Justinus Kerner's Reflections on Science. Justinus Kerner (1786–1862) was a physician as well as a poet. In his research, as well as his profession, he tried to reconcile empirical observation with dreams, mesmerism, and the unconscious. Like the romantic naturalists of his time, Kerner rejected the exclusive preoccupation with rational science as a restriction to epistemology, which he wanted to complement by considering the “nocturnal sides of nature” (“Nachtseiten der Natur”) as well. This article wants to show how Kerner reflected on science, medicine, and nature, and how it became possible for a physician who became famous for the discovery of food poisoning by botulism to be ridiculed at the same time, or at least to be frowned upon, for writing about seeing ghosts and having visions. How could he combine empiric case studies and exact, detailed observation with his belief in the supernatural? And how could he, not only harmonize these apparently contradictory concepts in his writings, but also turn them into paradigms that are based on one another? To answer these questions, this article will refer to Kerner's works on “sausage poisonings” (1817–1842) in the early nineteenth century, as well as his case study of The Seeress of Prevorst (Die Seherin von Prevorst, 1829), in which he described the case of a female patient who was supposed to be a clairvoyant, and finally his literary writings, like The Homeless (“Die Heimatlosen”, 1816) and his autobiographic work Sketches from My Boyhood (Das Bilderbuch aus meiner Knabenzeit, 1849). His personal observations and experiences were the reason that Kerner did not simply deny positivist medicine, but expanded his concept of healing by adding dreams, mesmerism, and visions. For, in the end, the unconscious, as well as the “sausage poison”, evades determination by scientific empiricism alone.
Berichte Zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.
Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.
All for just $49/month
Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly
Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.
All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.
“Whoa! It’s like Spotify but for academic articles.”@Phil_Robichaud