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Discipline And Praxis: Thomas Browne In Leiden

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Chapter Summary

On 21 December Browne received his M.D. from Professor Adolph Vorstius. More than anything else, the university in Leiden insisted on the practicalities ? vocational, commercial, moral, spiritual, and national ? of a medical education. Leiden?s greatest value for Browne derived from the fact that the university awarded him an M.D. in 1633. A collection of twenty-six Leiden medical theses from 1639?1640 corroborates that Browne?s focus on smallpox was typical of contemporary. Moral discipline was urged by the theatre?s depiction of eight virtuous Roman heroes, including Horatius Cocles, Marcus Curtius, Mucius Scaevola, among others, all suggestive of the lesson that virtue alone resists mortality in this world. The botanical garden and anatomy theatre offered uncontroversial lessons in the fragility of human life, in the responsibilities of vocation, and in the need to limit curiosity within religious and moral boundaries.

Keywords: botanical garden; Leiden University; moral discipline; smallpox; Thomas Browne



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