Early Modern Empiricism and the Discourse of the Senses

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    • Pages: 59 to 74
    • ISBN: 978-90-481-3685-8
    • ISSN: 0929-6425
    • DOI: 10.1007/978-90-481-3686-5_4
    • Creation date: 04-01-2011
    • Last update: 25-02-2015



    The relationship between science and literary texts in the early seventeenth century has only rarely been examined by scholars yet it is of immense importance in explaining the achievement of scientists in the period. The emergence of a language of empiricism and its usage in genres as eclectic as cosmography and drama shaped the practice of science by providing expressions and concepts that could be applied by investigators to their inquiries. But it was not just the language that took effect. Empiricism and the senses became topics in their own right and the works they appeared in displayed energy and intensity and an excitement at the possibilities of using new narrative ideas to explain the world. Without this discourse of the senses the empirical practices that enabled the physiologist William Harvey to discover the circulation of the blood and the generation of the animal could possibly not have been devised.