Oana Lidia MATEI

Academic Year:

Field of Study:
Philosophy of Science

Research Program:
NEC Odobleja

Faculty of Humanistic, Political and Administrative Sciences, Vasile Goldiș Western University of Arad



Research project: Manipulating Flora: Vegetable Philosophy and the Emergence of a New Science of Life in the Seventeenth Century

This project argues that, in the seventeenth century, a new Scientia of natural bodies emerged: vegetable philosophy. This “new science”, so far invisible to early modern historians, is concerned with bodies endowed with sensitive life: plants, metals, minerals. This new kind of Scientia offers a new “taxonomy” of the natural world and new techniques and methodologies for the interpretation of nature. This novel discipline attracted practitioners of alchemy, natural magic and various other “arts” and trades, as well as natural philosophers. This project will explore how this “new science of vegetable philosophy” extended the domain and application of traditional books of natural history, natural magic and philosophy by re-writing a wide range of recipes and experiments coming from both ancients (pseudo-Aristotle’s De plantis and Pliny’s Historia Naturalis) and moderns (Della Porta, Cardano) and thus contributing to the rise of specific strands of natural and experimental philosophy in the seventeenth century.

A full-length study is available here.