Magic, science and morality in renaissance humanist medicine and psychiatry

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Marta Licata
Ilaria Gorini
Valeria Schiavone
Rosagemma Ciliberti



This work has the main purpose to show Neoplatonist and magical-hermetic influences on the non-linear and complex pathway leading the nascent scientific psychiatry’s philosophy and practice towards its more mature developments, throughout an excursus from Cardano et Fracastoro, passing by the breaking point represented by Paracelsus, to Van Helmont, Weyer and Vives. The emphasis is on the fruitful and not-contradictory link between magical and empirical world’s vision and the beginning of some innovative good practices, during the Renaissance era, for a modern and ethical conception of Psychiatry. That’s why, we will see how Renaissance scientific development, often inspired by Neoplatonist and hermetic philosophy, have allowed the development of a modern conception of the mental patients’ conditions and the special care, both pharmacological and moral, that they need.

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