Department of History and Philosophy of Science
2013 to 2014
Chymistry, Corpuscularism, and Controversy: The Ideas and Influence of Daniel Sennert (1572-1637)
Abstract: This dissertation expands our understanding of seventeenth-century science and medicine by focusing on the influential but neglected Wittenberg professor and physician Daniel Sennert (1572-1637). By exploring overlooked interactions among chymistry, medicine, and atomism, this dissertation presents Sennert’s work in a new light, challenges existing notions about early modern experimentalism, and historicizes a period in the history of chymistry that has often been misrepresented. After assessing Sennert’s intellectual sources and the early development of his ideas, I turn to a study of the relation between Sennert’s atomical chymistry and his medicine, and especially his understanding of the causes of disease. Finally, I investigate the intellectual and cultural ramifications of Sennert’s work, including the controversy that arose over atomism with Johann Freitag. This approach allows for a larger treatment of chymistry and medicine in Germany, and more broadly, a rethinking of an important segment of the early-modern chymico-medical episteme. Read more about Joel's research as a fellow of the Consortium here.