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Lodewijk de Bils’ and Tobias Andreae’s Cartesian Bodies: Embalmment Experiments, Medical Controversies and Mechanical Philosophy

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This essay concerns the penetration of Cartesian ideas into medical practices and theories related to new anatomical techniques in the mid seventeenth century, and with their transfer from the Netherlands to Flanders and Germany. It begins with an overview of debates on embalmment and dissection, which were provoked by the work of the Flemish anatomical practitioner Lodewijk de Bils (1624-1671). The presence of Cartesian themes in these debates is here considered, followed by an examination of the reception and implementation of De Bils’ techniques by medical Cartesians in Germany, with a focus on the embalmment experiments conducted in Frankfurt (Oder) by De Bils’ former assistant, professor Tobias Andreae (1633-1685), and finally, an assessment of the Cartesian framework underlying these medical experimentation and debates.

Affiliations: 1: Ca’ Foscari University of Venice


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