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Romantic medicine in Germany as the philosophical explication for understanding the world and man - Mesmer and mesmerism

L Miodonski

The turn of the 19th century was a rare period in history in which modernisation processes in human knowledge had brought about the rise of new scientific disciplines. They in turn considerably modified the traditional understanding of the world based on a metaphysical-esoteric mode. A multi-dimensional space was opened in research on nature, geography, history and culture as well as in the understanding of man and his spiritual structure. That period marked an important turning point in European thinking also because it expressed a kind of interparadigmatic state, wherein the theories of the old order were no longer applicable to swiftly changing reality. On the other hand, the symptoms of the new order displayed all the shortcomings of still underdeveloped, largely spontaneous attempts at understanding the world on the basis of new theoretical premises. At that time, German medicine, constantly in the process of seeking its theoretical and practical identity, became closely associated with the conceptual context and thinking structure of German idealism. That was an intellectual opposition against the rational and mechanistic model of the world which at the same time affirmed the philosophy of the absolute. In medical theory, it led to the emergence of new pursuits - studies on animal magnetism. Amid all the aberration of German romantic medicine (the ideologisation of and subordination to philosophical principles), its great achievement remains the discovery and attempt to describe areas of man's unconscious existence.

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