Robert FluddOctober 26, 2015
Robert Fludd (1574-1637) Robert Fludd is the author of more than twenty philosophical, medical and scientific works, but the first three books he published were apologies for the Rosicrucian movement. After years of travel on the continent between 1598-1604 he returned to England to take up the study of medicine. It took a long time before he was accepted by his more orthodox colleagues because of his contempt of the doctrines of Galen and his allegiance to Paracelsian principles. A hardworking physican, he created a flourishing practice in London. There are several theories as to how Fludd was introduced to Rosicrucian thought. Prague, which had grown into a prominent centre of alchemy, magic and astrology during the reign of Rudolf II (1552-1612), is thought to be the most likely place where he might have come into contact with people from the philosophical and political circles which also formed the basis for the Rosicrucian movement. It has been suggested that Michael Maier introduced Fludd to Rosicrucianism; more recently the theory has been advanced that it was the other way round, but it is uncertain whether the two ever actually met.
Man’s Spiritual Brain: a Meeting of Minds How does God communicate with man and how does man communicate with God? This engraving attempts to make it all clear. We see that man is connected with the divine world via the faculties he is endowed with: Reason (ratio), Intellect and Mind (mens). This engraving also shows that there is a reciprocity at work, as man is also able to communicate with God himself. Man is influenced by the divine world above him. The three departments of the empyrean or mundane heaven are situated right above his head. There is a ‘communication channel’ through which the intellectual world of God and the angelic hierarchy finds its entry to the soul: here a combination of reason, intellect and mind. The soul is also informed by the sensible world (left: mundus sensibilis – the starting point of another communication channel to the brain). The sensible world is turned into an intangible form in the first ventricle and then made transcedendent in the next ventricle by means of the power of judgement and insight. The four elements of which the sensible world consists (earth, water, fire, subtle air and gross air) correspond to the five senses, as the dotted lines show. Earth refers to touch (the hand); water to taste (the mouth); fire to sight (the eyes); gross air to smell (the nose); subtle air to hearing (the ear).
The imaginal world (mundus imaginabilis) enters directly into the two lateral ventricles. In the rear of the head is the seat of the memory and motion.
Fludd dereived a great deal of information on the physical brain from Vesalius’ epochmaking work on anatomy published in 1543, De humani corporis fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body), combining it with his own and more traditional views; Albertus Magnus (c. 1200-1280), for instance, already referred to the three ventricles in the human brain which functioned as the abode of the soul.
LEARN MORE ABOUT ROBERT FLUDD AT THE SYMPOSIUM ‘GREATNESS OF THE SPIRIT’ ON 7 NOVEMBER 2015: www.filosofie.nl/ritman