Project Description

Natural Philosophy

Natural philosophy, or the philosophical study of nature, fueled the study of the physical universe leading up to the birth of the modern scientist.  Philosopher, magician, intellectual, and practitioner seeped together under  this paradigm of knowledge-making. These subprojects consider what it  meant to philosophize about nature across the early modern globe.

From Bestiaries to Natural Histories

Manuscript nature studies push the boundaries of natural philosophy. The lavishly illustrated Villaverde manuscript presented to Don Juan of Austria (1547-1578), illegitimate son of Emperor Charles V (1500-1558) straddles natural history and philosophy. It offers one side of an internal conversation at the Spanish court about nature and how it should be collected and displayed. Tacitly connecting books about animals and places where Spanish royals created a selected version of nature: “There is nothing more appropriate for the recreation of the king than a garden,” Villaverde suggested, cultivating a connection between Eden and Iberia.