Practical Experience in Anatomy

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    • Pages : 33 à 57
    • ISBN : 978-90-481-3685-8
    • ISSN : 0929-6425
    • DOI : 10.1007/978-90-481-3686-5_3
    • Date de création : 04-01-2011
    • Dernière mise à jour : 25-02-2015



    Often flagged as an origin of empiricism, experience has a range of meanings in the context of early modern natural philosophy and medicine. It has been aligned with practical knowledge, knowledge of contingent effects, and the un-theorized perception of phenomena accessible to the senses. In the realm of anatomical inquiry, experience joined reason to constitute (according to Galen, Mondino, Berengario da Carpi, Niccolò Massa and many others) the approved anatomical method. For medical students, however, experience also meant manual skill and expertise (peritia). Students celebrated the manual expertise – the ability to cut open corpses and by dissecting internal and external structures, reveal them to the audience – of their professors and their peers. In Padua, the home of the famous anatomical theater of 1595, students connected these features of anatomical inquiry with private anatomical exercises rather than public demonstrations, especially those given by Giulio Casseri. This paper queries the private settings in which anatomical knowledge was produced and the roles that private anatomies played in recharging the meaning of experience and embodied knowledge in the fields of anatomy and surgery. Using the exchange between students, professors and local practitioners in Padua and Venice, this paper aims to reconsider the role of practical experience in anatomical training and its connection to learned surgeons and anatomists rather than the rustic ignorance of empirics or the secrets of women.