March 29, 2017

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By Emily Booth

Walter Charleton (1619-1707) has been generally depicted as a average thinker whose highbrow profession reflected the highbrow ferment of the ‘scientific revolution’. rather than viewing him as a barometer of highbrow swap, I study the formerly unexplored query of his id as a doctor. analyzing 3 of his vernacular clinical texts, this quantity considers Charleton’s options on anatomy, body structure and the equipment through which he sought to appreciate the invisible tactics of the physique. even supposing eager about many empirical investigations in the Royal Society, he didn't supply epistemic primacy to experimental findings, nor did he intentionally establish himself with the empirical equipment linked to the ‘new science’. in its place Charleton offered himself as a scholarly eclectic, following a classical version of the self. Physicians had to propose either old and smooth professionals, which will allure and preserve sufferers. I argue that Charleton’s conditions as a training health professional led to the development of an identification at variance with that extensively linked to normal philosophers. The insights he can provide us into the realm of 17th century physicians are hugely major and completely attention-grabbing

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I do not claim that all physicians were eclectics, but rather that this philosophical tradition potentially offered a great deal to physicians. 64 In the final stages of writing up this study an article was released by Eric Lewis, upon exactly this aspect of Charleton’s thought. Lewis argues, as I do, that the physician’s epistemology was eclectic. ’65 Although he recognises that the author was a physician by profession, he nevertheless perceives the latter’s writing entirely through the lens of natural philosophy.

The dearth of source material on Charleton’s College activities perhaps explains why his later years are scarcely touched upon by historians. Charles Goodall, The Royal College of Physicians of London, London, 1684, p. xix. 127 He had communicated a list of conditions under which he would take up the offer,128 which included a request for one thousand gold crowns as travelling money. He confirmed his acceptance of Sarotti’s offer of a salary of one thousand five hundred florins per annum, to increase by 300 florins after five years if he was still in service.

126 127 128 129 Charleton, ‘Oratio Inauguralis, in Gymnasii Patavini sede Primaria solemniter habenda’, 1678. This is held in the manuscript collection of Charleton’s effects in the Bodleian Library, MS Smith 13, no. 44. The letters are held in the Bodleian Library, MS Smith 13, documents no. 40, 41, 42 and 43 (to Baptista Nannius). See ‘Charltoni Postulata Epistola ad Illustris D. D. Paulus Sarotti’, Bodleian Library, MS Smith 13, document no. 39. Charleton was accused of criticising Dr Blackmore’s method to a former patient of Blackmore’s.

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