What Burton’s ‘Anatomy of Melancholy’ tells us about modern day mood disorders

Coming to us through the great illustrative tradition, as well as medical and literary works, Melancholy is a perennially alluring idea. The post What Burton’s ‘Anatomy of Melancholy’
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Coming to us through the great illustrative tradition, as well as medical and literary works, Melancholy is a perennially alluring idea. Still, the thought that a seventeenth-century work on melancholy by neither a doctor nor a philosopher could illuminate twenty-first-century concerns about mood disorders–my contention about Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy–may seem a bit far-fetched. Whatever its genre (and Burton’s 1621 book has been seen as a literary work, an encyclopedia, a satire, a political tract, a health manual and much besides), and despite Burton’s identification with the pre-Socratic philosopher Democritus who sought the seat of melancholy by dissecting animals, shown below by Rosa in 1650, we don’t usually assign The Anatomy of Melancholy a place alongside the great Early Modern philosophical treatises. Notably extra-philosophical, and undoubtedly less incisively systematic or original than that by such as Hobbes, Locke, Descartes, or Spinoza, Burton’s writing is. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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