Antonio Vallisneri’s self-deprecating portrayal of himself as a serious and austere wandering doctor belies the charm of this narrative of a mountain journey. Vallisneri’s account is at once literary, scientific, and humane.
In this publication,
Vallisneri’s First Report of a Mountain Journey is of prime interest for the interdisciplinary development of methodologies in
Geography and travel provided ancient models for the development of
One of the most frequent types of publications in the Earth sciences in the eighteenth century was the chemical analysis of spring water. Such analyses, performed on the spot or in laboratories, provide a clear case of the application of experimental methodologies to questions in the Earth sciences, and unsurprisingly are frequently invoked by Vallisneri. No two hot springs were the same; thus, laboratory experiments could be linked with observations that were specific to particular places in the
The practice of medicine also provided models for conjoining the general and the specific, including research laboratories with new techniques utilizing microscopes and other instruments, anatomical theaters designed to make hidden structures visible to gathered witnesses, or therapeutic trials featuring comparisons of various outcomes under specific conditions. Numerous publications in the seventeenth and eigheenth centuries likened
Vallisneri repeatedly affirmed the legitimacy of beginning with particular considerations in order to develop theories of general significance. Speaking of the relevance of his mountain journey for the meteoric theory of the water cycle, he wrote: “from a small journey, and from trivial observations, I shall ponder such immense issues.” He conjoined evidence from sources as varied as his filtering experiments and the disposition and temporal behavior of specific springs and wells to construct a coordinated argument that “the mentioned wells receive their waters from the land, and not from the sea.” Yet the particular character of the argument raised the need for collective investigation and community witness. The examination of other particular places would be necessary to confirm a general theory. Collective investigation would be spurred by forthright sharing of information and friendly debate among members of the
Table of Contents
PART I Introduction
PART II Primi Itineris per Montes Specimen Physico-Medicum: Transcription
PART III Primi Itineris per Montes Specimen Physico-Medicum: Translation
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