Sources: 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

21, 1575.

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.