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The Nature and Care of the Whole Man: Francis Bacon and Some Late Renaissance Contexts

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In the early seventeenth century Francis Bacon called for the institution of a distinct field of theoretical and practical knowledge that would deal with the tight interrelationship between the mind and the body of man, which he dubbed “the inquirie tovching hvmane natvre entyre” (Advancement of Learning, Book II). According to Bacon, such knowledge was already in existence, but unfortunately scattered in medical and religious texts. As a remedy, he proposed an integrated and autonomous account that would constitute “one general science concerning the Nature and State of Man” (De augmentis scientiarum, Book IV). Such an account would concern itself with both the nature of the bond (vinculum) between mind and body (ibid.) and with the medical-religious care of man in his entirety. My purpose here is to identify a number of late Renaissance contexts that flagged a comparable type of preoccupation with the nature and care of the ‘whole man’ from a perspective that similarly strove to combine philosophy, medicine and theology.


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