Paracelsus was well known as a difficult man. He gained a reputation for being arrogant and soon garnered the anger of other physicians in Europe. Some even claim he was a habitual drinker. He was prone to many outbursts of abusive language, abhorred untested theory, and ridiculed anybody who placed more importance on titles than practice 'if disease put us to the test, all our splendor, title, ring, and name will be as much help as a horse's tail'.
During his time as a professor at University of Basel, he invited barber-surgeons, alchemists, apothecaries, and others lacking academic background to serve as examples of his belief that only those who practiced an art knew it: 'The patients are your textbook, the sickbed is your study. He angered his colleagues by lecturing in German instead of Latin in order to make medical knowledge more accessible to the common people. He is credited as the first to do so. He was the first to publicly condemn the medical authority of Avicenna and Galen and threw their writings into a bonfire on St. John's Day in In he bought the rights of citizenship in Strasbourg to establish his own practice.
But soon after he was called to Basel to the sickbed of Johann Froben or Frobenius, a successful printer and publisher. Based on historical accounts, Paracelsus cured Frobenius.
During that time, the Dutch Renaissance humanist Erasmus von Rotterdam, also at the University of Basel, witnessed the medical skills of Paracelsus, and the two scholars initiated a letter dialogue on medical and theological subjects. During his life, he was compared with Luther partly because his ideas were different from the mainstream and partly because of openly defiant acts against the existing authorities in medicine, such as his public burning of ancient books.
This act struck people as similar to Luther's defiance against the Church. Paracelsus rejected that comparison. Famously Paracelsus said, "I leave it to Luther to defend what he says and I will be responsible for what I say. That which you wish to Luther, you wish also to me: You wish us both in the fire. After slandering his opponents with vicious epithets due to a dispute over a physician's fee, Paracelsus had to leave Basel secretly fearing punishment by the court.
He became a tramp, wandering through Central Europe again. Around , he officially adopted the name Paracelsus which is presumed to mean 'surpassing Celsus", the Roman writer. He revised old manuscripts and wrote new ones but had trouble finding publishers. He died at the age of 47 in Salzburg, and his remains were buried according to his wishes in the cemetery at the church of St.
Sebastian in Salzburg. His remains are now located in a tomb in the porch of that church. After his death, the movement of Paracelsianism was seized upon by many wishing to subvert the traditional Galenic physics, and his therapies became more widely known and used. Most of Paracelsus' writings were published after his death and still much controversy prevailed.
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He was accused of leading "a legion of homicide physicians" and his books were called "heretical and scandalous". However, after many decades in , a new pharmacopeia by the Royal College of Physicians in London included paracelsian remedies. His motto was "Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself.
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Philosophy As a physician of the early 16th century, Paracelsus held a natural affinity with the Hermetic, Neoplatonic, and Pythagorean philosophies central to the Renaissance, a world-view exemplified by Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola. Paracelsus devoted several sections in his writings to the construction of astrological talismans for curing disease.
He also invented an alphabet called the Alphabet of the Magi, for engraving angelic names upon talismans. Paracelsus largely rejected the philosophies of Aristotle and Galen, as well as the theory of humors. Although he did accept the concept of the four elements as water, air, fire, and earth, he saw them merely as a foundation for other properties on which to build. Paracelsus was one of the first medical professors to recognize that physicians required a solid academic knowledge in the natural sciences, especially chemistry.
Paracelsus pioneered the use of chemicals and minerals in medicine. From his study of the elements, Paracelsus adopted the idea of tripartite alternatives to explain the nature of medicine, taking the place of a combustible element sulphur , a fluid and changeable element mercury , and a solid, permanent element salt. The first mention of the mercury, sulphur, salt model was in the Opus paramirum dating to about Paracelsus believed that the principles sulphur, mercury, and salt contained the poisons contributing to all diseases.
He saw each disease as having three separate cures depending on how it was afflicted, either being caused by the poisoning of sulphur, mercury, or salt. Paracelsus drew the importance of sulphur, salt and mercury from medieval alchemy, where they all occupied a prominent place.
He demonstrated his theory by burning a piece of wood. The fire was the work of sulphur, the smoke was mercury, and the residual ash was salt.
Theophrastus Paracelsus. by Fritz (Hg.) Jaeger
Paracelsus also believed that mercury, sulphur, and salt provided a good explanation for the nature of medicine because each of these properties existed in many physical forms. The tria prima also defined the human identity. Sulfur embodied the soul, the emotions and desires ; salt represented the body; mercury epitomised the spirit imagination, moral judgment, and the higher mental faculties.
By understanding the chemical nature of the tria prima , a physician could discover the means of curing disease. With every disease, the symptoms depended on which of the three principals caused the ailment. Paracelsus theorized that materials which are poisonous in large doses may be curative in small doses; he demonstrated this with the examples of magnetism and static electricity, wherein a small magnet can attract much larger metals.
He used the name "zink" for the element zinc in about , based on the sharp pointed appearance of its crystals after smelting "zinke" translating to "pointed" in German. Paracelsus invented chemical therapy, chemical urinalysis, and suggested a biochemical theory of digestion. Paracelsus used chemistry and chemical analogies in his teachings to medical students and to the medical establishment, many of whom found them objectionable.
Paracelsus in the beginning of the sixteenth century had unknowingly observed hydrogen as he noted that in reaction when acids attack metals, gas was a by-product. However neither Paracelsus nor de Mayerne proposed that hydrogen could be a new element.
His hermetical views were that sickness and health in the body relied on the harmony of Man microcosm and Nature macrocosm. He took a different approach from those before him, using this analogy not in the manner of soul-purification but in the manner that humans must have certain balances of minerals in their bodies, and that certain illnesses of the body had chemical remedies that could cure them.
As a result of this hermetical idea of harmony, the universe's macrocosm was represented in every person as a microcosm. An example of this correspondence is the doctrine of signatures used to identify curative powers of plants. If a plant looked like a part of the body, then this signified its ability to cure this given anatomy. Best Selling in Nonfiction See all.
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Problem URL. Describe the connection issue. SearchWorks Catalog Stanford Libraries. Paracelsus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, : essential theoretical writings. Responsibility edited and translated with a commentary and introduction by Andrew Weeks. Uniform Title Works. Parallel German and English text.