Jil Muller on Melancholy and Fever in the Early Modern Period

Which role did the mesentery play in Montaigne's and Descartes' understanding of melancholy and fever?

On February 8th, 2023, Dr. Jil Muller gave an online lecture on Melancholy and Fever in the Early Modern Period,  in the online programme organised by the cooperation partner of the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists, the Center for the Study of Medicine and the Body in the Renaissance in Pisa.

In this lecture, she spoke about the medical and philosophical texts from the early modern period, in which one can notice a huge interest in melancholy, the ‘fashionable’ evil of that time, confining great minds to sadness and depression. Her focus was on Montaigne and Descartes, and the role they attributed to the mesentery in melancholy. For Descartes, Jil Muller more precisely referred to Elisabeth of Bohemia’s understanding of melancholy and her weak body, since it is above all she who tells Descartes about her suffering and thus offers the philosopher the opportunity to reflect on the connections between body and mind in melancholy and in fever.

If you want to learn more about Elisabeth’s melancholy, you can listen to the online lecture here.



If you are interested in Renaissance medicine and the understanding of Heat, Colour and Sound, you can have a look at the Summer School Program of the CSMBR. The Summer School takes place from 11th to 14th July 2023: https://csmbr.fondazionecomel.org/events/the-intensity-of-nature/




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