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Source: Primitive Psycho-therapy And Quackery
JEROME CARDAN, an Italian physician, author, mathematician and
philosopher, was born at Pavia, September 24, 1501. He was the
illegitimate son of Facio Cardan, a man of repute among the learned in
his neighborhood, from whom Jerome received instruction in his youth.
Although idolized by his mother, he incurred his father's dislike, and
these circumstances, we are told, exerted a peculiar influence upon his
character. Despite many difficulties, however, he achieved both fame and
notoriety. After having received degrees in arts and medicine from the
University of Padua, he became Professor of Mathematics at Milan in
1534, and later was admitted to the College of Physicians in that city.
In 1547 he declined an invitation to become court physician at
Copenhagen, on account of the harsh northern climate and the obligation
to change his religion. In the year 1552 Jerome Cardan visited Scotland
at the request of John Hamilton, Archbishop of St. Andrews, whom he
treated for asthma with success. Thence he was summoned to England to
give his professional advice in the case of Edward VI, after which he
returned to Milan with enhanced prestige. He afterwards practised
Medicine at Pavia and Bologna and finally settled at Rome, where he
received a pension from the Pope. His death occurred there, September
Cardan was possessed of great natural ability, and for a time was
regarded as the most eminent physician and astrologer among his
contemporaries. But his mind was of a peculiar cast, and his temper most
inconstant. He had, says Peter Bayle, in his "Historical Dictionary," a
decided love of paradox, and of the marvellous, an infantine credulity,
a superstition scarce conceivable, an insupportable vanity, and a
boasting that knew no limits. His works, though full of puerilities and
contradictions, of absurd tales and charlatanry of every description,
nevertheless offer proofs of a bold, inventive genius, which seeks for
new paths of science, and succeeds in finding them. According to his own
statement, he found pleasure in roaming about the streets all night
long. His love of gaming amounted to a mania. Baron von Leibnitz
(1646-1716) wrote of Cardan, that notwithstanding his faults, he was a
great man, and without his defects, would have been incomparable. He
wrote extensively on philosophy, mathematics, and medicine, and also on
chiromancy. For his own follies and misfortunes he apologized,
attributing them all to the influence of the stars. He has been
described as a genuine philosopher and devotee of science, and his
lasting reputation is chiefly due to his discoveries in algebra, in
which art, wrote the historian, Henry Hallam, he made a great epoch.