Particles of the Soul.The Medical and Lutheran Context of Daniel Sennert's Atomism.

Michael Stolberg


Daniel Sennert was a well-known and influential representative of early 17th-century atomism.He used Aristolelian hylomorphic terminology to put forward medical new ideas on the relationship between matter and soul.His belief in a mere multiplication of preexistent forms/souls since the Creation and in a coexistence of dominant and subordinate forms in natural things led him to the notion of atoms of the soul which via seman could transfer the human soul form one generation to the next.Focussing on the professional and cultural context of Sennert's theory rather than on its retrospective importance in the history of chemistry,this paper argues that it was a largely medical framework from which Sennert developed these ideas,and it stresses Sennert's strong Lutheran allegiances as a major driving force,especially behind his atomist traducianism,i.e. his claim that the human soul was propagated per traducem in tiny particles of matter rather than merely being infused days or weeks after conception,as Catholics and Calvinists alike asserted.

Key Words:Atomism - Theology - Traducianism

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