The Mechanization of the Heart:: Harvey & Descartes

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In Mechanization of the Heart: Harvey and Descartes Thomas Fuchs begins by comparing the views of William Harvey (1578-1657) and Rene Descartes (1596-1650) on the heart and the circulation of the blood through the body. These two seventeenth-century scholars -- one a British medical doctor, the other a French philosopher and mathemetician -- differed substantially in their beliefs: they both accepted the idea of circulation of the blood, but differed on the action of the heart. Fuchs traces the ways the opposing views were received, revised, rejected, or renewed in succeeding generations by medical writers in various parts of Europe. He then examines Harvey's approach to cardiac and circulatory physiology, mainly through an examination of Harvey's book De motu cordis: he follows with a discussion of the background in Aristotelian philosophy that was the requirement for all studies in medicine and how that affected Harvey's beliefs. Fuchs then turns to Descartes's presentation of Harvey's views and shows how his view, rather than Harvey's, was accepted in Europe at that time. Marjorie Grene brings to the translation her distinguished background in philosophy and her keen insights into medical philosophy. Thomas Fuchs teaches psychiatry at the Rupert-Karls-Universitat, Heidelberg. Marjorie Grene is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of California at Davis, and Adjunct Professor and Honorary Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Virginia Tech University.
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Editorial Reviews

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Fuchs has written an excellent study on Harvey and Descartes in the tradition of the history of ideas, combining it with some methodological suggestions from Ludwig Fleck's notions of "thought-styles." CANADIAN BULLETIN OF MEDICAL HISTORY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580460774
  • Publisher: Boydell & Brewer, Limited
  • Publication date: 11/25/2001
  • Series: Rochester Studies in Medical History, #1
  • Pages: 274
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.36 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Table of Contents

Translator's Foreword
Author's Foreword
A Harvey and Descartes 1
I Theme and Background of the Investigation 1
II Summary of the Argument 10
B The Galenic Paradigm and Its Crisis 19
I Fernel's Summa of Galenism 21
II The Crisis of Galenism 27
C The Vital Aspect of the Circulation: William Harvey 33
I The Science of the Living 35
II De Motu Cordis: The Motion of Heart and Blood 43
III De Motu Locali Animalium: The Movement of Living Things 62
IV De Generatione: The Principles of the Circulation 75
D The Mechanical Aspect of the Circulation: Descartes and His Followers 115
I Circulation and Physiology in Descartes 115
II The Motion of Heart and Blood After Descartes 141
E Vitalism and Mechanism between 1700 and 1850 197
F A Look Ahead 225
Bibliography 233
Index of Names 243
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