chymical, and medical issues and emerge as a common thread tying all the chapters in part I. The young anatomist Jean Pecquet was a key figure in the anatomical world of the time for his finding of the thoracic duct, mechanistic standpoint, and collaboration with physico-mathematicians. Pecquet’s discovery of the thoracic duct denied the liver’s traditional role and, much like Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of blood, shook the foundations of traditional anatomy and medicine. Unlike Harvey, however, Pecquet was sympathetic to the new mechanistic anatomy, and, unlike Descartes, he was a careful and skillful dissector. The figure below reproduces the title page of a dedication copy of the 1654 edition of Pecquet’s Experimenta nova anatomica with Figure PI. Pecquet, Experimenta nova anatomica: dedication copy to Roberval The Rise of Mechanistic and Microscopic Anatomy 29 Pecquet’s inscription to the Paris mathematician Gilles Personne de Roberval. Pecquet witnessed and reported Roberval’s celebrated experiment with the air bladder of a carp, arguing that air was elastic, and explained the motion of chyle according to mechanical principles without having recourse to attraction. Thus, this dedication copy— “Pour Monsieur De Roberval par son tres humble Serviteur Pecquet”—embodies one of the most significant and representative seventeenth-century collaborations. This page intentionally left blank ...


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