Vegetal Life From Bacon to Milton: Incarnate Science /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:O'Connell, Caryn Maureen, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2017
Description:1 electronic resource (241 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Bradin Cormack; Joshua Scodel Committee members: Richard Strier.
This item is not available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 78-12(E), Section: A.
Summary:This dissertation brings to light a range of seventeenth-century British writers who energetically take up some of the least perceptible natural phenomena in order to establish a fresh conception of what we call the biological. When Thomas Browne, Henry Vaughan, and John Milton set out to represent a hawthorn's growth in space or the distribution of nutrients in a human, they do so in order to challenge long-standing ideas of vegetative life as deficient in nature because lacking in sensation and reason. They do so, moreover, at a moment in which life was conceptually up for grabs, in a century crowded with competing physical and metaphysical systems. What they develop is not another rival system for describing life but, rather, a new means for rendering that radically mundane object appreciable. At the same time, they produce a wholly original impression of the domain of natural science---of who and what can be said to practice science and to possess it; and of where, in the world of natural bodies, knowledge of nature can hail from. At the heart of the rise of objectivity, this dissertation unearths a model of inquiry grounded on an idea of embodied knowledge that, counterintuitively for modern thought, vegetal life exemplifies. Contrary to prevailing accounts of the new science, it further suggests that such inquiry takes shape not in spite of but because of the legacy of Francis Bacon.
The project is in four chapters and draws from an archive of literary, scientific, philosophical, theological, and technical materials. Focusing on Bacon's Sylva Sylvarum, Browne's The Garden of Cyrus, Vaughan's Silex Scintillans and medical translations, and Milton's Paradise Lost, it tracks the intertwining arcs and arts of vegetal life and a Baconian intimate science, showing how the former demands the latter just as the latter makes the former visible as an object.