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Losing Ground. The Disappearance of Attraction from the Kidneys

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Chapter Summary

Historians of physiology always start the modern history of the kidney from Marcello Malpighi in 1666, writing in the wake of Harveian circulation. Galen developed the idea of attraction as a physiological agent in On the Natural Faculties, and exemplifies it there by appealing to the activity of the kidneys. In a sense, the man who launched a revolution in the study of the kidney was Giovanni Borelli, who by the 1650s was deeply committed to a search for mechanistic explanations in physiology and he encouraged a young protégé, Lorenzo Bellini, to apply the microscope to the investigation of renal anatomy. As a result, Bellini was able to see that the kidney was in fact made up of a mass of 'fibres', and he recognised that these were probably the channels by which urine passed out of the organ.

Keywords:attractive power; Galen; kidney; Lorenzo Bellini; Marcello Malpighi; On the Natural Faculties; renal anatomy



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