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July 22, 1983

Paracelsus: An Introduction to Philosophical Medicine in the Era of the Renaissance

JAMA. 1983;250(4):532-533. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03340040072038

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Few volumes in the historical aspects of medicine achieve second editions. However, this enlarged republication combines the superb scholarship of the first with an extensive appendix in which account is taken of new materials that have appeared in the last 25 years.

Most physicians are aware of the smothering cloud of authoritarian theories that confronted William Harvey as he struggled to enlighten a skeptical world concerning the blood's circulation. This impediment was nothing compared with the unproved theories stemming from Aristotle and Galen, which held sway throughout the century preceding Harvey.

Paracelsus was the flagship of an unorganized but vigorous flotilla of fresh minds that set out to attack the dogma of the past as it applied to man, his ailments, his place in the universe, and his permitted beliefs. Dr Pagel has done so many potential readers an outstanding service in his delightful study that it is impossible in