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The Invisible Hand of God in Seeds: Jacob Schegk's Theory of Plastic Faculty

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In his embryological treatise De plastica seminis facultate (Strasburg, 1580), Jacob Schegk (1511-1587), professor of philosophy and medicine at the University of Tübingen, developed, through a unique interpretation of the Aristotelian embryology, a theory of the "plastic faculty" (facultas plastica), whose origin lay in the Galenic idea of the formative power. The present study analyses the precise nature of Schegk's theory, by setting it in its historical and intellectual context. It will also discuss the hitherto unappreciated Neoplatonic dimension of Schegk's notion of the soul's vehicle.

Affiliations: 1: Centre for History of Science, Ghent University


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