Lead


Lay summary
This project seeks to explore the connection of popular traditions of knowledge and science in the period of transition in natural history marked by the the work of two Zuerich-based physicians and scientists who published the first comprehensie natural histories of Switzerland in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. It does so by concentrating on the treatment of balneology by the two authors (subproject A) and by investigating the role and categorization of animals in the works in question. In both cases, the narratives and classifications offered by Wagner and Scheuchzer display connections with specific traditions of popular knowledge but also give evidence of an attempt to view some of these traditions critically. There is a clear shift between the two authors regarding the latter aspect, which will be investigated in depth, also in respect of the fact that both natural histories were compilations, which were enriched by information coming from large groups of "virtuosi" and lay enthusiasts. The project is intended as a major contribution to research on an aspect in the development of early modern natural history, which historians of science have only recently begun to explore in more detail.