Anja-Silvia Goeing1
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  • 1 Harvard University and University of Zurich
Reading Books in Natural Philosophy: How Conrad Gessner‘s Commentary on De Anima (1563) was Annotated and Interpreted
in Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
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Conrad Gessner (1516–65) was town physician and lecturer at the Zwinglian reformed lectorium in Zurich. His approach towards the world and mankind was centred on his preoccupation with the human soul, an object of study that had challenged classical writers such as Aristotle and Galen, and which remained as important in post-Reformation debate. Writing commentaries on Aristotles De Anima (On the Soul) was part of early-modern natural philosophy education at university and formed the preparatory step for studying medicine. This article uses the case study of Gessners commentary on De Anima (1563) to explore how Gessners readers prioritised De Animas information. Gessners intention was to provide the students of philosophy and medicine with the most current and comprehensive thinking. His readers responses raise questions about evolving discussions in natural philosophy and medicine that concerned the foundations of preventive healthcare on the one hand, and of anatomically specified pathological medicine on the other, and Gessners part in helping these develop.

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