A Cultural History of Medical Vitalism in Enlightenment Montpellier
One of the key themes of the Enlightenment was the search for universal laws and truths that would help illuminate the workings of the universe. It is in such attitudes that we trace the origins of modern science and medicine. However, not all eighteenth century scientists and physicians believed that such universal laws could be found, particularly in relation to the differences between living and inanimate matter. From the 1740s physicians working in the University of Medicine of Montpellier began to contest Descartes's dualist concept of the body-machine that was being championed by leading Parisian medical 'mechanists'. In place of the body-machine perspective that sought laws universally valid for all phenomena, the vitalists postulated a distinction being living and other matter, offering a holistic understanding of the physical-moral relation in place of mind-body dualism. Their medicine was not based on mathematics and the unity of the sciences, but on observation of the individual patient and the harmonious activities of the 'body-economy'. Vitalists believed that Illness was a result of disharmony in this 'body-economy' which could only be remedied on an individual level depending on the patient's own 'natural' limitations. The limitations were established by a myriad of factors such as sex, class, age, temperament, region, and race, which negated the use of a single universal treatment for a particular ailment. Ultimately Montpelier medicine was eclipsed by that of Paris, a development linked to the dynamics of the Enlightenment as a movement bent on cultural centralisation, acquiring a reputation as a kind of anti-science of the exotic and the mad. Given the long-standing Paris-centrism of French cultural history, Montpellier vitalism has never been accorded the attention it deserves by historians. This study repairs that neglect.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
The clinic thwarted
Bordeu at court
From the Practical to
Barthez and the Science of Man
Vitalism in the Late Enlightenment
Montpellier and the Société royale
The End of the Enlightenment and
Montpelliérains and Paris medical journalism
Vitalism in the salon
Vitalism and the Encyclopedist Movement
Other editions - View all
Académie des sciences AFMM anatomy Ancien Régime animal appointment argued Barthez Béarn Bordeu Cambridge University Press chancellor chemistry Chicoyneau Colin Jones constituted court cultural d'Holbach Descartes Diderot disease doctrine eighteenth century Encyclopédie Encyclopedists Enlightenment established France François French functions Haguenot Haller Hippocrates Histoire hospital Hôtel-Dieu Ibid Imbert influence inoculation institutions Jardin Jean Jean Astruc Journal de médecine l'homme Lamure Languedoc Lordat maladies mechanist Médecine de Montpellier médicale medicine Mémoires Ménuret Mesmer Montpellier faculty Montpellier physicians Montpellier vitalism Montpellier vitalists Montpellier's Montpelliérains nature nonetheless nosology Nouveaux élémens observations organs Paris faculty patients Paul-Joseph Barthez phenomena Philippe Pinel philosophical physical physiology Pierre position practice professors published Recherches Robert Darnton role royale de médecine royale des sciences Saint-Eloi Sauvages's Sénac sensibility siècle smallpox Société royale society soul Stahl surgeons teaching Théophile de Bordeu Tissot Trévoux University of Medicine Venel vital principle vitalist discourse vitalist physicians vols Paris women