Eating Right in the Renaissance

By Ken Albala | Go to book overview

POSTSCRIPT
The End of a Genre
and Its Legacy

Why did the genre of dietary regimes come to an end in the midseventeenth century? The theories themselves certainly did not disappear overnight, and there were physicians still defending humoral pathology well into the nineteenth century. But the application of humoral medicine to the study of food and the popularity of this particular genre did indeed trail off. It would be too simple to claim that new iatrochemical and iatrophysical theories suddenly replaced the older Galenism. New theories were just as often blended with older ones, particularly because they themselves offered no comprehensive new way to think about food. Ideas may have been shifting, however. Certainly Santorio's efforts to quantify the process of nutrition and later van Helmont's discussion of digestion in purely chemical terms made many of the physiological theories inherited from antiquity obsolete. It is only with hindsight, though, that we can see these ideas as progressive and as part of something we sometimes call the “scientific revolution. ” In the seventeenth century these ideas were but a few of the myriad theories leading in every possible direction.

Whatever one might say about this revolution, it is true that research became increasingly empirically based. That is, a shift in epistemology persuaded scientists that their own senses, often aided with instruments, yielded something far closer to the truth, especially when accompanied by rigorous methodology. The appeal of experience over received wisdom was evident even after the mid-sixteenth century, or our period 3.

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Eating Right in the Renaissance
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • California Studies in Food and Culture *
  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Note on Spelling ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Overview of the Genre 14
  • Chapter 2 - Humors, Digestion, and the Physiology of Nutrition 48
  • Chapter 3 - Qualities, Substance, and Virtues 78
  • Chapter 4 - External Factors 115
  • Chapter 5 - Food and the Individual 163
  • Chapter 6 - Food and Class 184
  • Chapter 7 - Food and Nation 217
  • Chapter 8 - Medicine and Cuisine 241
  • Postscript - The End of a Genre and Its Legacy 284
  • Bibliography 295
  • Index 309
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