Hiro Hirai

Research Associate, Center for Science and Society, Columbia University

2022 to 2023
NEH Postdoctoral Fellow

Pseudo-Paracelsus: Forgery and Early Modern Science and Medicine

The production of forgeries under the name of Paracelsus (1493/94–1541) was an integral part of the diffusion of the Paracelsian movement in early modern Europe. It contributed much to the emergence of his legendary image as the patron of alchemy and occult philosophy. A strange treatise "On the Nature of Things" (Basel, 1572) was the most successful writing among these forgeries. In my project, I will compare the ideas expounded in this text with those found in an extremely popular series of natural philosophical and magical texts falsely attributed to the medieval scholastic, Albertus Magnus (1200–1280): "On the Wonders of the World," "On the Powers of Plants, Stones and Animals" and "On the Secrets of Women." Through an in-depth comparative study, I will explore their points of contacts, similarities and differences in terms of style, content and readership.