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Homunculus - Wikipedia
To mimic the Creator and create life ex nihilo — almost from nothing — has been the ambition of some men, none more so than Philip Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim - , a 16th-century doctor and alchemist, better known as Paracelsus, whose ego almost surpassed his desire to create life, as he deemed himself the equal match of his Creator. The Louvre copy of the lost portrait by Quentin Matsys, source of the iconographic tradition of "fat" Paracelsus Public Domain. After this time, it will look somewhat like a man, but transparent, without a body. If, after this, it be fed wisely with the Arcanum of human blood, and be nourished for up to 40 weeks, and be kept in the even heat of the horse's womb, a living human child grows therefrom, with all its members like another child, which is born of a woman, but much smaller. However, this would not have deterred Paracelsus who attributed an intellectual and cultural superiority to himself, far beyond his namesake, that of the great doctor and naturalist, Aulus Cornelius Celsus, 25 BC — 50AD , author of De Medicina, a first-century medical treatise. But who was Paracelsus? Paracelsus dabbled in alchemy and astrology, but he graduated in medicine from the University of Ferrara.
The homunculus is commonly used today in scientific disciplines, such as psychology, as a teaching or memory tool to describe the distorted scale model of a human drawn or sculpted to reflect the relative space human body parts occupy on the somatosensory cortex sensory homunculus and the motor cortex motor homunculus. Both the motor and sensory homonculus usually appear as a small man superimposed over the top of the precentral or postcentral gyrus, for motor and sensory , respectively. The homunculus is oriented with feet medial and shoulders lateral on top of both the precentral and the postcentral gyrus for both motor and sensory. The man's head is depicted upside down in relation to the rest of the body such that the forehead is closest to the shoulders. The lips, hands, feet and sex organs have more sensory neurons than other parts of the body , so the homunculus has correspondingly large lips, hands, feet , and genitals.
Popularized in sixteenth-century alchemy and nineteenth-century fiction, it has historically referred to the creation of a miniature, fully formed human. The concept has roots in preformationism as well as earlier folklore and alchemic traditions. The term is also used for an image of a person with the size of the body parts distorted to represent how much area of the cerebral cortex of the brain is devoted to it. For example, the legs are small but the mouth and hands are large. The homunculus first appears by name in alchemical writings attributed to Paracelsus —