Helmholtz: From Enlightenment to Neuroscience

Helmholtz: From Enlightenment to Neuroscience

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Overview

The first biography in English of a nineteenth-century German scientist whose experimental approach influences today's neuroscience.

Although Hermann von Helmholtz was one of most remarkable figures of nineteenth-century science, he is little known outside his native Germany. Helmholtz (1821–1894) made significant contributions to the study of vision and perception and was also influential in the painting, music, and literature of the time; one of his major works analyzed tone in music. This book, the first in English to describe Helmholtz's life and work in detail, describes his scientific studies, analyzes them in the context of the science and philosophy of the period—in particular the German Naturphilosophie —and gauges his influence on today's neuroscience.

Helmholtz, trained by Johannes Müller, one of the best physiologists of his time, used a resolutely materialistic and empirical scientific method in his research. His work, eclipsed at the beginning of the twentieth century by new ideas in neurophysiology, has recently been rediscovered. We can now recognize in Helmholtz's methods—which were based on his belief in the interconnectedness of physiology and psychology—the origins of neuroscience.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262518192
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 09/14/2012
Series: The MIT Press
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 443,653
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 5.70(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Michel Meulders is Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience and Honorary Prorector of the Catholic University of Louvain, where he also was Dean of the Medical School from 1974 to 1979.

Laurence Garey, a neuroscientist and anatomist, is the translator of Michel Jouvet's The Paradox of Sleep (2001) and The Castle of Dreams (2008), both published by the MIT Press.

What People are Saying About This

Charles Gross

Hermann von Helmholtz was a towering figure in nineteenth-century physiology, psychology, physics, and philosophy, and the founder of the modern study of vision and audition. Michel Meulders' superb scientific biography situates Helmholtz in the science and philosophy of his time and demonstrates why he is still a living force today.

Endorsement

This fascinating book exquisitely recreates the long forgotten history of Helmholtz's prodigious insights and methodologies that now constitute basic core components in modern neuroscience. Going beyond the physics, engineering, and natural sciences of the time, Helmholtz's strict mathematical reductionism served as the intellectual backdrop for much of his biological insights into nerve conduction, muscle contraction, vision, hearing, and even music. This is a wonderful book offering rare insights into the history of our field.

Rodolfo R. Llinás, Professor and Chairman, Department of Physiology and Neuroscience, New York University Medical School

From the Publisher

Hermann von Helmholtz was a towering figure in nineteenth-century physiology, psychology, physics, and philosophy, and the founder of the modern study of vision and audition. Michel Meulders' superb scientific biography situates Helmholtz in the science and philosophy of his time and demonstrates why he is still a living force today.

Charles Gross , Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Princeton University

This fascinating book exquisitely recreates the long forgotten history of Helmholtz's prodigious insights and methodologies that now constitute basic core components in modern neuroscience. Going beyond the physics, engineering, and natural sciences of the time, Helmholtz's strict mathematical reductionism served as the intellectual backdrop for much of his biological insights into nerve conduction, muscle contraction, vision, hearing, and even music. This is a wonderful book offering rare insights into the history of our field.

Rodolfo R. Llinás , Professor and Chairman, Department of Physiology and Neuroscience, New York University Medical School

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