Paracelsus, Paracelsianism, and
the secularization of the worldview

by
Webster C.
All Souls College,
Oxford.
Sci Context. 2002 Mar;15(1):9-27.


ABSTRACT

This paper examines Paracelsus and Paracelsianism in the light of the ideas of Max Weber concerning the social consequences of the Reformation, with special reference to his theories of Entzauberung and secularization. He linked these tendencies both to the rise of capitalism and the growth of experimental science. The detailed case study of Paracelsus' account of diseases linked with saints, in common with his interpretation of many other conditions, demonstrates that he self-consciously extended the boundaries of medicine and eroded the role of magic and witchcraft associated with the church. On the other hand, Paracelsus adopted the Neoplatonic worldview, was immersed in popular magic, and evolved a system of medicine that self-consciously revolved around magic. These factors seem to place a distinct limit on his role in the demystification of knowledge. However, the magic of Paracelsus entailed a decisive break with the entrenched elitist and esoteric tradition of the occultists and hermeticists. It is argued that this reconstructed magic re-establishes the credentials of Paracelsus as a significant contributor to the disenchantment and secularization of the worldview.
People
Paracelsus
Anaesthesia
Adverse effects
Obstetric anaesthesia
Molecular mechanisms
Inhalational techniques
Andreas Vesalius and surgery
Anaesthesia: rivalries and discoveries
Paracelsus, medicine and the imagination



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