Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2012

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Foreign Languages and Literature

First Advisor

Mark Clark

Advisor Department



In Thomas Kuhn’s construct of scientific revolution, Bacci’s scientific discoveries would be considered well within the boundaries of Aristotle’s “paradigm.” However, the extent to which Bacci incorporates contemporary interpretations as well as information from his own observations suggests that, while Aristotle remained dominant as a scientific authority, new interpretations somewhat changed the spirit of his original works to better serve the needs of contemporary science. It should be noted, for instance, that Aristotle’s use of the term “method” did not assign the term the specific significance that it was later given. Some interpretations of Galen’s Ars Parvaassert that scientific method can be simplified to two forms of Aristotelian demonstration, but these interpretations are highly debatable without any clear methodology presented by Aristotle himself. In spite of this lack of clarity, varied attempts to properly interpret and utilize Aristotelian science in the Renaissance means that Aristotle appeared in various forms and to various degrees in Renaissance medicine. Aristotle provided tools that scientists could use in different ways to serve the ultimate purpose of scientific discovery. Thus, identifying and separating all the scientific influences at work in a single document such as this one is arguably impossible; however, finding evidence of Aristotelian ideas is a worthwhile endeavor, if only to provide insight into the prevalence of Aristotelian philosophy in late sixteenth century medicine. Understanding how Andrea Bacci utilized Aristotelian science to explain the efficacy of poisons and pharmaceuticals will further expand the general understanding of how Aristotelian science was understood by Renaissance scientists. Thus, a more viable concern than the extent of Aristotelian influence in Bacci’s work is whether the influence is strong enough (or deliberate enough) to specifically apply Aristotle’s principles of motion, traced to a foundation in Aristotelian causation, and ultimately to a fundamentally Aristotelian approach to scientific inquiry. Specific emphasis will be placed upon poison’s method of operation as a destructive force. At the very least, it will be shown that Andrea Bacci demonstrates the lingering influence of Aristotle in medical science that complemented a need for the theoretical basis of observational evidence, in which Bacci often consulted his predecessors for guidance.

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