GEMS Lecture 2019 with Professor Hiro Hirai (Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Radboud University, Netherlands)

Galen in the Medical Context of the Scientific Revolution

Date: Monday, 29 April 2019
Time: 4 – 6 PM
Location: Plateauzaal (Jozef Plateaustraat 22, Gent)

Galen (129–ca. 216) left a significant number of writings, over 100 treatises in a modern edition, which represent some 12 percent of ancient Greek literature. Although Galenism dominated the tradition of Western medicine, knowledge of his writings was relatively limited during the Middle Ages. The substantial body of these writings was made available in Europe thanks to the Aldine Greek edition (Venice, 1525), followed by a flood of Latin translations. In my paper, I will examine the impact of some key texts of Galen at the threshold of early modern science and philosophy. To this end I will focus on the particular use of Galen’s writings and teachings by Jean Fernel (1497–1558) of Paris, one of the most influential physicians of the Renaissance, and other physician-philosophers who were his contemporaries and followers in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.


Image references:
1. Nicolas de Larmessin, Portrait of Jean François Fernel. Engraving. Holding Institution: Smithsonian Libraries (Washington, DC);
2. Title page of Galen’s Aldine Greek edition (Venice 1525).


International Conference: “Coordinating the Two Books”


This conference examines the configuration of confessional interests and epistemic concerns at the interface of hermeneutics and science. Current historiography does not appreciate early modern Catholic endeavours in generating knowledge about the Book of Nature and the Word of God in their own right. At best, they tend to be regarded as a stepping stone to the ‘real thing’, the Protestant study of nature as an act of devotion to God. It is high time to re-integrate early modern Catholic intellectual output in the received history of ways of managing religious and natural knowledge. This conference aims to contribute to studying Catholic’s proper trajectory in aligning natural enquiry and textual authority.


22 Nov.
9h00 all welcome at KANTL
(Koningstraat 18, Ghent)
9h15 Steven Vanden Broecke
9h30 Dario Tessicini
‘The Comet and the Plague:
Catholic Astrology, Meteorology and Medicine in Early Modern Venice’
10h00 Steve Matthews
‘The Jesuits, Biblical Hermeneutics, and the Scientific Revolution’
10h30 discussion
11h00 coffee break
11h30 Jonathan Regier
‘On Providence and Natural Cause:
Reading Cardano with the Roman Inquisition’
12h00 Anthony Ossa Richardson
‘Mersenne’s Two Books’
12h30 discussion
13h00 lunch
14h30 Eric Jorink
‘Reading the Book of Nature with Cartesian Glasses:
the Cases of Johannes Swammerdam and Nicolaus Steno’
15h00 Thomas Leinkauf
‘The “Book of Nature” and strategies of persuasion’
15h30 discussion
16h00 coffee break
16h30 KEY-NOTE:
Bernd Roling
‘Return From the Dead:
The Raising of Lazarus in Early Modern Biblical Commentaries and Natural Philosophy’
19h00 dinner
23 Nov.
9h00 all welcome at Sint-Baafshuis
(Biezekapelstraat 2, Ghent)
9h30 Jetze Touber
‘Slime of the Earth:
Biblical Contours of the Human Body as Microcosm in the Early 17th century’
10h00 Sietske Fransen
‘The Role of Catholicism in the Lives and Works of Father and Son Van Helmont’
10h30 discussion
11h00 coffee break
11h30 Steven Vanden Broecke
‘Belief, Piety and Erudition in Low Countries Baroque Science:
The Case of Govaert Wendelen (1580-1667)’
12h00 Florence Hsia
‘Biblical History and the Challenge of Chinese Astronomy’
12h30 discussion
14h00 lunch
14h30 Elena Rapetti
‘Reason in the limits of Faith:
Pierre-Daniel Huet, André Graindorge, and the making of science at the Académie de physique de Caen
15h00 Scott Mandelbrote
‘Newtonian philology:
Co-ordinating the two books in early eighteenth-century Europe’
15h30 discussion
16h00 coffee break
Jetze Touber
‘Concluding Discussion’

Organized by Jetze Touber and Steven Vanden Broecke (History Department, Ghent University), in conjunction with the IEMH.

To register, please contact Jetze Touber at