Le piante tra natura naturans e natura naturata: immagini di armonia vegetale nella prima età moderna

  • Natacha Fabbri Museo Galileo. Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza


This article aims to deal with an image of vegetal life that belongs neither to a mathematical/mechanistic reading of natural phenomena nor to the Aristotelian model of cosmological order and realms of nature. The first part of the paper examines the Renaissance interpretation of the myth of Pan, which involves an idea of nature and harmony in which the spiritus mundi or the rationes seminales permeate God’s creation. This reading of the universe entails a definition of scala naturae where plants are significant knots into a web of correspondences among celestial, terrestrial, and underground levels, in addition to providing new evidence to blur the distinctions between vegetable and animal realms. The second part of the article analyses the continuity and kinships between plants and animals put forward by Della Porta, Kircher, Duret, and Redi, which rely on metaphors, functional and physiological analogies, anthropomorphic theory, as well as on the debates over the existence of the sensitive soul of plants.