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7 Back to the Bone: The End of Aesthesis

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Chapter Summary

Aesthesis in eighteenth-century anatomy was characterized by several factors: gaining knowledge through sensory perception; searching for perfection and elegance; dealing with disgust by either using visual or literary strategies; seeking systems and meanings in the negatives of deformation and pathologies; and a stabilization and categorization of the human body through commodification and decoration. All these aspects can be retraced through the materiality of the eighteenth-century Leiden anatomical preparations. In this chapter, the materiality of a very particular kind of anatomical preparations enables us to understand the end of aesthesis: bone preparations. It shows that the appearance of different kinds of bone preparations in the Leiden anatomical collections throughout the eighteenth century fitted in with the contemporary research interests of the Leiden anatomists, and resulted from the epistemic culture of aesthesis.

Keywords: aesthesis; commodification; dry pathological bone preparations; eighteenth-century Leiden anatomical preparations; sensory perception

10.1163/9789004262775_008
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