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The Status of Leibniz’ Medical Experiments: A Provisional Empiricism?

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the status of medical experiments using the Leibnizian conception of knowledge. It considers whether experimentation is a "perceptive foretaste" or a real condition for the advancement of knowledge. The chapter argues that acting on bodies could be a way to understand them. It establishes a place for medical experiments in the field of learning. The chapter identifies a "provisional empiricism" in Leibniz' medical texts. The chapter describes the central importance of the ambivalent notion of action (actio in se ipsum) in understanding the internal force at work in physical bodies as a sign of substantiality. Leibniz explains in practical terms how to build a microscope, and how large numbers of them can open the way to a "theatre of nature" consisting of a "whole cabinet of microscopes" which will lead to rapid progress.

Keywords: Leibnizian conception; medical experiments; microscope; provisional empiricism



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