Sunday, 8 June 2014


EARLY MODERN MEDICINE: Paracelsus on the art of the physician.

Physician vs. Nature

  • The physician is only the servant of nature, not her master.
  • No disease comes from the physician, nor any cure. He can only aggravate the course of the disease, but he can also improve it.

Book knowledge vs. Experience

  • The patient should be the physician’s book.
  • A man cannot draw the theory of medicine from his head, but from what his eyes see and his fingers touch.
  • The art of medicine cannot be inherited, nor can it be copied from books.
  • It must be digested many time and many times spat out. One must always re-chew it and knead it thoroughly, and one must be alert while learning it not doze like peasants turning over pears in the sun.
  • The longer the book, the shorter the insight to be gained; the longer the prescription, the smaller its effect.

(Source: Paracelsus, Selected Writings, trans. Norbert Guterman)

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