Attempting The Summa Zoologica

I have already given you, dear readers, a glimpse into the Picatrix. This grimoire claims to give the scientically-minded a chance to influence their world by petitioning God through rays from different planets.

Very Scientific, indeed.

So, I felt I should share another scientific tome from the era: Albertus Magnus’s ‘Summa Zoologica.’

This is a compendium of everything Albertus Magnus, who would later be acknowledged by the church for his contributions to natural philosophy, knew about the animal world.

Here is what I have learned so far:

  1. It’s a beast of a book. The second volume is over 1,000 pages long.

2. It gets meta. It starts with a chapter about how to divide up the animal kingdom and teach about it.

3. He doesn’t have to say he is religious; he’s already bringing his assumptions in with him. All his reasoning is teleological. Why does a horse have hooves? So he can walk on hooves. Is this circular reasoning particularly helpful? No, but it fits in nicely with a creationist worldview.

4. At least he isn’t a snob. He is quite happy to accord a woodworker a status commensurate with his creative powers.


I pledge to take in his works as the hard labor and logical process of its time. It is easy to point and laugh at the past, but we stand on the shoulders of giants. These compendiums are where the scientific revolution started, and we get nowhere by dismissing them.

I will try to finish it in a reasonable amount of time. Even if it is 1,000 pages long.



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Vivian Yongewa

Vivian Yongewa


Writes for content farms and fun. Has an AU historical mystery series on Kindle.