Presentation on theme: "Federico Cesi (1585-1630) The Academy of the Linceans Founded in 1603 by Federico Cesi, it is often called the first modern scientific academy. Federico."— Presentation transcript:
Federico Cesi (1585-1630) The Academy of the Linceans Founded in 1603 by Federico Cesi, it is often called the first modern scientific academy. Federico Cesi (from an ancient and prominent Umbrian family) Francesco Stelluti (from Fabriano) Anastasio de Filiis (another young nobleman from Terni) Johannes van Heeck (a Dutch doctor)
Cesi’s initial goal was to accurately depict, in drawings and paintings, the natural world: plants, animals, minerals, even fossils. He soon realized that the old authorities were imperfect—the new specimens and accounts flooding in from the New World, Asia, and Africa, as well as locally gathered specimens, revealed the incompleteness of the authoritative texts.
As it became clear that observation and investigation must supplement or even replace the reliance on authority, Cesi soon faced an even more disturbing realization: the plethora of more and more detailed images did not help in classifying and systematizing the natural world.
Cesi became more and more preoccupied with the problem of classification. His views, as well as his skepticism of authority, were reinforced by his interactions with the sixth member of the Academy, Galileo Galilei.
Cesi and his colleagues tried to turn to inner similarities, particularly in reproductive systems. These drawings of fern leaves are among first examples of the use of the newly invented microscope.
Firmly in the grip of his commitment to both meticulous observation and rational classification, Cesi often focused on anomalies, monstrosities, and grotesqueries, in order to define and illuminate the boundaries between forms. This deformed lemon, and the even more anthropomorphic one on the next slide, are typical.
The field of phytognomy, and the more generalized doctrine of “signatures”, held that the outer form was the clue to the function. Giovanni della Porta, the fifth member of the Academy and the leading naturalist of his time, was a firm proponent of this view. The plants drawn on the left were all considered to be effective treatments for heart ailments.
These plants, along with many others with even more explicitly drawn phallic shapes, were prescribed for sexual dysfunctions.
In a few cases, the Linceans drew, and seemingly accepted as real, animals that could only be hoaxes, whether deliberate or unintentional.
Cesi and the Linceans were caught between two conflicting paradigms, according to Michel Foucault (in The Order of Things): Resemblance and similitude as the basis for relationships among natural objects dominated 16 th and early 17 th century thought. Difference and identity, after Descarte and Galileo, became similarly dominant from the 17 th century onward.
“As [Chesi] became more aware, via the new technologies, of the schematic bases of both appearance and representation, he began to realize that what lynxes saw with their keen eyes was not always to be trusted.” “But the more he turned to abstraction, number and geometry, the less he seemed capable of renouncing the helpmeet of illustration.” David Freedberg, The Eye of the Lynx”, U. of Chicago Press, 2002.