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Paracelsianism and the Orthodox Lutheran Rejection of Vital Philosophy in Early Seventeenth-Century Denmark

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Paracelsian medicine and natural philosophy was formed during the Radical Reformation and incorporated metaphysical propositions that were incompatible with the Lutheran confession as codified in the Confessio Augustana and elaborated in the ultra-orthodox Formula of Concord. Although Paracelsian ideas and practices were endorsed by important philosophers and physicians in late-sixteenth century Denmark without raising serious alarm, the imposition of strict Lutheran orthodoxy in the Danish Church and a concomitant resurgence of Aristotelian philosophy drew attention to the religious heterodoxies inherent in Paracelsianism. Unacceptable theological and religious propositions, which reached Denmark in Rosicrucian texts and were implicit in certain medical and philosophical treatises, were in many cases inseparable from core Paracelsian concepts, with the result that Danish academic philosophers, physicians, and theologians rejected Paracelsian ideas except where they could be accommodated to acceptable Galenic and Aristotelian interpretations. When this was done, such ideas are arguably no longer Paracelsian in any meaningful way.

Affiliations: 1: University of Minnesota


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