Paracelsus: Concerning the Nature of Things

(1537)

Context

The popular stereotype of the Middle Ages is that it was a period of benighted superstition. But while the Scholastic philosophers (professors of philosophy and theology at the first universities) of that era saw the supernatural and natural realms married in the control of the natural world exercised by God and his angels, they were generally skeptical of the possibility of mere human beings practicing magic or witchcraft. It did not seem a rational part of nature. The humanism of the Renaissance period, however, regarded the ideas passed down from classical antiquity in a new, exalted way, and Scholastic skepticism gave way to a different attitude: The ancient Greeks and Romans had believed in magic, and so, the humanists thought, it must be true. The educated classes who made up churchmen, lawyers and judges, physicians, and university professors in the Renaissance era all embraced the reality of magic. One result of this credence unfolded in the so-called witch...

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Samuel Hahnemann, creator of homeopathy (Library of Congress)

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