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Machina Machinarum. Die Uhr als Begriff und Metapher zwischen 1450 und 1750

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image of Early Science and Medicine

The changing use of the clock metaphor serves as a helpful contrast medium to highlight the different concepts of the body-soul-system between 1450 and 1750. This article first relates to the social, political and philosophical functions of the horologium. Then it outlines the different fields of discourse, in which the clock metaphor was mainly invoked. Finally, it examines the writings of a number of significant authors (Cusanus, Ficino, Descartes, Leibniz, Wolff, La Mettrie) with an eye to the evolution of the clock metaphor in various theological, metaphysical and physiological contexts. Surprisingly enough, the clock (or watch) initially represented the life-giving soul and human consciousness, before turning into the well-known symbol for the bodymachine, and in particular for its neurophysiological operations.


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