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A Vi ta l R a ti o n a l i st

Se l e cte d Wr i ti n g s f rom

Ge o r g .t yn g u i l h e m

Edit cd b, v Fr ango is l) e lapo r t e

Tr anslat cd bv Ar t hur G oldham nr er

l vit h an int r oduct icr n bv Paul R. r binor v and

a c r it ical bib li ogr aphv bv Cam ille Lim oge s

ZON E BOOKS N E\v YOR K

1994
(t
, i\I Contents
O 1 9 9 4L I r T o n e ,In c.
Z O N EB O O K S
6 r r B r o a d r v r y ,S u itc 6 0 8
N e * Y o r k , N Y to o tz rr
,^t \ ['
A l l r i g h t s r c s c rve d .

N o p a r t o l t h i s b o o k m a y b e r e p r o d u ce d , sto r e d in a
r e t r i c v a l s y s t e m ,o r tr a n sm itte d in a n y lb r m o r b y a ny
m e r n s , i n c l u d in g e lcctr o n ic, m e ch a n ica l,p h o to co pl -
i n g , m i c r o l i l m in g , r cco r d in g , o r o th e r u ' ise ( e xce p t
f o r t h a t c o p y i ng p e r m ittcd b y Se ctio n s r o 7 a n d r o 8 of
Editor's Notc b.vFranqoisDelaporte e
t h e U . S . C o p y r ig h t L a t| a n d e xce p t b y r e vie we r slo r
t h e p u b l i c p r e ss) with o u t wr itte n p e r m issio n fio m
lnt r oduct ion: A Vit al Rat ionalist
the Publisher. by PaulRabinow 1r

S o u r c e sf o r t h e cxce r p ts a r e liste d o n p p . 4 8 0 - 8 1 .
P,qnr ONr M Er oDor ocY
P r i n t e d i n t h e U n ite d Sta te so fAm e r ica .
I lhe Hr st or r ol 5cr ( n( e 25
D i s t r i b u t e d b y l h e M l l- Pr e ss,
II The VariousModels ar
C a m b r i d g c , M assa ch u se tts,
a n d L o n d o n . En g la n d
III The Historl of the Histor,vof Science
L i b r a r y o f C o n g r e ssCa ta lo g in g - in - Pu b lica tio nDa ta

C a n g u i l h e m . Ge o r g e s,r e o a - PARrT\\'() Epr s:l, t t o I o<; v


A v i t a l r a t io n a list: se le cte dr vr itin g s lio m Ge o r ges
C a n g u i l h e m . r ed ite d b v F r a n q o isDe la p o n e ; tr a n sla ted IV Epistemologyof Biologv oz
b v A r t h u r C o l dh a m r n e r with a n in tr o d u ctio n b r : Pa ul Epistemologvof Phvsiologv
R a b i n o s a n d r cr itica l b ib lio g r a p h vb y Cim illc L im o gcs. A BoroguePhvsiolog.t' er
p cm. An ErperimentalSciencc 7o3
I n c l u d e s b i b lio g r a p h ica lr e fe r e n ce s. 'fhe
Molor ProblentsoJ Nincteenth-Centur.r'
r s B No - 9 4 )?9 9 - 7 2 - 8
Ph.vsiolog.t' tts
r . S c i e n c e - l Iisto r v. z. Scie n ce - Ph ilo so p h y.
t . D e l a p o r t e , f ra n q o is, r 9 .1 r lr . T itlc. VI Ilpistemologvol N{cclicine
Qr) t.cl4 The Linits of Healinll ns
'991
9 l- 86rI 7hc Nev,Situationol lletlicinc 13:
A lledical Revolution ras
P aer llr t r er H ts ro n Y

VII C el l fh c o ry re r
V lll T h e C o n ce p t o f R c fl e x 179
lX l j ec ts 2 0 3
B i o J o g i c aOb

P,\RT FouR IN I F RF RET A r r o NS

X Ren6 Descartes zrg


XI AugusteComte 237
X ll C l a u d eBe rn a rc l z o r

P,url Frvr P n o n r r l rs Translotor's Note


Thc texts collected here are translatedfrorn thc French fbr thc
XIII Knorvledgeand the Living from
first tirne, but for trvo exceptions:I haveincluded passages
and LiJe zet
Science ml translationofGcorges Canguilhem'sIdeoloo.v
and Rationality
The ConccptoJ l.iJe zoz (Cambrirlge,N{Ar NllT Press,1988) and from Carolvn Farvcett's
XIV The Norm.rl .rnd the Pathological 321
(Ncu York: Zonc
transfationof The Normo]on<l the Pathological
lnrrodttctionto theProhlcm szr
B ooks, 1989) .
The ldcntitv ol the Two Statcs tzt
I mpI ications antl Counterposi
t ions
XV Normalitv and Normativitv esr

Critical Bibfiographt b.yCanille Linoges 3 A s


N( ) tcs t5 5
Editor's Note

Frangois Dclaporte

The texts collccted in this volumc introduce English-language


readersto an especiallvdifficult and complex dimcnsionofGeorge
Canguilhem'srvork, namcly his philosophv of biology and merli-
cine. Its primary purpose, then, is to chart the main themes of
Canguilhem'sthought, l\hich is distinguishedby minute atten-
tion to developmentsin biology and medicinc over the past fifty
vears.To achievethis end, importance lvasgivcn to questionsof
methodology in the historv of science.This in itself u'as neces-
is not scicntific dis-
sarybecausethe ob.tectof historicalcliscourse
course as such but the historicitv of scientific discourseinsofar
as it representsthe implementation of an epistemologicalproj-
e.ct(prcjetde savoir\.If the historv of science is the history of a
discourscsubiect to the norm ofcritical rectification, thcn it is
clearlv a branch of epistemologv.Canguilhcmrecogniresthat thc
disciplinesrvhosehistorv he rvritcsgive the appearanccof a gen-
esis,that is, a processopposedto the divcrsityof the variousfbrms
of pseudo-sciencc.This, in f)ct, is the sourcc of his interest in
cpi stcmol ogicalbr eaks.St udvingt he hist or v of an act ivit v it self
defined by its ref'erenceto truth asan cpistcmologicalvalueforces
one to focus attention on both thc failurcs and successes
of that
acti vi ty. fa king a m acr oscopicrvic* ol t he hist or v ol science,
Cangr - r ilhem u n d c rto o k to s tu d v th e e m c rgenceofthrcc rl i sci -
plines:biologv. physiologvanrl medicinc. l)epenclingon the sub-
jec t ol s t udr . C a rrg ri l h c m rl i l l s o me ti m e sp l ovi de a hi storl of Introduction: A Vital Rationalist
theorv. s()mctimcsa history ofconcepts antl sometimcsa historv
r r l biologic al o b j e c ts . Bu t th c o b j e c ti v e i s a l vravsthc same; to Prul R,rbinorv
describeho* ideologv and scicnce Jre at once internvincd and
separatc.Furthcr, his studicsof Ren(: I)escartes,AugusteComte
and Claude B e rn a rccl l e a rl v r< te a l rv h y ,a s L t rui sA l thusseronce
put it, Canguilhemis consideredonc ofthe bcst "tcachersofho*.
to rer(l *'orks ol phi)osr4rhr'
.rndscit nce." The readcr.x e assunre,
* ill not be surprisedthat the prcsent rvork cnds * ith a sericsof
general questiolls conccrning the relation ol knowledgc to Jife GeorgesCaDguilhem$'is bor n in Cast eln. r udarin
v sout hr vcst -
and ol the normal to the pathologic.rl.Canguilhem bcgan r. ith ern Fran ceon Junc 4, 1t ) 0, 1.Alt hough his f at her r , vas. r t ailor ,
error aDdon that basisposed the philosophic.rlproblcm ol tr.uth C angui l hem likes t o r ef er t o hir nsr : lf , not r vit hout a cer t ain
and lii! . F or Nl i c h e l F o u c a u l t,th i s a p p ro a c hc()nsri ruted" onc of trvi nkl e in his eve, as bcing of pcasantst ir ck, r oot cd in t hc har -
the crucial eventsin thc historv of modern philosophv." moni ous ,cvclical lif 'eof t he soil and t he seasons,
his scnsibilit ics
I6nrrcd bl the I'tarlr rorintl ol the lruit trecs.The storv ol his sen-
tinrental erlucationis a classicone. High rnarkson nationalcxam-
i nati onss ent him on a iour nev t o Par ist o st udv; once t her er hc
,
lvasa grearsuccess. Aftcr complcting his studiesat the prestigious
lrc6e Henri IV he cntered thc most elitc educationalinstitution
i n France,t he Ecole Nor m ale Super ieut e,in 1924.Anr ong his
promotion,his cohort, rvcrelean-PaulSartrc,R.almondAron and
('nteredthc [:co]ea vcrr larcr.
Paul Nizan; l\{auriceN{erlcau-PoDt\r
Alr.eadyat this tin1c, Canguilhem $as interestc(lin thenrcsthat
hc rroul d r ct ur n r o and de*elop r hr oughouthis int ellcct uallif e:
i n parti cular ,a p. r peron August eCom t e's t hcor r of or der and
progrcss ,u hich Canguilhemst r bm it t edf br a diplom a, displavs
rhc begi n nings( ) l t his per sist cntint er estin t he r elat ion ol r ea-
son and socict \ ' * an int er cst he shar cd wit h his ot her dist in-
gui shtd c lassm at es
but \ i hich Canguilhcnrdevel, r pedin a highlr
originalmanner.The philosopherAlain'sjudgmenroi Canguilhem
in 1924as " liv e l v , re s o l u tca n d c o n te n t" s ti l l capturesthe man' s servedunt il 1955, *'hen he accept edt hc Chair of Hist or v and
spirit almost three-quartersof a century Iatt'r.l P hi l osophyof Sciencesat t he Sor bonneand succeededG ast on
O nc e he b e c a n rea g ri g d i n p h i l o s o p h v i n 1927, the young Bachelardasdirector of the Institut d'histoirc des sciencesct des
Canguilhem beganhis tenching tour crfprovincial lyc6es,as wirt techni ques.I I is r eput at ion as a f er ociousexam iner livt 's on in
requircd ofall Ecole Normalegraduatesin rcpaymentto the stare Paristoday, as docs a deep rvell of affection for thc intellectual
t br t heir c dqc a ti o n , l l i s i n i ti a l p e re g ri n a tionsended i n 1935 i n and institutional support he providcd over the decrdes.a
T oulous e, wh e rc h e ta u g h t a t th e l y c 6 e , r vhi l e begi nni ng hi s
m edic al t r ain i n g . In 1 9 + 0 ,h e rc s i g n e dfro m hi s teachi ngpost, History ond Philosophy of Science
because.as ht' rvrotc thc Rector of the Acad6mie de Tirulouse, Louis Althusser paid Canguilhem a complinrent rvhen he com-
he hadn't becomc an agregdin philosophy in ordet to preachthe parcd him ( as r vell as Cavaillt s, 'Bachelar d,
Julcs Vuillem in and
doc t r ine of t h c Vi c h v re g i m e .2H e to o k a d vantageof hi s new l v ,\'lichel Fouc.rult)to an anthropologist who !oes jnto the field
lbund fiee time to complete his medical studies, prophcticallv, armed lvith "a scrupulousrespectfor the realitv ofrcal science."5
in both a philosophic and political sense,C.rnguilhemreplacerl The compar isonis r e"ealing if not r ; uit e an accur at cdescr ipt ion
.feanCavaillis, the philosopher of mathematics - he had been of Canguilhem'snlethod, More strictlv ethnographicstudies of
callerl to the Sorbonne- at the [.lniversityol Strasbourg,rvhich
l aborato r y lif e, like t hosc of Br uno Lat our , u'ould com e lat er
relocated to Clernront-Ferrand in 1941, when Strasbourgrl,as
and rvould aim not merely at corrccting a positivist and idealist
annex edbl t h e R e i c h . H e p a rti c i p a te d i n r he fi rrmati r_rn
ofan underst andingof scienceas a singJeunif lcd act ivit r achievinga
rmportant resistancegroup to rl hich he made availablehis skills.
cumulative understandingof nature, but also at dismantling the
A ll in all, a life i n th c c c n tu rv , a s th e F re nchsay:l i ke so manl verf idea ofscience - a position as far liom Canguilhcm'sas one
of his compatriots,Canguilhem'slifc vvasshapedby the conjunc-
could imagine. Nonetheless,Althusscr'sstatcment capturesthe
ture of France'senduring institutions and the contingent evenrs
mole, first initiatcd by' Bache]ard,anay from the static univer-
ol his t im e.
sal i sm th at t he Fr ench univer sit y svst emhad enshr ined in it s
In 1943,Cangrrilhemdefendedhis rledical rhesis,,,Essais sur rationalistand idealistapproachcsto science.For Bachclard,phi,
<luelquesprobldmcs concernanr lc normal et le pathologique.,'
losophy'sne\4,role was to analyzethe historical developmentof
The continued timelinessand exceptionaldurabilitl.ofthis u<rrli
trtrth-pr oducingpr acr iccs.The philosophv of science bccam e
is attcsted to by the lact that he updated it t\!,entv years later
the study of regionalepistemologies,the historical reflection on
rlith significant ncrv rc{lcctions, and that ir rvasrranslatedint<r
the elaborati<rnoftheories and conceptsbv practicingscientisrs,
English clecarleslater as lie Normal and the patholog;cal,t After
physicists,chemists,pathologists,anatomistsand so on. Thc aim
thc rvar,he resumedhis posr lt rhe Llniversityof Strasbourg(in
\r'asnot to.rttack sciencc but to shor,tit in action in irs speci-
Strasbourg), hc remained until 1948. After lirst refusing
'r,herc flcity and plrrralitv.
the inlpoltrnt admini51r.11lys port of inipccteur gdneral de phi- Canguilhemis clear an<laclrmantthat evcn though philosopirv
los ophieat t he L i b e ra ti o n , h e fi n a l l y a c c e p tcdi t i n 194g,and
had lost its sovcreigntvand its autonr)my,it still had important

rl
\ 1or k t o ac c o rrl p l i s hL. tn l i l < eth e ta s ko l th c sci cnti st,thc cpi ste- ti ons on scient if ic olr jcct s.Thc obj( ct of hist or icaldiscour seis
mologist'sproblem is t() esrablish"the ordcr of conceptualprog- " thc hist or icit v of scient if ic discour sc,in so m uch ns t hat his-
ressthat is onlv rlitr thc fact and of rvhich thc prcscnt tory effectuatesa projcct guided bv its orvn intcrnal norms but
'isible
notion ofscicntjJic truth is thc provisionalpoint of crrlmination."6 travcrsedby accident s int er r upt ed bv cr iscs, t hat is t o sa1b1
Truths arc fbund in the practiccsofscience; philosophyanalvzes moments ofjudgmcnt and truth."ll These trtrths are alwavscon-
t he plur alit y o f th e s c tru th s , th e i r h i s to ri ci ty,and consequentl y testableand in proccss,as it were, but no less"real" on account
their provisionalitv,u hile aflirming - not legislating,asthe oldcr of thei r cont ingencl. The hist or v of scit 'nceis not nat ur al his-
Frcnch philosophv of sciencesought to clo - their normativit)r. tory: it docs not identify the sciencewith thc scicntist, the sci-
Epistcmology is a rigorous description of the proccssby which enti stswit h t heir biogr aphies,or sciencesr vit h t heir r esult r , nor
t r ut h is elabo ra te d ,n o t a l i s t o f fi n a l re s ul ts.A l thusser' senco- the resultsrvith their currcnt pedagogicaluse. fhe epistemolog-
mium takesfor granted ttrit sciencccxists and holds a privileged ical and historical claims assumeclbv this notion of thc historv
status,but Canguilhem,like FoucaultanclPicrre Bourdieu, never of sciencearc magisterialand run countcr to t'nuchol contem-
doubted this: "To take as onr"s object of inquirv norhing other porarv doro in the social studics o[ 5cien(e. The texts gathcred
than sources,invcntions,inlluenccs,priorities,sintultaneities,and i n thi s v olum e pr or ide t he cvidcnce f or Cr nguilhem 'sposit ion.
successionsis at bottcrm ro fail to distinquish betu'cen sciencc FrangoisDclaportc hasarrangedthem in a conccPttl,11 and peda-
and ot her as p c c tso l c u l tu re ." l T h i s a s s u nrpti on- Latour has gogi c.rlf ashionu- it h such clar it - , t-hat ic t ould bc lr t r ir lessand
c alled it t hc k e v s l mb o l o f F re n c hp h i l o s o phyand hi storv of sci - i nappropr iar et o bur dcn t hem r vit h ext endedcont nr cnt ar v.ln-
t nc e - is t ht ' c o rn e rs t()n (o l th e rv h o l c a rc hi recturcofthe house deed, thev pr ovide a kind of coht - r ent"boo) . , " r lhich, cxccpt
of r c as oninha b j te db r C a n g u i l h e m.iSc i c n c e,l or C angtri l hem,i s l br hi s seconddoct or al disser t at ion, rCanguilhem
l him sell'never
" a dis c our s ev e ri fj t' rli n .r d e l i m i te d s e c to r o f experi encc." eS ci - w rote; he pr eler r ed,af t er 1t ) 4l, t ht ' ess. r rlor m cr am m cd r vit h
ence is an explor.rtiorroftlre norm ofrationality at uork. But just prcci se, alm ost aphor ist ic, sent eDcer ,t 'Danv! r 'it h t he clensit v
as lir m as r he b c l i e l i D s c i c n c ei s rh e b e l i e f i n i ts hi stori ci tv and of krypt onit e.
its pluralitv. There arc only divt'rsescienccsat rvork at particu-
lar historica]moments:phvsicsis not biology; eighteenth-centurv The Normal ond the Pathologicol
natural historv is not trventieth-centur.t- genetics. A l though Canguilhempublishedin t he lat e 1930sa philosophi-
'fhus, fbr Canguilhem,
"thc historv of scicnceis the historv of caf treatise on ethics and epistemologv, froitd de lol1iqueet de
an object - discourse- that l'' a history and las a historv,rvhereas morale,intcndedasan unconventionaltextbook fbr advancedlvc6e
s c ienc cis t he s c i e n c eo Ia n o b .j c c tth a t i s n ota hi storv,that has studcnts, thc *'ork fbr rvhich he is hest Lnotvn starts vvith lris
no historv."lilSciencc,thrcrughits usc ofmethod, divirlcs nature medical thesisivhere he invcstigatcsthc verv tlefinition of thc
int o objec t s . T h e s c o b j e c ts .rre s e c c tn d a rv,
i n a sensc,but not a nr aiorr ever sal
normal and t he pat hological.This nor k signalc<l
derivative;one coul<lsa\ that thel.arc both constructed and dis- i n thi nk ing about hcalt h, Pr cviouslr ,m eclicalt r . r iningin Fr anct :
covcred. The historr <rfscience pcrlbrnrs a similar sct of opera- h.rd privilcged t he nor m al; ( liseaseor m alt unct ion \ 1t s under -

r+ r5
stood as the dcviation from a fixed norm, which rvastaken to be unchang ingvalues. l5Lif e is not st asis,a f ixed sct of nat ur alJau, s,
a constant.Medical practicc rvasclirectedtorvardestablishingsci- set in advanceand the samefbr all, to rvhich onc must adherein
entifically thesc norms and, practice fbllorving theory, torvard order to survive. Rather, life is action, mobility and pathos,the
r et ur ning t he p a ti e n t to h e a l th , re e s ta b l i s hi ngthe norm l rom constantbut only partiallysucccssfirleffort to resistdeath, to use
rvhich the patient had strayed. B i chat' sf am ousdef init ion: "Lif e is t hc collect ion of f inct ions
As FrangoisDagognet,the philosopherof biologr',hascrisplv th.rt resistdeath."
observed,Canguilhemlauncheda f'rontalattack on "that edifice Canguilhem's*-ork hasbeen a consistentand disciplined his-
of normalization"so essentialto thc proceduresof a positivistsci- torical demonstration,a laving-outof the consequences,
of these
ence anrl medicine.1l He did so bv re-posingthe question of the pri nci pl cs. Lil! has it s specif icit v:"Lif e, what evcrf br m it m ay
organismas a Iiving being that is in no prcestablishe(lharmony rake,involvesseltlpreservation by meansof sclf-regulation."l6 This
with its environment.It is suffering,not normativemeasurements specilicitv can - in lict, must- be elaboratcdperpetuallv,but it
and standarddeviations,that establishesthe stateoI disease.Nor- can never be evadcd.C. r nguilhem 'spunct uat e,hist or ical essays
mativitv beginswith the living being, and with that being comes are not a philosophvot lit e, like t hose of HansJonasor M aur ice
diversitv.Each patient rvhom a doctor treats presentsa different i\lerleau-Pontv,rvhich scck to fix an understandingof li[e rvith
caseieachcasedisplavsits or"n particularity.One of Canguilhem's a si ngl e s et of concept s. Rat her , C. r nquilhem 'st ight ly r vr it t en
famousaphorismsdrives this point home: "An anomaly is not an di d.rcti cl b r avsdisplavhor v t ht 'lif e sciences,includinq t he t hcr -
abnor r nalit y .D i v e rs i tv d o e s n o t s i g n i fy s i c k ncss."W i th l i vi ng apeuti ci )ne1,havesir nult aneouslv elabor at edconcept sof lile and
bc inqs ,nor nr al i tyi s a n a c ti v i tv .n o t a s te a < l sv tate,The resul t, i f the waystheseconceptsmust be seenasan integratedpart o[the
one lbllor v sCa n g u i l h e m' sre a s o n i n g ,i s th a t " a nunrbrr, even a phenome nonunder st udv: lif e and it s nor m sl ''l
constantnumber, translatesa stvle, habits,a civjlization, cven the Although he has been carelll ncit to turn these cxplorations
under ly ingv it a l i ty o f l i l ' e ." 1 1T h e re c e n t d i s coven rhat huntan i nto a pan cgvr icof vit alism ,Canguilhemdem onst r at est hc con-
bodv tempcraturehasa much rvider rangeof normalitl than rras stant presenceof evaluativenotions like "prescrvation,""regula-
previouslyassumeddemonstratesthis point. Normalitv - and this tion," "adaptation"and"normality," in both everydavandscientific
is one of Canguilhem'sconstant themes - means the abilitr to approachest o liI e. "lt is lif e it sclf , and not m edical judgm ent ,
adapt to changing circumstances,to variableand varying envi- that makesthe biological normala concept of valueand not a con-
ronments. Illness is a reduction to constants,the yerv norms bv cepr ofsrarisricalreality."lt Humanity'sspecilicitv lies not in the
rvhich we measureourselvesas normal, Normality equalsacti\'- fact that it is separatefrom thc rest of naturc but, rather, in the
ity and flexibility. Hence thcrc is no purely oblective pathology; licr that it hascrcated svstematicknou,ledgeand tools to help it
rather, the basic unit is a living being that exists in shifting rela- cope. This testing, parrying rvith pathologr.,rhis active relation
tions with a changingenvironment.Arguing for a clramaticrever- to the enyironment, this normative mobilitv and projective abil-
sal, Canguilhemmaintained that illnessultimatcly is defined bv it!, humanitv'sconceptualcareer,is central to its health. "Bcing
the vcrv terms that had defincd health, namely stable norms, healthymeansbeing not onlv normal in a given situation but also

l6
normativc in this and othcr evcntual situations.What character- ities r" ith his surrotrndingu,orld. "Lif'e becomesa rvilv, supple
iz es hc alt h is th c p o s s i b i l i ty o f tra n s c e n d i ngthe norm, rvhi ch intelligence of the rvorld, v'hile reason,for its part, cmergcsas
dellnes the momentarv normal, thc possibility of tolerating in- somethingmorc vital: it finally developsa logic that is more than
fractionsof the habitual norm and instituting ncw norms in nerv a mere logic ol identity."20Reasonand life are intcrtu,incd, not
siruations."r8t ifc is an activitv that fbllorvsa norm. But hcalth is opposed,but neither legislatcsthc othcr,
not heing nor m.rl ;h e a l th i s b e i n g n ,' rm a ti re
In gcneral, reflectionson the relationshipsbetteen concepts A New U nderstonding of Life: Error
and Iif'e require clarification ofthe fact that at least trvo distinct It hasbecome a commonplaceto saythat Canguilhem'srecogni-
orders are bcing investigated.First, there is life as fbrm, life as tion bv an English-speak ing public, bcvond a fcrv specialistsin
tlre "univcrsal organization of mattcr" (le vivantl, and second, the history of thc lifc sciences,fbllorvs in the q'ake of the suc-
tlrere is life as the experienceof a singular living being rvho is cessofo ne of his f avor it est udent sand f iiends,M ichcl Foucault .
consciousof his or her lifc (1evLu). By "life" - in French - one While not exactlv false,such an appreciationremainsinsuflicient
could mcan either 1evivant,the presentparticiPleof the verb "to unless rve also ask rvhat it rvas in Canguilhem'slvork u'hich so
livd' (r,n're),or thc past participle ./erecu.Canguilhcmis unequiv- intercstcd Foucault. And, even further, are these problems the
ocal on this point: the first level o{ life, form, controls thc sec- most pertinent lor an American auclience?panguilhem'srvork, it
ond, cxpcrience.Although it is only the first level, the powcr ancl is rvorth underlining, is relevantfirr diversert'asols.The qucstion
dimensionsof life, rvhich constitutesthe explicit sub-
for-rn-giving to be askedthen is, Why read him todav?Thc ansrverlics par-
ject mattcr of his u'ork, the presenceof the sccontl is fiequentlv tiallv in anothcr frequent commonplace.Canguilhem'spredeces-
filt nonetheless.re For all its declarativeclaritv, the claim of pri- sor, Bachelard,inventeda method fbr a ne*.historv of the "hard
ority only thinly masksthe kecn a*arenessof suffcringand search- sci ences"of chem ist r v, phvsicsand m at hem at ics;his st udent ,
ing - in a rvord, pathos - rvhich is the expericntial double, the Foucault,worked on the "dubious sciences"ol Man; Canguilhem
c ons t antc om p a n i o n , o f C a n g u i l h e m' si n s i stentconceP tual i sm. hi msel f h asspcnt his lif c t r acing t he linim ent sof a hist or y of t he
Thc pathosof cxistenceis alrva,rsclose at hand for this phvsician conceptsofthe sciencesof life. l-et us suggestthat today it is thc
cum philosophercum pedagogue. biosciences- rvith a rencrvcd claboration of such conccpts of
In fact, a not-so-latentexistcntialism,albeit ol a distinctive norms and life, dcath and information - that hold center stage
and idiosvncraticsort, shadowsCanguilhem'sconccption ofmed- in the scientific and social arena;hcncc the rencrvctirclcvance
icine. ( )ne easilvhearsechocsof Sartreand Merleau-Pontv'searlv ol GeorgesCanguilhem.
themes,transposedto a diffcrcnt registerand played rvith a dis- In his 1966essay"Le Concept et la vie," Canguilhemanalvzecl
tincti'e llair. Canguilhem'svariantsof "to freedom condemncrl" the contemporaryrevolution under rvavin geneticsanclmolecu-
and "thc structurc ofcomportment" arc composeclin a diflerent lar biologv. The essay,a historical tour de lbrce, traces the con-
kev. His individual is condemnedto adaptto an environmcnt and cept of lilc as form (and cxperience)as rvell as knorvleclgeof that
affin-
to act using conccptsand tools that haveno preestablishec] [or-n, fiom Aristotle to thc present.Canguilhemdemonstratesthe

r8
continuitv of problematiTationand the discontinuitv of ansllcrs merely accidental or external to life but its Iundamentallorm.
in t he his t or y o fth c c o n c e p t o fl i fe . T h i s h i stori calreconstruc- Knou.ledge,following this understandingof life, is "an anxious
tion providesthe groundrvorkfor an analvsisofour contemporary r;uest" (une rechercheinquiite) fcrr thc right infbrmation. That
conceptualizationof life, Canguilhem framcsJamesD, Watson information is only partially to be fbund in the genes.Whv and
and FrancisCrick's discovervof the structureof the double helix how the genetic code is activated and functions, and what the
as an information svstemrone in which the codc and the (cellu- resultsare,are questionsthat can bc adequatclyposedor anslvered
lar) milir:u arc in constant interaction. There is no simple, uni- onlv in the context ol life, le vivant,andcx perience,1eldcu,
directional causalrelation between genetic infbrmation and its
ef'fccts.The ne* understandingoflifc Iies not in the structuring Conclusion
of matter and the regulation of functions, but in a shift of scale Michel Foucault, in an essaydedicated to Canguilhem,"La Vic,
and location - fiom mechanicsto infbrmation and communica- I' exp6ri enceet la science, " char act er izeda division in Fr cnch
tion theory.2rIn an important sense,the new understandingoflife thought betu.eensubject-orientedapproaches,u'hich emphasize
as information rejoins Aristotle insofaras it posits life as a logos meaning and experience,and those philosophiesllhich take as
"inscribed, converted and transmitted" u,ithin living matter.22 their object knorvledge,rationality and concepts.2lThe rhetori-
Hou,evcr,rve havecome a long way since Aristotle. Thc telos of cal efl'ect*,as marvelous.While everyonehad heardof Sartreand
lifc most commonly proposedtoday is more an ethological one, Merleau-Ponty,f'ewpeople bevonda small circle of spccialistshad
s eeing behav i o r a s d e te rm i n e d a n d h u mans more as ani mal s, actuallv read the u,ork of Cavailldson the philosophyof set thc-
than a contemplative one that assignsa special place to reflec- orv in mathematicsor Canguilhem on the historv of the reflex
tion and uncertainty.From sociobiologiststo manv advocatesof arc.li The irony rvasmade more tantalizing by al)usionsto the
the Human Genomc Project, the code is the central dogma. activitiesin thc resistanceof one side
unflinching and high-stakes
Canguilhemrejectsthis telos.lf homosapiensis as tightll pro- of the pair (Cavailldswas killcd by the Nazis after forming the
grammedasthe ethologists (or many molecularbiologists)think, rcsi stancenet wor k t hat Canguilhem. joined) ,while t he ot her s
then hot', Canguilhcm asks,can rve explain error, the history of livecl in Paris, n'riting pamphlets. Foucault u'as rcvealing to us
errors and thr: history of our victories over error? Genetic crrors a hi dden r elat ionshipof t r ut h and polit ics, indicat ing anot hcr
are nou'understood as informational errors. Among such errors, type of intellectual, one lbr whom totality and authenticitv bore
hou'ever,a large number arise from a maladaption to a milieu. different forms and norms. Hou,ever,there is a ccrtain insi(ler's
Oncc again hc rcintroduces the theme of normality as situated humor involved;twenty vearsearlier,Canguilhemhad employcd
ac t ion, not a s a p rc g i v c n c o n d i ti o n . Ma n ki nd makes mi stakes the samcdistinctions,applvingthem to Cavaillisduring the 1930s
uhen it placesitself in the rvrong place, in the rvrong relation- lhile mocking thosc who deduced that a philosophv u'ithout a
ship rvith the environment, in the vvrong place to receive the subject must lead to passivityand inaction. Cavaillis, u'ho had
infbrmationneededto survive,to act, to flourish,We must move, madc thc philosophicjour ncv t o G cr m anydur ing t he 1930sand
crr, adapt to sunive. This condition of "crring or drifting" is not *.arnedearlvon ofthe dangersbrervingthcrc, did not, Canguilhem
tells us, hesitateu-hen the rvar finallv camc.2tRather than lr.rit-
Panr ONr
ing a nroral trcarisc to ground his actions, he .joincd thc rcsis-
tance \vhile finishing his rvork on logic as best he could_ Truth
and polit ic s w c re d i s ti n c t d o m a i n sfb r th e sethi nkersofthc con-
c c pt ; or ) c $ a s e th i c a l l r o b l i q e d ro n c t i n br)th dorraj ns u,hj l c
M e th o d o l o g y
ncver losing sight of rhe specificity of cach. Cavaillds'sexamplc
of rigorousthought and principlcd action, while still compclling
todav (espccirllygiventhc misunderstanding and moralizingabout
French thought rampant acrossthe Rhine, thc Channel and the
A t lant ic ) , r i o u l d s e e mro d e n ra n da re n ervcdconceptual i zati on.
The riseand cphenreralglory of structuralismand Althusserianism
havesho'r'n rhat rcnror.ingth< humanisrsubject in rhc social sci,
cncesby itself guaranteosncithcr an epistemoJogicaljump from
ideologv to sciencenor more elfictive political action (anv more
t hnn r eins e rti n ga q u a s i -tra n s c e n d c n ta
s ul bj ectrvi l l provi de such
guarantees).While Canguilhem'svrork enablesone to think and
r f t hink s uc h p ro b l e ms , i t o b v i o u s l y d o cs not ofl i ,r an,-readr_
madeans.wers lbr the ftrture.Dcplovingreadvmadesolutionsfronr
the past, r,hen historl hasnrovcdon, conceptschanged,milieus
alt c r ed, r v o u l d , C a n g u i l h e m h a s ta u g h t u s, c()nstj tutea mai or
crror - an crror nratcheclin its gral ity onlv bv thosc sceking to
annul his t or v .b l u r c o n c c p tsa n d h o mo g e ni zeenvi ronmenrs,Li v_
ing beingsarc capablcof correctingrheir errors,and Canguilhem.s
u ork oflirs us tools to begin, once agar'n,the processofdoing so.
CHapr r n C) Ne

The Hist or y of Science

The Object of Historical Discourse


[1 ] W he n one speaksof t he "science of cr vst als, "t he r elat ion
bctwccn scienceand crystalsis not a genitive,asvvhen one speaks
of the "mother of a kitten." The scienceof cr,vstals
is a discourse
on the nature ofcrystal, the nature ofcrvstal being nothing other
than its identity: a mincral asopposcdto an animal or vegetable,
and independcntof an,r'useto u,hich one may put it. When crvs-
crystaloptics and inorganicchemistrvare constituted
talJography,
as sciences,the "nature of crvstal" just is thc contcnt of the sci-
enceofcrystals,bv which I meanan objectivediscourseconsisting
ofcertain propositionsthat ariseout ofa particularLind oIrvork.
That w or k, t he r vor k of science,includes t he f br m ulat ion and
testing ofhypotheses,which, once tested, are forgotten in favor
of their rcsults.
When H6ldne Metzger wrote Ld Geniscde la scicncedesctistaux,
she composeda discourscabout discourscson thc nature of crvs-
tal.l But thesediscoursesu.crc not originallv the sameas rvhat u,e
nou'takc to bc the correct discourseabout crystals,thc discourse
that defines rvhat "crvstals" are as an object of science. Thus,
the historv of sciencc is the history of an object - discoursc-
that ir a historv and fiosa historv, rlhereasscienceis the science

2t
ol'an objecr rhit is rt()t.rhisrorv,that hasno historv' pai<Jto a significant f;ct about tht' crnt'rgcnceol this genre: it
T he objc c t " c rv s ta l " i s a g i v e n . Ev c n i f th e s ci enceofcrystal s re<luiredno ferverthan two scientific.rnd trvo philosophicalrev-
must take the historr',r1the earth and the historv of mincrals into ol uti onsas it s pr ccondit ions.C) ncscient ilic r evolut ionc. r ccur r ed
ac c ount ,t hat his to n ' s ti n re i s i ts e l fa g i v e n . Because" crvstal " i s in mathematics,in rvhich Descartes'sanalltic geornetrvrvaslol-
in somc scnseindcpenrJcntof thc scientific discourscthat seeks lorved bv the infinitesimal calculusof Leibniz an(l Ne\vton; the
to obtain knou ledge atrout it, we call it a "natural" object.2 Of secondrevolution, in mechanicsand cosmology,is svmbolizedby
course, this natural object, cxternal to discourse,is not a scien- Descartes'sPrinciplesol Philosoplr.y
and Newton's Principia- ln phi-
tilic oblcct. Naturc is not t1ivento us asa set ofdiscrcte scientific losophy,and, more precisely,in the theorv of knovr'ledge,that
objccts and phcnomena.l.Science constitutcsits obiects bv invent- is, the foundationsofscience, Cartesianinnatism was one revo-
i ng a m et hod of fo rm u l a ti n g , th ro u g h p ro p o s i ti onscapabl eof lution and Lockeian sensualismthe other. Without Descartes,
being combined intcgrallv.i theory controlled by a concern rvith rvithout a rending oftradition, there $,ould be no history ofsci-
constitutcd as soon as
proving itself * rong, Crystallography\'\,as ence. IEtudes,pp. 16-17]
the crystallinespeciescould I'e defined in tcrms of constancyof
[2] W as Ber nar d I - e Bouvicr f ont encllt m ist akt 'n uhcn hc
fice anglcs,srstemsol symmetrr. and regular truncation ofvcr- looked to Descartesfbr justification of a cerrain philosophv of
ti c es . " T he es s rn ti a lp o i n t," R e n (' J u s tH a i i v \\,ri tcs," i s that the the hi story of science?Fr om t he denial t hat aut hor it v holds anv
theon and cnstalliTationrrltinratclrcome togetherand find com- val i di tl i n s ciencc,Font encller casoncr l,ir lbllons t hat t hc con-
m on gr or r nd. "l di ti or.,,ftl u t h , r r esubjectt o hist or ic. r ch,
l r ngr .But d, , e, ir
, r h"l
T hc objc c t of th e h i s to rv o f s c i c n c c h a sn o thi ng i n contmon make sens ct o pr oposea hist or icist r e. r dinqof a t ir ndam ent ally
$it h t he objec t o fs c i c n c r.' [h e s c i e n ti fi co b j cct, consti tutedbv antihistoricistphilosophy?lf rve hold that rruth cornesonlv liom
mcthodicalrliscourse.is secondaqto, althoughnot clerivedfrom, the evi den ceand t he I ight of nat ur e,t hen t r ut h, it u'cr uldseem ,
the init ial nat ur a lo b j e c t, rv h i c h mi g h t rv e l l b e cal l ed(i n a dcl i b- hasno historical dimcnsion, and scitncc cxists rub spccreoercrnr-
cratc plal on lr.or<ls)tlre pre-text. The historr,ofscicnce applies fdfi .r(hcncc t hc Car t esianphilosophyis. r nr ihist or icist ) Bur
. per -
itself to these sec.rndary.nonnatural, cultural objectsl but it is haps Fontcnelle deser vescr edit f or not icing nn im por t ant but
not derived liom them dny more than thcv are derived fiom nat- negl ectedaspect of t he Car t t 'sianr cvolut ion: Car t csiandoubt
ural objects. The object oI historical discourscis, in ef]ect, the refused to comment on prior claims to knowlcdgc. lt not only
historicitv ol scientific cliscourse.Bv "historicitv ofscientiflc dis- rejected the legacvofancient and medicval physicsbut erected
course" I mean the progressofthe discursiveproject asmeasurcd nclv norms of truth in place of the old. Hence, it rencleredall
againstits orvn intcrnal norm. 'lhis progrcssma\i moreover,meet previotrsscicncc obsoleteanclconsignedit to the surpassedpast
rvith accidents,be delavedor diverted bv obstacles,or be intcr-
lle passdddpass{.Fontenellethus rcalizcdthat rvhcn Cartesianphi,
rupt ed by c r is c s ,th a t i s , l n o mc n tso fj trd g mc n t and truth. losophv killed tradition - that is, the unrellective continuitv of
T he his t or v o l s c i c n c c w .ts b o rn a s a l i tc r art' genre i n the
past and present- it provided at the sametime r rational lbun-
eight c c nt h c ent u rv . I l i n d th a t i n s u ffi c i e n t a t tenti on has bcen
d.rtion fbr a possiblehistorv, fbr an emergentconsciousness
that
the cvolution ol humankindhasmeaning lfthe past$.ls no longer nraturesciencestit cor r espondst o no nat ur alobject , hence it s
judgc of t he p re s c n t.i t u a s , i n th e fu l l s e nseof thc I' ord, rvi r- study cannot fall back on rrrercdcscription or reproduction. 1'he
nessto a movelncnt tnar rranscendedit, that dethroned the past historianhimself nrust createhis subject mattcr, startingfrom the
in favor of the prescnt.As Fontcnelle rvaswell aware,before the current stateof the biologic.rl.rndsocialsciencesat a given point
Moderns could speakabout thc Ancients, even to praise thcm, i n ti me , a st at e t hat is neit her t he logical con5cquencenor t he
thev had to take their distance.IEtudcs,p. 55] historicalculmination of any prior stnteof a dcvelopedscience-
hasno his- not o[ thc mathematicso[ Pierre-SimonLaplaceor the biologv
[3] According to Desc.rrtes,however,knowlcdge
torv. It took Newton, and the refutation ofCartesian cosmology, ofCharles Darwin, the psychophvsics
of GustavFechner,the cth-
fdr histon - that is, the ingratitudeinherent in the claim to begin nologv of Frederick Taylor or the sociologvof Emile Durkheim.
anervin repudiation of all orlgins - to aPPearas a dimension of Note, moreover,that Adolphe Qu!teJet,Sir FrancisGalton,.lames
s.i"ncei Th" historv of scienceis the explicit, theoretical recog- McKeon Catell and Alfred Binct coul(l develop biometrics and
nition ofthe fact that the scicncesare critical, progressivedis- psvchometricsonlv after variousnonscientiflc practiceshad pro-
coursesfbr determiningwhat aspectsof cxperienccmust be taken vided raw materialsuitablefbr mathem.rticaltreatment.Qu!telet,
as r c al. T he o b j c c t o fth c h i s to tt o fs c i e n ce i s thereforea non- fbr example,studieddataabout hrrmansize;the collection ofsuch
given,an object wlrosc incomplctenessis tssential.ln no rvaycan data presupposesa certain tvpc ol institution, namelv,a national
t he his t or v o l s c i e n c e b e th e n a tu ra lh i s to rv ofa cul tural obj ect. armv whose r anks ar c t o be lilled bv conscr ipt ion. hence an
All too oftcn. horvever,it is practiccclas though it uerc a lbrm i D tcrc stin t he st andar dsf or select ilg r ccr uit s. llinet 's st uclyof
of naturalhistorl',contlatingscienccrvith scientistsand scicntists i ntel l ect ual apt it udes pr esupposcsanot her t ) pe of inst it ut ion,
or else conflating sci-
u'ith their civil and ac.rdenticbicrgraphics, compulsor v pr im ar v educat ior r ,an( l a concom it nnt int er est in
encc rvith its results.rndrcsultsu ith the fbrm in *'hich they hap- measuringbackwardness.Thus,lin order to study the particular
pcn to be expressedfbr pcdagogicalPurPoses at a particularpoint aspectof the history of scienccdeflneclabove,one must look not
in t im e. I E t u d e r,p p . l 7 -1 8 ] only at a number of differcnt scicncesbearingno intrinsic rcla-
ti on to one anot herbut alsoat "nonscience, "t hat is, at ideologv
The Constitution of Historical Discourse and political and social praxisJOur subject, then, hasno natural

[ 4] T he his to ri a n o f s c i e n c e h a s n o c h oi ce but to defi ne hi s theoreticallocus in one or anotherofthe sciences,any more than


object. lt is his decision alone that determines thc interest and it hasa natural locus in politics or pedagogv.lts thcorctical locus
importance of his subject mrtter. This is essentiallvalrvavsthe must be soughtin t he hist or yof science it self anclnowher eelse,
case,evcn rvhen the historian'sdecision rcflccts nothing more fbr it is this historv and onlv this histor\,that constitutesthe spc-
t han an unc ri ti c a l rc s p e c tfo r tta d i ti o n . cific domain in w-hichthc thcoretical issuesposed by the rlevel-
T ak e, f o r e x a m p l e , th c a p p l j c n ti o n of probabi l i tv to ni ne- opment of scient if ic pr act icc f lnd t heir r esolut ion. 5Q udt elet ,
t c ent h- c en tu rv b i o )o g y a n d s o c i a l s c i e n ce.aThe subj ect does (i regor M endel, Binet and Th6odor t 'Sim onest al>lished neu, and
not f all *it hi n th e b o u n d a ri e so fa n l r-' fth e ni D etccnthcentur)' s unfore seenr clat ions bet ween m at henr at icsand pr act ices t hat

28
\\.ereoriginall! nonscicntilic, such asselection,hvbridizationand the clt'ments accelerateclthe pacc ol progressin chcnristrv,antl
or ient at ion . T h e i r d i s c o v e ri c sw e re a n s \1crstcr questi onsthev eventuallyled t o an upheavalin at or nic physics,u'hile ot hcr sci-
askedthcnrsel'esin a languagethey had to fbrge for thcmselres. enccsm aint ained a m or e m easur edpace. Thus, t he hist or v of
, Critical studv of those <luestionsand thosc ansrversis thc proper science,a historv of the rclation of intelligence to ttuth, gcner-
I object of thc historv of science.Should anvonevvishto suggest atcs its own senseof time. Just how it does this dcpcn<lson horv
t hat t he c on c c p t o [ h i s to rv p ro p o s e dh e rc i s " external i st," the tht' progressof scicnce permits this history to reconstitute thc
firregoingtliscussionshoultl suffice to disposeoIthc objection. theoretic.rldiscotrrseoI the past. A ne.r c]iscovcrlnrar rrakc it
l-hc history of science can of course accommodate various possibleto unclerstanda discoursethat waj not untlerstoodrvhen
kinds of objects rvithin the specific theoretical domain that it it was first enunciated,such as Mcndel's thcory of hereditv, or
constitutes:tlrerc are alrvavsdocuments to bc classilied,instru' i t may dem olish t hcor ies once consider edaut hor it at ivc. ( Jnlv
ments and techniquesto be dcscribed,methods and questionsto contnc t wit h r ecent scicncccan give t he hist or iana senseof his-
be interprcted, and conccpts to be analvzedand criticized. Only tori cal r upt ur e and cont inuit r . Such cont act is t : st ablished,as
t he las t of t h e s e ta s k sc o n l e rs th e d i g n i ty of hi storv of sci enct' Gaston Bachelar dt aught , t hr ough cpist em ology,so long as it
upon t he oth e rs . It i s e a s vto b e i ro n i c a bout thc i mportanc< : remai nsvigilant .
at t ac hed t o c o n c e p ts , b u t m o re d i ffi c u l t to understand rvhv, Thc history of scicncc is therefbreahavs in flux. It must cor-
u it hout c on c e p ts ,th e rc i s n o s c i e n c e .T h e hi storv of sci encei s rcct itself constanth.'Ihe relation betrveenAichimcrles'method
' int er es r edin , s a r,th e h i s to rvo l i n s tm m e n tsor ol ' academi esonl r ol erhaust ion and m oder n calculus is not t he sam e lbl t odav's
ins of ar as t h c y a re re l a te d , i r b o th th e i r uscsanclthei r i ntcn- m.lthcmatician.rsit u as for JeanEtienneMontucl.r,the firit great
tions, to theories. Descartesneeded David Ferrier to grind opti- hi storianof m at hem at ics.I - hisis lr ecauscno def init ion ol m at h-
cal glass,but it rvashe rvho provided the theorv of the curvesto ematicswas possiblebelore thcre rvasmathematics,that is, belorc
be obtained lrr srinding. mathematicshad b,.-enconstituted through a serieso1 rliscoveries
A his t or y o l re s u l tsc a n n e re r L rea n y th i ngmore than a chron' antl decisions."Nlatht'maticsis a devclopmentalproct,sslun do'c-
iclc. The historv of scienceconcernsan ariological activin'. the nir]," saidJeanC.rvaillis. lhe historianoI mathem.rticsrnu\t take
scarchfor truth. This axiologicalactivity appearsonly at the Ievel his provisionaldcfinition of$'hat m.lthematicsis fiom contempo-
of ques t ions , m e th o d sa n d c o n c e p ts ,b u t norvhereel se. H cnce, rarv mathematicjans.Manv rvorksonce releyantto nlathematics
t im e in t he h i s to rv o fs c i e n c t' i s n o t th e ti me o[cvcryday l i fe. in an earlicr pcriod Draytherefbrecraseto be relcvantin historical
A chronicle of inventionsor discovcricscan be peliodizcd in the pfrsp('ctive;fiom a ne$lv rigorousstandpoint,previouslr impor-
lame wiv as ordinary historv.The datesoI birrh and death listcd tant works nr.rr'lrecomctrivi.rl .rpplications.IFruJcr,pp. I8-20]
in scicntific biographicsare datesfiom thc ordinarv calendar,but
the aclventof truth fbllowsa dif]irent timetablein eachdiscipline; Rccursion ond R uptu res
t he c hr onol u q r o l rtri l i ,..rti o tr l ra r i ts o ,tn \i \(oj i t\, i ncompJt- [5] In est ablishingsuch a closc connect ionbct u, eer repist em ol-
ible rvith onlinarv historv.Dmitrv Mendelevev'spcriodic tablc of ,rgv and t hc hist or r ol'scit 'nce I am , of cour se,clr r r vingon t hc

lo ll
MEIFTOD

6 approach,Br-observingthcsc rules hc rvill avoid the error of, fbr


inspirational teachingso[ Gaston Bachelard The fundamental
instance,seeingPierreLouis Moreaude Maupertuisasa prcm;rture
conceptsof Bachclard'sepistcmologvarc bv no\4'*'ell knort n' so
transfornristor geneticist,"[/dcologrond Rationalit.r, pp. l0-12]
well knou'n, perhaps,that thev havebeen disseminatedand dis-
When Bachelard speaks
ofa nom or value,it is bccauscin
cussed,especiallyoutside France,in a vulgarized,not to saYsani- [6]
fbrct'ol the original- Among thi nkj ng ol his f ) vor it e science,m at hem at icalphvsics,he ider t i-
tized, lbmr, devoid of the pc-,lemical
fies theorv with mathemati<s. I Iis rationalismis built on a lrame-
t hem a re th e n o ti o n s o f n e w s c i e nti fi c spi ri t, epi stemol ogi cal
rvork of m at hem at ism . I n nr at hem at icsone speaksnot ol t hc
obstac)e,epistemologicalbrcak lrupture),and obsolete or "ofli-
" normal " but ol r hc "nor m ed. " ln cont r asrt o or t hodox logical
c ial" s c i e n c e . ' .
posi ti vi st s,Bachelar dholds t hat m at hem at icshasepist em ologi-
To my mind, the best summarv of Bachelard'sresearchand
ca] content , nhet her act ual or pot ent ill. and t hat plogr essin
teachingcan be lirund in the concluding pagesof his last episte-
mathematicsadds to that content. On this point he agrccsrvith
mologicaf work, Le Mati alismerationnel.l I{erc the notion ot
epistemologica)discontittuity in scientific pro-qressis supported JeanCavaiJlts.r",hosccritique of logical positjvismltJs lost norh-
the history and teaching of science in ing ofits vigor or rigor. Cav.rillisrefutesRudolph Carnapbv shorv-
' by argumcnts based on
i ng that "m at hem at icalr easoningis int er nallvcoher entin a lav
the twentieth century. Bachelardconcludcs with this statement:
"Contemporarr scienceis basedtrn the searchfor true lviritablel
that cannot be rushecl.lr is by nature progt'ess ivc." r) As to thc
natureoft his pr ogr ess,he concludcs,
facts and the synthesisoftruthful lvd digue) larvs'" Bv "truth-
lul" B a c h e l a rdd o c s n o t me a n th a t sci enti fi c l arvssi mpl v tel l a
(Jneof rlrc lundamental problemsr,rith the docrrincol scicnccis
tiuth pcnnanently inscribed in objects or intcllect. Truth is sim-
prcciscllthat proglcssis in no waycomparablc to increasing
a givcn
pl} \\'hat sciencespeaks,Horv,then, do rve recognizethat a state-
lolumc br addingI smaliaddition.ri .rmounrrrrwhari\ nlrea(lrrhere,
nrent is scientific? By the fact that scicntiIic truth neversPrings
the old subsisting rvith tlre nerr'.Rather,it ir perpetualrevision,in
fully blorvn from the head ofits creator' A scicncc is a discourse
u hichsonrerhingsar.eeliminrtetlrnd otherschboratrd.\\rharcorrrcs
qoue rn e db y c ri ti c a l c o rre c ti o n . If thi s di scoursehasa hi storv
rlrer is greatcrthanr,r'hatr,r,cnt
bclbrc,nor bccause the prescnrcon-
*hose course the historian believeshe can reconstruct, it is be-
tainsor supcrsedcs thc pastIrut bccausc thc onc ncccss.rrily
causcit i.ra historr r,rhosemeaningthe cPistemologistmust reac- cmcrges
liom the otherandin its c()ntentcnrriesthe nrrrk o1its suprri()rity,
tivate. "Everv historianof scicncc is necessarilya historiograPher
rvhi chis in cachcaseuniqut . ll
of truth, The eventsof sciencc arc linked togethcr in a steadilv
gr<-,rvingtruth. . . . At variousmoments in the historv of thought,
Ncvcrtheless,the use of cpistemologicairecursionas a historical
thc past of thought and expcriencecan be scen in a neu' light'"8
method i s not univer sallvvalid. I t best f it s t he disciplincsf ir r t hc
Guided br this ne\1light, thc historianshould not make tlre error
study ol rvhich it r vasor iginallvdcvcloped:m at hcm at icalphvs_
of thinking that persistcntuse o[ a particular term indicatesan
ics and nuclcar chemistr\'.C)fcourse.therc is no reasonrvhv onc
ir v ari a n ru n d c rl y i n gc o n c e P t,o r that persi stental l usi onto si mi -
r ann,,l rrr r dr a p, r r t icr r l, r r lr
. r dr an<. . ,.11r , ,i.<r lt r anr l t lt -
lar cx p c ri m c n ta l o b s e rv a ti o n sc o n notesai l i ni ti es ofnl ethod or . r hstr . r .t

t? tl

\
rules for the production ofknowledge l'hich may, with caution, need not discussit in detail. But in painting a quite accuratepic-
be extrapolatedto other disciplines. In this scnse,the method ture of Galileo as an Archimcdeanas much as a Platonist, is not
cannot be generalizedso much as it can be broadened.Yet it can- Koyr6 abusingthe fieedom of the recurrencemethod?rsAnd is
not bc extended to other areasof the history of sciencewithout he not somewhat overstatingthe casein sayingthat the change
a good deal of reflection about the specific nature of the areato in Galileo's thinking marked a total repudiation of Aristotelian-
be studied. Considcr, fbr cxample, eighteenth-century natural ism? Is not Ludovico Geymonat right to point out that Koyr6's
history. Before applving Bachelardiannorms and proceduresto interpretation neglectsall that Galileo preseruedfrom Aristote-
the study of this subject, one must ask when a conceptualcleav- lian tradition even ashe was proposingthat mathematicsbe used
age12
occurrcd whose effectswere asrevolutionaryas were those to bolster logic?16Thus, Koyr6 is him self challengedon the very
of t he int r o d u c ti o n o f re l a ti v i ty a n d q u antum mechani csi nto poi nt on which he challengedPier r e l) uhem when he wr ot e,
physics.Such a cleavageis barelvperceptiblein the early Danvin- "The apparentcontinuity in the developmentoIphysics fiom the
ian vears,ll and, to the extent that it is visible at all, it is only Middle Ages to the prescnt [a continuitv that Jean-PaulCaverni
as a r es ult o f s u b s e q u e n tc a ta c l y s ms :th e ri se ofgeneti cs and and Pierre Maurice Duhem have so assiduouslystressed]is illu-
molccu lar biology sory.... No matter how well the groundrvorkhasbeen laid, a rcv-
Hence, the recurrenccmcthod must be usedjudiciously,and olution is still a revolution."rTlldeologrond Rationalitr,pp. l3-15]
u,e must learn more about the nature of epistemologicalbreaks.
Ofien, the historian in searchof a major watershedis tempted Science ond Scientific Ideologies
to follorv Kant in assumingthat science begins w,ith a flash of
insight, a rvork ofgenius. Frequently the effectsofthat flash are Whot is scientificideology?
saidto be all-embracing,aflectingthe whole of a scientist's*.ork. [7] Scientific ideology, unlikc a political classideology, is not
But the reality is different. Evenwithin one man'su'ork $'e often lalse consciousness. Nor is it falsc science.l-he essenccof filse
fincla sericsof fundamentalor partial insightsrather than a single scienceis that it neverencounterslalsehood,neverrenouncesanY-
dramatic break. A theory is r.r'ovenof many strands,some of which thing, and never has to change its languagc,For a lhlse sciencc
mav be quite new rvhile others are borrorvedfiom older fabrics. there is no prescientific state. The asscrtionsof a falsc science
The Copernicanand Galileanrevolutionsdid not sweepawaytra- can ncve r be f alsif ied. Hence, f alse sciencehas no hist or v. Bv
dition in one fell srvoop.Alexandre Koyre has located what he contrast,a scientific ideologydoeshavea historv.A scicntific ide-
considersto bc the decisive"mutation" in Galileo's work, the ologv comes to an end when thc place that it occupied in the
dec is iv e c ha n g e i n th i n k i n g th a t ma d e h i m unabl e ro accept encyclopediaof knou4edgeis taken over by a disciplinethat oper-
medieval mechanicsand astronomy.raFor Koyr6, the elevation ationallv demonstratesthe validitv of its own claim to scientific
of mathematics- arithmetic and geometry - to the statusof key status,its ou'n "norms of scientificity." At that point, a ccrtain
t o int elligib i l i tv i n p h y s i c si n d i c a te d a re jecti on of A ri stotl e i n lorm ofnonscience is cxcluded fiom the domain ofscience. I sa!
favor of Plato. Koyr6'sargument is sufliciently r+ell knorvn that I "nonscience" rathcr than use BogdanSuchodolski'sterm "anti-

It

\
scicnce" simplv in ordcr to take note of the fact that,\n a scicn- probabilit ies t o decide u'het hcr t he lr equencv ol a par t icular
t if ic idc olo g y , th e rc i s a n e x p l i c i t a m b iti on to be sci ence. i n abnormalitv rvithin a particular lamilv rva,ior $as not fbrtuitous,
im it at ion o f s o m r a l re a c l vc o n s ti tu te drrodel ofu,hat sci encei s.l and exp laincdhvbr idizat ionbl assum ingt hc cxist enceof scm i-
T hjs is a c ru c i a l p o i n t. T h e e x i s te n c eol sci enti fi c i deo)ogi es nal atoms. her eclit ar vclcm ent s t hat com bined dur ing copula-
implics the par.rlleland prior existenceoI scientillc discourses. tion. But it is enough to conlparc the writin(s crfl\'laupertuisand
Henc c , it a l s o p te s u p p o s e sth a t a d i s ti n cri on has al rcadl bccn It4endelto see thc magnitudc oI the gap betu'ccn a scienccand
m ade bc t v v e c ns c i e n c ea n d rc l i g i o n . the ideologv that it replaccs. fhe f:actsthat Mcnclel studics are
Cons ide r th c c a s c o f a to mi s m. D e m ocri tus, E pi curus and not thoscglcanedbv a casualobsen,er;thcv are obl ained through
Lucrctius claimerl scientific statusfor thcir physicsand psychol- systematicresearch- rescarch(lictatedby thc nature of Mendcl's
ogv.To the anriscienceofreligion they oppost'dthe antireligionof problcm, lbr *"hich thcre is no precedcnt in the pre-trlendelian
science.Scierrtificideologvneglectsthe nrethodoiogicairequire- iiteraturc. lUcndel invented the icleaof a ch.tructet,bv rvhich he
m c nt s and o p e ra ti o n a lp o s s i b i l i ti e so f s ci encei n thar real m of me.rnt not thc clementar\'.r!lcnt of hereditarl transmissionbut
cxperienceit choosesto cxplorc; btrt it is not therebv ignorance, thc element ofhcrcditv itself. A Mcndelianchar.rcccr
coulclenter
and it cloesnot scorn or repudiatcthe firnction ofscience. Hence, into cornbination rvith n other characters,anclone could mea-
scicntiflc idcologr is by no meansthe samething assupcrsrition, sure thc licquencv of it s appear ancein successive gencr at ions.
fbr ideologvhasits place,possiblyusurperl,in the realm ol knorvl- Mcnrlel rras not intcreste(lin stmcturc, fertilization or (levelop-
t ' r lgc .not in th e re a l m o l ' re l i g i o u sb e l i c l . N or i s i t supersri ti on ment. For hinr . hvbr idizat ion\ r 'asnot a wal ol cst ablishingt hr
in t he s t r ic t e t1 ' mo l o g i c asl e n s c .A s u p c rsti ti oni s a bel i ef from constancvor inconst ancvol a glcr balt vpe; it u'ls a *ay of dccom -
an olc l r eligi o n th a t p c rs i s tsd e s p i tei ts p rohi bi ti on by a ncu rcl i - posing.rtvpe, an instrumcntr-rtanalysis, a tool fbr separatingchar-
gion. Scientific ideologvdocs indccd standover fsuperrtorel a sitc actersthat madc it necessarl'towork \\'ith largesamples.Hencc,
t hat u' ill ev e n tu a l l vb e o c c u p i c d b ,vs c i c nce.B ut sci encei s not Mcndcl rvasinterestcdin hvbridsdespitchis repudi.rtionol an age-
merelv ovcrlain;it is pushedasidefdcporrore]bv idcology.There- ol d trad it ion ol hybr id r csear ch.He $as not int er est edin scxual-
lc,re,lr.hensciencecrt'ntuallv supplanrsideologv, it is not in the itv or in thc controversvovcr innate versusacquiredtraits or ovcr
sitc expecte<1. and Rationalit.r,
lldeolog.v pp. 32-31) prtfirrmation versuscpigenelis. He rvasinrerestedonlr in verih-
i ng fi i s h r pot hesisvia t he calculat ionol com bin. r t ions. rM
8 enclel
Ilow scientiJicidcologiesdisappearand appear ncglectecleventhing that interestedthosc *ho in rtalitv rverenot
[8] For another, I hope convincing,exampleof the u'av in ll.hich his predecessors
at all. The seventeenth-centurv
idcologvofhered-
scientific ideologiesare supplantedbv science,consiclerthc Nlcn- itarv transmissionis repleteu ith obscn'ationsof animal and plant
dc lian t heory o f h c rc d i tv .Mo s r h i s ro ri rn so f bi ol ogv bel i everhat hl bri ds and m onst cr s.Suchcur iosit v scr vcdsever nlpur poses.I t
Nlnupertuislvasrhe folerunnerol modcrn gcneticsbecausein his supported one side or thc other in the dcbatcsl.lt'trveenprcfirr
Vdnus phvsiquehe considercd thc mcchanismsbv r,,,hichnormal nrari on ir t sand epigenesist s,
ovist sanr lanim alculist s.As a r esult ,
and abnormal traits are transmittecl.l-{calso uscd thc calculusof it rr,asusefil in rcsolving lc-galquestionsconccrning the subor-

36 l7

\
paternitv, the puritl ofbloodlines and the
dination ofthe sc.\-es, Everything, in other u,ords,evolvesfiom more to lesshomoge-
legitimacy ofthe aristocracy.fhese concernswere not unrelated neity and from lesserto greater individuation: the solar svstem,
to thc controversvbetween innatism and sensualism.The tech- the aninral organisnr,living specitrs,man, society,and tht'prod-
nology of hvbridization r,vasperfected by agronomistsin search ucts ofhuman thought and activity, including language.Spencer
varieties,as well as by botanistsinterestedin the
of advantageous explicitly statesthat he derived this law of evolution by gcneral-
relations betrveenspecies.On)y by isolating Maupertuis's [dnus izing the principlcs of enrbryologr;contained in Karl-Ernst
'on
phvsiquelrom its context can that work be compared with the der Thiere(1828). The publica-
Bacr's Ubcr Entwickelungsgeschichte
Versucheiber Pllanzenhvbriden.Mendel's science is not the end tion of the Origin of Species
in 1859 confirmcd Spencer'sconvic-
point ofa trail that can be tracedback to the ideologyit replaced, tion that his generalizedtheory of evolution sharedthc scientific
for the simpie reasonthat that ideologvfollowed not one but sel- validity o[ Darwin's biol<.rg1'.
But he also claimed for his larv of
eral trails, and none r\.asa course set by scienceitself. All were, evolution the support of a sciencemore finnlv establishedthan
rather, legaciesofvarious traditions, some old, others more re- the new biology: hc claimed to have deduced the phenomenon
cent. Orism and animalculisnru,ere not of the sameagc as the of evolution from the lau' of conservationol energy,which he
empirical and mythological .rrgumentsadvancedin favor ofaris- maintainedcould be used to prove that honrogeneousst.rtcsare
tocracy. Thc ideology of hercditvre u,'asexcessivelyand naively unstable. If one follons the development of Spencer'swork, it
ambitious. It sought to reso]vea number of important theoreti- seemsclear that he used von Baer'sand, later, Darrvin'sbiology
cal and practr'callegal problems rvithout having examined their to l end scient if ic suppor t t o his vier vson socialengineer ingin
fbundations. llt're the ideology simply rvithered au,ayby attri- t u r y Englishindust r ialsocict \ ',in par t icular ,his
ni nete ent h- cen
tion, But the elimination of its scientific underpinningsbrought advocacyoffree enterprise,political individualismand competi-
it into focus as an ideologv.The characterizationofa ccrtain set tion. From the larv ol differentiation, he deduccd that the indi-
ofobservationsand deductionsasan ideology came alter the dis- vi dual m ust be suppor t ed against t he st at e. But per haps t his
qualification ofits claim to be a science.This was accomplishcd "deduction" was containcd in the principles of the Spcncerian
by t he de v e l o p mc n t o f a n e w d i s c o u rse,w hi ch ci rcrrmscri bed svstemfiom the very bcginning.
its field of validity and proved itself through the consistencyof Thc lar r 'sof m echanics,em br r ologv and evolut ion cannot
it s r c s ult s . validly bc extended berond thc <lomainproper to each of these
l9l Instructiveasit is to study the wav in which scicntific ide- sciences.-fo $'hat end are specificthcoreticalconclusionssevcred
ologies disappear,it is even more instructive to studv how they fiom their premisesand applied out ofcontext to human expcri-
appear,Consider brieflv the genesisof a niDeteenth-centurysci- ence i n gener al, par t icular ly social exper ience?To a pr act ical
ent if ic id e o l o g v , e v o l u ti o n i s m. T h e * ork of H erbert S pencer end. E volut ionistideology u, asused t o just it v indust r ialsociet v
makesan intercsting casestudv. Spencerbelievedthat he could as againsttraditional societv,on the one hand, and the demands
statea universallyralid larv ofprogrcssin terms ofevolution from of workcrs, on the other. It $,asin part antith eological, in part
the simpie tcr tht'conrplex thrriugh successivediff!rentiations. aD ti socialistThus,
. elolut ionist idcology r vasan ideo] ouyin t he

l8 l9

\
Nlarxist scnse:a rcpresentationof nature or society lvhosc truth CHapr r n lt vo
lay not in rvhat it saidbut in n'hat it hid. Ofcoursc, cvolutionism
rvaslir broadcr than Spencer'sidcologv. But Spenccr'sviews had The Var ious M odels
a lastinginfluence on linguistsand anthropologists.I lis ideology
gavemeaning to the t'tord P mitive and salvedthe conscienceof
c olonialis ts .A rc m n a n t o f i ts l c g a c y c an sti l l be found i n the
lrchaviorof advancedsocietiestor",ardso-calledunderdeveloped
countrics, even though anthropologv has long sincc recognized
t hc plur al i tv o f c u l tu re s , p re s u m a b l ymaki ng i t i l l egi ti matc for
any one culture to set itself up as the vardstickbv which all oth-
ers are mcasured.In freeing themselveslrom their evolutionist
origins, contemporarv linguistics, ethnology and sociology have T h e Posi t i vi st Trad i ti on
s hown t ha t a n i d e o l o g t d i s a p p e a rsrv h en hi stori cal condi ti ons 110] Event scom plct elv ext r insict o scienceand logic, por t r avcd
ceaseto be compatible u.ith its existencc,The theorv of evolu- conventionall)il at all in standarclhistoriesofscientitlc rescarch,
tion haschangedsince Danvin, but l)arrvinism is an intcgral part vield an account that claims, if onlv in r-itualf.rshion,to tracc the
ofthe historl ofthe scicnccofevolution. Bv contrast,cvolution- logical development of a scientific idca. This l'ould bc surPris-
ist idcology is merelv an inopcrative residuein the historv of the ing onlv if there rvcreno distinction benveenscicnceand thc his-
and Rationalit.r,pp.31-111
human scicnces.lldcolog.v tory of scicncc. I n t hat casc,a biologist coul<lwr it e a hist or l ol
his rvork in exactly thc samc \\'av as he vloulcl rvrite a scicntific
paper,relving on exactlv the samccriteria he rvould use in evalu-
ating the truth of a hvpothesisor thc Potcntial ol a particularIint:
of rcscarch.But to procecd in this rvavis to treat h,vpothcses and
rescarchprogramsnot as projects but as obiects. When a scien-
ti l i c p r oposit ion is judged t o be t r ue, it t akeson a r et r oact ivc
validitv. It ceasesto be part ofthe endlessstrcam ol lbrgottcn
dreams,discardedprojects,failcd proceduresand erroneouscon-
clusions- things, in short, fbr u hich somconemust shoultlcrthe
respo nsibilit v.Thc clim inat ion of t he f ilsc bv t he t r uc - t hat is,
the ver illed - appear s,oncc it is accom plished,t o be t he quasi-
mechanicaleff'ectof ineluctablc,impersonalnecessity.Importing
such norms ofjuclgment into the historical domain is, thercfbre,
an inevitablc sourcc of misundcrstancling.
The retroactiveefl'ect

,1o

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of t he t r u th i n fl u e n c e sc v e n o n e ' s a s s essnl cnt
ofthe respecti ve odological statement has an epistemologicalcorollary, namelv,
contributions of variousinvestigatorsto a scientific discovery(an that there exists an eternal scientiflc method. ln some periods
as s es s m c nth
t a t o n l v a s p e c i a l i s its c o mpetent to make),because this method remainsdormant, r+hilc in others it is vigorousand
thc tcndencv is to see the historv of thc subject in the light of active.Gerd Buchdahlhascharacterizedthis corollary as naive,z0
today'struth, n,hich is easilyconfuscd \a'ith eternal truth. But if and onc would be inclined to agree if he u.erc rvilling to apply
truth is eternal, il it nevel changes,then there is no history: the the sam edescr ipt iont o t he em pir icism or posit ivismunder lving
historical content ofscience is reduced ro zero. It should come his own vierv.It is no accidentthat I attackpositivismar this point
asno surprisethat it $'aspositivism,a philosophyofhistory brsed in the argument:for after Flourensbut before Dijksterhuis,Picrre
on a gencralizationol'the notion that theor) inelrrctablysuccceds Lafitte, a confirmcd disciple ot Auguste Comre, compared the
theory as the true supplantsthe false,that led to science'scon- history of science to a "mental microscope."ll The use of such
tempt lbr historv.Over rime, a researchlaboratory'slibrarv tcnds an instrument, Lafitte suggests.revealshidden truths: thc under-
to divide into two parts:.tmuscunlanda uorking referencelibrary. standingof science is decpt'nedthrough cliscussionol the diffl-
The museumscctioncontainsbooks rvhosepagesone turns asone cultiesscientistsfacedin making thcir discoveries
and propngaring
might examinea llint ax, rvhereasthe referencesection contains their results.-fhe imagc of the microscope defincs the contcxt
book s t ha t o n e e x p l o re si n mi n u tc d e ta i l , as w i th a mi crotome.
lFormotiondu rdJlexe,pp. 155-56] t as the laboratorv,and there is, I think, a positivisrbiasin the idea
that historv is simply an injection of duration into the exposition
Ifl ] Eduard Jan Dijkstcrhuis, thc author of Die ,llechonisi.r- of sci ent ilic r esult s.A m icr oscopcm er eJvm agniliesor her wise
un61des Weltbildes,
thinki that thc historv of science is not only invisible objccts; the objects exist w'hetheror not one usesthe
science'smemory but also cpistcmology'sIaboratory.This phrase instrument to look fbr them. l'he implicit assumptionis that the
has been quored flerluently.The idea, u,hich has been accepted historian'sobjcct is ll ing thcrc u'aiting fbr him. All hc hasto do
bv numerousspecialists,hasa lesswell knor+nantecedent.pierre is look lbr it, just as a scientistmight look fbr something rvith a
Flourcns,refi:rringin his eulogv of GeorgesCuvier to the Hisroire mi croscopc.[ f t udes,pp. l2- 1] ]
dessLienccs naturallespublished by Nlagdelaine<ieSaint-Agy,states
that the history of science"subjects the human mind to experi- Hi storical Epi stcmol oBy
ment . , , makesnn experinrentalthcory of thc human spirit." Such -fo undcrstandthe function and nrcaningof thc historv of
[12]
a conception is tantanlountto nrodelingthc rclation bctrveenthe sci ence,one can cont r astt hc im ageof t hc labor at or yu'it h t har
history of scienceand the science of which it is the history on of a school or t r ibunal, t hat is, an inst it ut ion nher e judgm ent is
the relation betr"een the sciencesand the objects of rvhich thev passedon either the p.rstof kno','ledge or knorvledgeof the past.
are scirnccs.But cxperimentationis onlv one ofthe rvaysin rvhich B ut i fiudgnr cnt is t o be passcd,a juclgeis essenr ial.Epist em ol-'
science relates to objects, and it is not self-evidentthat rhis is ogy pr ovides a pr inciple on r vhich jur lgm ent can be based:ir
the relevantanalogvfor understandinghistorv'srelation to its ob, i
tt'achesthe historian the lantuage spolien at sonre point in thc
jcct. Furthcrmorc,in drc handsof its recent champion,the meth-
evolution of a particularscientilic discipline, sav,chcmistry.-l he

1!
4l
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his t or ian t h e n ta k e s th a t k n o u J t' d g ea n d searchcsbackl rarrli n note that Krrrr!and Bachelardrvereintcrcstedin diflcrent periods
t im e unt il t h c l a te r rtc .rb u l a rvc e a s e sto b e i ntcl l i gi bi e, or unti i i n tht' hist on ot t lr e e\ act scicnct 's.Fur t hcr m or e,t hese pcr i( ) ( ls
it c.rn no longer bc transl.rtt'dinto the lessrigorous lt'xicon oIan rverenor cquallv equippcd to deal ntathcmaticallvrvith the prob-
ear li. : r pc r io d . A n to i n c -l -a u re n t L a v o i s i e r,fbr cxanrpl e,i ntro- lems ol physics.Kovre began rvith Copernicusand ended 11ith
rluced a nelr. nomcnclature inlo chemistry. Ilcnce, the language Nervton, u here Bachelardbegan.Kcrvri:'scpistemologicalobser-
s pok c n bl c h e m i s tsa ftc r L a v o i s i e rp o i n t s up semanti (:gaps i n vationstcnd to confirm Bachelard'svieu, that a "continuist" his-
t he ) anguag eo l e a rl i e rp ra c ti ti o n c rs .l t h a snot been suffi ci entl y torv of scienct 'ist he hist or l of a young science.Kovr c believer l.
notice(l or admirc(l that Lavoisier,in the "Discours preliminaire" for i nst ance,t hat scienceis t heor v and t hat t heor l is f ir nclam en-
tohis frotti ilimentairede chimie,rssunreclfull responsibiJitrlbr tal l v mat hcnr , r t iz.t ion.
r ( G alileo, lbr exanr pJe,is m or e Ar clt i-
t r v o dc c is io n sth a t l e tt h i m o p e n to c ri ti c i sm: " revi si ng the l an- m(' (l eant han Plat onist . )He alsc'helclt hat cr r or is inelit ablc in
gu.rqcspokenby our teachers"and failing to provide ".rnv histori-, the pur suit of scient if lc t r ut h. To sr ud\ t he hist or v of a t heor v is
cal .r,.:count
ofthe opinions ofmy predcccssors."It r"as,rsthough to studv the historv of thc theorist'sdoubts. "Copernicus. . . ttas
he understood the lesson of l]escartes,that to institute a ne\r' not a Copernican,"
branch of knorvledgeis in efli'ct to severone's ties to $'hatever The hist or v of sciencet hus claim s t hc r ight t o m akc judg-
had plesumptivelvusurpcd its place. mcnts ol'scientific value.Bv ".iudgmcnt,"horvcvcr,I do not mcan
Thcrc are in fact trvo versionsofthe histon ofscicnce: thc his- purgc o r execut ion.I list or v is not an in'er t ed im agcof scient if ic
t or l o1' obso l e te
k n o u l c d g ea n d th c h i s to r v ofsancti onedknou l - progrc ss,lt is not . r por t r ait in per spect ive.t vit h t r anscended
edge, bv which I mcan knon le<lgethat plavsan rctive Idtirrdnr] doctrines in the lc,regroundlntl todav'struth u,avolfar thc "van-
role in its o\1.ntime. Without epistemologvit is intpossibleto i shi ng p oint . " I t is, r at her ,an ef t ir r t t o cliscovcrand expl. r in t o
distinguish betrveenthe two. Gaston Bachclarriwas the first to 'w'hatextent discrcdited notions, attitudes or mcthods rvere, in
make this distinction.22His dccisionto recount the historv ofsci- their day,uscd to discredit othcr notions, attitudesor method5-
ent if ic ex pe ri me n tsa n d c o n c e p tsi n th e l i g ht ofthe l atestsci en- and therclbrean ef-fortto discoverin \\'hatrcspectsthe discredited
tilic plinciples haslong sincedenonstrated its u.orth. pastrcmainsthe past(]1an activitr that still desenesto be callcd
A I e> , anc l re
Ko v re ' si d e a o fth e h i s to ry o fsci encc rvasbasi cal l v sci entilic. lt is as im por t ant t o under st aD(uhat
l t he past t aught
simil.rr to Bachelard's.True, Kol re's epistemologvrr'ascloser to as it is to fin<lout rr h\' \r'eno longerbelielc in its )essons.IFru,/cr,
Emile Meverson'sthan to Bachclard's,and morc kecnlr attunecl
P P .ll-l + l
to the continuitv ofthe raticrnalfunction than to rhe dialcctics
of rationalist activitv. Yet it uas becausehe recognizedthe role Empiricist Logicism
of epistemologvin doing historv ofscicncc that he casthis Etuder calls"nor -
[13] It is easrt' o dist inguishbet wcen \ lhat Bachelar cl
5lalildennes anclTheAstronomicalRcvolutionin the lbrm that he did. mal i tv"] l and r vhatThom as Kuhn calls "nor m al scicnce. "r alhc
ls t ht ' dati n g 3 l ,a n " e p i s re m o J o g i c abl reak" a conti ngent or tvro epist r r r r olulit . , 1. ,. har , r r r t ain l'r iint . in . om m on: in lir -
s ubjec t iv eju d g mc n t?T o s e eth .rt th e a n s u eri s no, one l eed onl v ti cul ar, t ht ' ot r scr r at iont hat scicnt if ic t er t books over em phasiue

4t
the continuit\ of scientific research.Both stressthe discontinu- nalism is a rvav of writing the historv of sciencebv describinga
ous naturc of progress.Nevertheless,while the fundamentalcon- set of events,which are called"scientific" fbr reasonshavingmore
cepts sharea l.rmily resenrblance,they do not really belong to to do u,ith tradition than with critical analysis,in terms of their
the samebranch. This has been notcd by Father FranqoisRusso, relation to econolnic and socialinterests.technologicalncedsand
who, despitereservations about the claimsofsuperiority to which practices,and religious or political idcologies. In short, this is
epistemologicalhistoriansare somerimespronc. arguesthat Kuhn an attenuatedor, rather, impoverishedversion of l\'larxism,one
is m is t ak e na b o u t th e n a tu re o fs c i e n ti fic rari onal i tvas such.25 rather conrmoDtoda) in the ruorld'smore plosperoussocietit's.17
Though ostensiblvconccrned to preserveKarl Popper'sempha- fint"r.rulism (rvhich
extcrnalistscharacterizeas "i<Jealism")is the
sis on the necessityof theory and its prioritv over experiment, vier.l'that there is no history of scicnceunlessonc placesoncsclf
Kuhn is unablt' to shakeoff the legacv of logical positivism and w i thi n t he scient if ic endeavorit self in or der t o analvzet he pr o-
join the rationalist camp, w-herehis kev concepts of"paradigm" ceduresby rvhich it seeksto satisflythe specific norms that allou,
and "normal science"rvould seem to place him. Theseconcepts it to be defined as sciencerather than as technologt or ideologv.
Presupposeintentionality and regulation,and assuch they imply In thi s per spect ive.t he hist or ianof scienccis supposedt o adopt
t he pos s ib i i i tyo fa b re a k w i th e s ta b l i s hedrul es and procedures. a theor et icdlat t it ude t owar d his specim ent heor ies;he t her elbr c
Kuhn *'ould havethem play this role r".ithoutgranting them thc hasas much right to formulate modcls and hvpothcsesas scicn-
meansto do so, fbr he regardsthem as simple cultural f)cts. For tists thcmselves.
hinr, a paradignris thc result of a choice bI its users.Nornral sci- Clearlv,both the internalistand erternalist posirionsconflate
encc is dcfincd by the practice in a given petiod of a group of' the object of t hc hist or v of sciencen'it h t he object oI a scien( e.
specialistsin a universityresearchsetting. Insteadofconccpts of' The extemalistseesthe historvofsciencc asa mattcr of explaining
philos ophi c a cl ri ti q u c , rrt' a re d e a l i n grv i th mere soci alpsvchol - cul tura l phenom ena t er m sof t he cult ur al m ilieu; he t hcr elor e
ogv. This accountsfor the embarrassmentevident in the appen- confus est he hist or l 'n
of sciencer vit h t he nat ur alistsociologt of
dix to the secondedition ofthe Srrucrureof ScientilicRevolutions institutions and f;ils to intcrpret the truth claims intrinsic to sci-
when it comes to answeringthe question of hou' the truth of a enti fi c discour se,The int er nalistseest hc f act sof t hc hist or v of
tlreory is to br undcrstocrd.lldeolog.rond Rotionality,pp. l2-l3l sci ence,such as inst anccsof sinr ult ancousdiscovcr l ( ol'm odcr n
calculus, lbr examplc, or the law ofconservation oIenergv), as
Internalism ond Externolism facts rvhose historv cannot be urittcn without a theorv. -fhus,
[ ] 41 How d o e s o n e rl o th c h i s to rv o l s c i ence.and how shoul d a fi ct in t he hist or r of science is t r cat ed as a f ict of scicnce, a
one do it? This question raisesanorher: wlat is the histon of sci- procedureperf'ectlvcompatible with an epistcmologyaccording
, nc c a, his t .ryo f r" ,\n y a rrth o na p p a rc n r l lrakc rhe answ erro rhi s to r" hich t heor y r ight f ullv t akes pr ior it v over cnpir ical dat a.
s ec ondquc rti o n l o r' g ra n trd , to j u d g e h v r he fact Ihar ther rrever IE rudc s,pp. l4- 15]
c x plic it ly a s k i t. T a k e , fb r e x a m p l c , th e debatesbetrveenw hat
English-spcaking u,riterscall internalistsand extemalists.26 Exter-

4{' 47
C n r pr l n - f u n r r

The Hist or y of t he Hist or y of Science

A History of Precursors
[15] Every theorv is rightlv expected to providc proofi ol prac-
tical cfficacv.What, then, is thc practical eflect lbr thc historian
ofsci cnce of a t heor v whosc cf ' ct is t ( ) m ake hisdisciplinc t he
place u.hcrc the theoretical qucstions raist'd bv scientilic prac-
tice are studiedin an cssentiallvautonomousmannt'r?C)neimpor-
tant practicalelfect is the climinati()nof \\'hatJ.T.Clark hascalle'd
" the precur sorvir us. "r sSt r jct ly speaking,il pr ecur sor scxist ed,
the historv ol sciencervould losc all meaning,sincc scicncc itsclf
uoul d m cr elv appeart o havea hist or icalclim ension.
Consi<icrthe u'ork of AlexarrdrcKovre. Kovre contrasted,on
\ epistemologicalgrounds,thc "closed world" ofantiquitv u ith the
"infinite universe"of modcrn times. ll it h.rd bccn possiblelbr
some ancient pr ecur sort o haveconceivedof "t hc inlinit e uni-
vcrse" before its timc, then Kovr6's r't'holcapproachto the his-
torv ofscience anrl idcas rroulclmake no scnsc.t')
A precursor,rvc arc told, is a thinker or rcscarcheruho pro-
ceeded some distancealong a path later crplortd all the \\'av to
its cnd br someoneelse. To lotrk lbr, find and cclebrate precur-
sors i s a sign of cor nplacencvand an unm ist ak. r blcslm pt om of
incompctcncc fbr epistemologicalcriticism. Trvo itinerariescan-
Ferchault de R6aumurand Maupertuis as precursorsof Mendel
not be comparedunlessthe paths lolloned are truly the same.
rvithout noticing that the prob)em that Mendel set himself rvas
In a coherent sYstcmof thought, ever) concept is related to
ofhis or.r.ndevising.or that he solvedit bv inventingan unprc'ce-
everyother conccpt. Just becauseAristarchusol Samosaduanced
dented concept, the independcnthereditarvcharacter.ll
the hypothesisol a heliocentric universe,it does not follow that
So long as texts and other *'orks yoked rogether by the heu-
he rvasa precursorof Copernicus,even ifCopernicus invokcd his
ristic compression of time have not been subjected ro critical
authoritl'. To changethe center of reterenceof celesti.rlnrotions
anal ys isf or t he pur pose of explicit ly dem onst r at ing t har r $'o
is to relativizehigh and lo*r',to changethe dinensions of the uni-
resear cher ssought t o answ'erident ical quest ionsf or ident ical
verse- in short, to constitutc a system,But Copernicuscriticized
reasons,using ident ical guiding concept s,def ined b, r ident ical
all astrononricalthr:oricsprior to his ou'n on rhe groundsthat thev
sl stems,t hen, insolaras an aut hcnt ic hisr or y of science is con-
wer e not ia ti o n a l s y s tc m s .l 0A p rc c u rs o r,i t i s sai d, bel ongsto
cerned, it is completelv artificial, arbitrary and unsatisfactorvro
more than one age: he is, of course, a man of his own time, but
say that one man finished what the other started or anricipated
he is simult.rneously
a contemporarYof'later in!estigatorscredited
rvhat the other achieved.Bv subsritutingthe Jogicaltime oftruth
rvith conrpietinghis unfinishedproject. A precursor,theretbre,is
relationsfor thc historicaltime of these relations'invention, one
a thinker \1hom thc historian belicvcscan be extracted liom his
trcats the history of scienceas rhough it wcre a copy ol science
c ult ur al m ili e u a n d i n s e rte di n to o th e rs .1 'hi sprocedureassumcs
and its object a copv of the object of science.The resuit is the
t hat c onc ep ts ,d i s c o u rs c ss. p c c u l a ti o rrs
a n d e\peri ments can be ,i
creation o[an artif;ct, a countcrfeit historical objrct - the pre-
shiftedfioru one intellectualenvironmcntto another.Suchadapt-
cursor. In Koyr!'srvtrrdsr
ability, of course, is odhned at the cost of ncglccting the ,,his-
t or ic it v " ol th e o b j e c t u n d e r s tu d v . H o rv manv hi stori ans,fbr
Thc notion ol a "lirrerunncr"is.r.r'erydangerous
onc for thc histo-
example, have looked lirr precursorsof D,rrrviniantransfbrmism
rian. lt is no doubt frue thar idcashavc.r gucriindependcnt
dcvel
amongeighteenth-cenrury naturalists,philosophersanrlevtn jour-
opmenl,that is to say,theyarebornin onc mind,andreachmaturity
nalis t s ?lrT he l i s t i s l o n g .
to bearliuit in anothcr;consequentlvt the historyol prolrlemsand
Louis Dutens's Rcchcrches
surI'orininerjesdicouvertes
attribudes their solut ionscanbc t r aced.lt is cqual) vr r ue t har t hc hisr or icnl
(1176) nr.rybe taken asan (admirtedlvextreme)case
ou\ modernes
importance
ofa doctrineis measurcd
by its lruitfulness,
andchatlater
in point. When Dutens \r'ritesthat Hippocratesknerv about the
gcncrations
arenot concerned
rvith thosethat prcccdcthemexcept
circulation of the Lrlood,and that thc Ancients possessed
the sys- in so far ls thevseein thcm their "ancestors"
or "forerunners."
It is
tem of Copcrnicus, rvc smiler he has lbrgotten all that Wiilia[r
quite obvious1orshouldbe) that ncr-one hascvcrregarded himsell
Harveyorvcd to Rcnaissance anatomvand mechanicalmodels,and
asthe "firrerunner"ofsomeoneclse,nor beenablcto do so.Consc-
he fails to credit Copcrnicus'soriginality in exploring the math-
qucntlv.to regardanyonein this light is the bestwavof prcventing
ematical possibility of the earth'smovemenr.We ought to srrile
oneselffrom undcrstandinghim.Ji
iust as much at the nlorc rcccnt lvriters who hail Ren6 Ancoine

to
A precursoris a man of sciencervho, one linorvsonlv much later, lrom De functionibuss,ystematis ne.vo.ri,and concltrdcd that thc
ran aheaclofall his contemporariesbut before the person \{hom cntirc theory of thc reflex action inherent in the spinalcord rr.as
one takesto bc the winner ol the race.To ignore the lict that he there "prefbnlred and preestablished"(pniforn;rt und pnisLab;lirt).
is the creaturcol a certain historv ofscience, and not an agentof Although not interestedin investig.itingu hether Hall and Mrillcr,
scientiflc progress,is to accept asreal the condition ofhis possi- rvho may not have kno$,n Prochaska'srvork dircctlv, might havc
bilitv, namcly,the imaginarvsimultaneityof "belbre" an<i"afier" been inlluenccd bv rvorclof it filterecl through "the scientific
in a sort of logical spacc. milieu ofhis contcmporaricsand cpigoncs"(rn diegleichzeitige
und
I n m ak i n g th i s c ri ti q u e o f a fa l s e h i stori cal obj ect, I have epillonische l\blt trcnspitittc),leitteles askshorv this
wissenschaJtliche
sought to justifv by countcrcxamplcthc conccpt I havcproposed lork could have been ignorcd for so long. [{is ansrver,u.hich
accorclingto rvhich thc historl of sciencedcflncs its object in seemsj u dicious t o m c, is t hat Albr echt von Haller 'saut hor it v is
it s o$n int ri n s i c te rm s . T h c h i s to rv o l s ci cncci s not a sci cncc, a sufficient explanation.Thc theory of irritabilit), of a strcngth
anr l it r c , bi c c ti s n o r a .c i l q i l i r ,' h i e c t. To Jo hi storv oIsci encc inherentin the muscle,divertedattention from the intrinsic func-
( in t h. m , r rt u p rrrri v e s e n i F ,' f rh . v rrb " to rJo" 1i s one ol ' rhe tions ofthe spinalcord.'l-his onlv makesf'rochaska'smerit a]l the
lLnc t ions ( a n d n o t th c e a s i e s t)o f p h i l o s ophi calepi stemol ogv. more apparent:rather than rchcarscthe ideasof thc pcriod, his
rvork cont r adict ed t hem . The f inal lincs of t hc ar t iclc ar c an
[Etudes,pp. 20-2 3]
appeal to some generoushistorian to revive the great Prochaska
A History in the Service ol Politics as a model for firture generations.Jeittelesthought that the man

[ 16] I t r v a si n 1 8 5 8 th a t a n e u p o l e m i c, i ni ti ated thi s ti me by to do this $as the current occupant of Prochaska'scllajr at thc
Ceorge Prochaska's grovling rcnoun, resulte<J in l)escartes's namc vcncra blcand celebr at cdUnivcr sit v of Pr aguc,t hc "i] lust r ious
being brought into the history of thc reflex fbr the first time. Thc forerunnerofall German universities."That man \l'asthe distin-
occasionrvasan article bv A.L. Jcittr:lcs,a prof'essorof medicine gui sheclphysiologistJanPur kinje( 1787- 1869) .
at Olmiitz, cntitled l4lhols the Fountlerol the Theorr ol Rellet The im pct uosit yof t his plca, r vhich nat ur allyand pat hct icallv
,Movement?)a leittclcs summarizedMarshalltlall's first paper,said combincs a claim for thc originalitv of a scholaru.ith an afllrma-
a flrv uorcls about Hall's prioritv ovcr JohannesMrillcr, ackno$l- tion of the cultural valuesol an oppressednationality,is equaled
edgc<lthc grcat value of both men's nork, vct claimed that the only bv the brutalitv anclinsolenceofthe replv it receivedfl.oman
im pet us f or re s e a rc hi n to re fl e x a c ti o n came l rom el se.rvhcrc, ollicial representative,not to savhigh priest, ol German phvsiol-
liom an carlicr timc, and fiom anothersource."lt uas none other ogy. E m ile Du Bois- Revm ond( 1818- 1896)N{r
, iller 'sst udentand
than our cminent, and todav insullicientlv honorcd, compatriot, successor
in t hc chair of phvsiologvat t he Univer sit vof Bcr lin -
Georgc Prochaska,lho richlv deservesto be prcscrvcd in the u,ho becamea member ofthe Berlin Academyol Sciencesin 1851
eternallygratcfLl mcmory of our Czcchfatherlancl,
so rich in supc- anclrvho rvasalreadycclcbratcd not onlv lbr his work in neuro-
rior men of cvcry kind." feittelesassertedthat Prochaskarvasthc muscularelectrophysiologybut also lbr his numerousprofessions
true lbunclerof thc thcor_vofreflex movemcnt, quoted excerpts of phi l osophical liit h in t hc univcr salvalidit l of m cchanist ic

52 tl
determinism and the inanity ofmetaphysicalquestionsls- sum- in diminishing Prochaska,Du Bois-Revmondlr'asreallv trving to
marilv disrnissedProchaskaand gave l)escartescredit fbr har'- discredit a group ofbiologists manifcstlyguilty in his eyesofthc
ing had the qenius to anticipate both thc ovordand the idea of sin of metaphysics, n.rmelv, the Na turphilosophieschool.
" r ef lex . " I n a c o m m e m o ra ti v ea d d re s sd el i ueredat thc ti me of Du Bois-Reymond's1858 text rvaspublished in 1887 in thc
M iillc r ' s de a th i n 1 8 5 8 , fi B o l s -R e y m o n < J statcd that he had sccond volume of his Rerlenalong with explanatory notes. The
{bun<f(wie ich gelundenfiabe) that Descartes,roughly a century of Descarteson u,hich Du Bois-
notcs concerning tlre passages
and a hal[befbre Prochaska,had correctly descritredref]ex rtove- Reymond basedhis comments are particularlv r';luable lbr our
meDt (er.rfcnrbeschrieb...
Descartes...dic Rcllexbc$,egungcn vbllig are fronr Arriclt 1J of
purposes;alsonrc ol the relevant passages
fichtig\: he had used thc same analogr'(u ith reflection) to de- The Possions
ol the Soul,rvhere thc palpebralreflex is described.

I
scribe the phenomenon;and he also deservedcredit {br thc Iaw I must point out t hat Du Bois- Reym ondm akesno dist inct ion
of periphera)manifestationof senseimpressions.l6 The passages between a description and a definition, and that it is rather dis-
that precedeand follow theselines on Descartesgive a clear indi- ingenuousof him to reproachProchaska,as he does in one note,
cation of Du Bois-Reymond's intention. It lvas,first ofall, to pro- for havingused the sameexampleas Descartes.It would be laugh-
tect Miiller's "copvright," as it n'ere: Mriller mav not havcknow'n able to maintain that CharlesScott Sherringtonsh,.ruldnot harrc
about Desclrtes,but Prochaskarvasanother matter. If Prochaska studied the "scratch reller" becauseit meant borrorving from
lr,'asnot thc t)ther of the notion of rcflex, then he himself f'ell Thoma s Willis. I n anv c. r se,Pr ochaskar vasan opht halm ologist
under the shadorvof rhc judgment proposed in his name.rgainst and, str ict lv speaking.had no nccd oI Dcscar t est o knor v t hat
Furthermore,Descartes\1ns,accordingto Du Bois-
his successors. there is such. r t hing as involunt ar y occlusion ol t hc cyc) ids. al
Revnrond,a selllconsciousmechanist phvsiol,rgist,a theorist of The secondtext of Descartes'scited bv Du Bois-Revrnondis Ar-
the aninr.rl-machine, and therefbre deserring ol the sameadmi- ol the Sou1.Although it does contain the
ticfe 16 of lle Possions
ration erten(lcd to Julien Offrav de La Mr:ttrie, the theorist of expression"espri* riJly'chis"(reflcctcd spirits), this expression,
the man-machine,lT By contrast,Prochaska lvasa vagueand incon- unique in Descartes'swork, is used to explainthe mechanismof a
sistentthinkcr in whose mind the notion ofrellex rvasassociated form ofbehavior that is not a reflex in the strict senseof the word.
rvith that crf consensus nervorum,an anatomical myth of animist lf, in fhct, Du Bois-Revmondis right to contend that Prochaska
ins pir at ion .ri In d e e d ,i f Pro c h a s k ah a d fbrmul atcdthe pri nci pl e did not knorv rvhat hc rvasdoing whcn he devotedpagt'.rtterpage
of the reflection of scnseimpressionsin 1784,he f)iled to men- ofhis Comnrcntdfiono1 178-lto thc "rcflcction" ofsensorv into
tion it in his Phrsiolo<tic
oder Lehrevonder Natur des,ltenschen
in motor impressions,rvhatare Ke to say,applying thc sanl('ciiter-
l820, t t F in a l l y ,Pro c h a s k ad i d n o t k n o u w hat hc rvasdoi ng the ion of judgnr('r')t,about an author who usesa pair of rvordsonly
first tinre he had the opportunity to descrilrecorrcctly thc reflec- once?lFormationdu ftllcxc, pp. 138-a0]
t ion of s en s ei mp re s s i o n sAs
. fo r M i ]l e r's contcmporari es,the [17 ] We t her elbr c im put e t o Du Bois- Revm oncl,at his r e-
onlv author rvho might justly bc creditedu'ith prir.rritvoverMrillcr quest, f ull r esponsil>ilit vf or his hist or ical discovely. ll- I have
rvasHall, and that $.asa prioritv of tu'o months.r0lt mav be that du,elt on the details of this controversv,it is becauseit enables

t5
us at last to establishthe prccise origin of the rvidelv acceptecl voice ofone of its official representativcs, dcfentledits political
vicrv that paternitv ol-both the rvorcl"reflcx" and some rudimen- supcrior it yof t he m om ent againstanot hercult ur e. O nc philoso-
tarv vcrsion ol thc idea can bc traced back to Derscartes,
a vierv phy ol lif e, const r aincd r vit hin t he t r am cr vor kof a biological
that Franklin Fearing,as we haveseen,rrpcats scveraltimes, but researchmetho(1,treatedanothcrphilosophvasa mvthologl allcg-
u.hosr'origins hc neverexamines.+lAlong rvith thc origin of the edly incapable of fbstering ef'fectivescientiflc rcsearch. It was
as s er t ion,r,r' ch a v ed i s c o v e re di ts m e a n i ng.A s fbr the ci rcum- mechanismagainstvitalism. llormation du rdflerc,p. 155]
stanccs.I)u Bois-Revmond'saddresswas mcant as a rebuke to a
Cz ec h pr ofc s s o ri n s u fl i c i e n tl y p e rs u a dedo1 the supcri ori tv of A Cononical History
( ic r m an c iv i l i z a ti o n . Bu t a s fa r a s i ts s c ienti {i c i mpl i cati onsarc
[19] An cmpcror's rvish to glorifv and justilv nervacaclernic insti-
concerned, this addresscan bc attributcd to a concern - a con- tuti ons lcd t o a new depar t ur ein t hc hist or v of science.ln 1807
cern, that is, on the part of a phvsiologistfbr rvhom "scicntism" Napoleon I ordered a report on the progressthat had becn madc
did dutv lbr philosophy- to discover,in Descartes's allcgul antici- in sciencesince 1789.GcorgesCuvier, as permancntsccrctarvol
pation ol a discovcrvthat u'asbeginning to justify a mcchanistic ct Nat ur cllessince 1801,
the Ins t it ut pour les SciencesPhvsiques
intcrpretation of a u hole rangc o{ psvchophvsiologicalphenom- w as assigncdr csponsibilit v lbr t he Acpor rt hat r r . asevent uallv
ena, a guarantccand, in a sense,an authcnticationol the use that publishedin 1810,r,v'hile.lcanBaptisteJosephDelambrc\l'asmade
people nou proposcd to make ofit. lt was not so much for rea- rcsponsiblelbr a similar report on thc mathematicalscienccs.Thc
sonsof purc phvsiologvasfor reasonsof philosophvthat Descartcs authoritiescoulclpride themselvcson havingfbund a nerv Bemard
rvasanointed a grcat phvsiologistand illustrious precursor.IIor- Le Bouvicr Fontenelle,a man capableof strpplcmcntingthe vearlv
mationdu iflc\e, pp. l,+1-42] analvsesof the rvork of thc aca(lemv\rith eulogies of<lcccased
[ 18] I n th e h i s to rv o f th e c o n c c p t o f the rel l ex, verv di ffr:r- acade m icians.But ant onc *ho *oulcl exam inet hc hist or v of a
ent circumstanccsand moti\.ationsaccount fbr the appearanccof lif'edevotedto researchmust considerothcr, similar researchcon-
I)cscartes,Willis, JeanAstruc and Prochaska,rvith JohannAugust tcmporary rvith, or prior to, that of his subject. Ancl rvhen onc
Unzer gcncrallybeing left shroudcdin shadou.I'rochaska'snamt: has receiveda Germanic c(luc.-rtion- an education that rvas,in
came up in the course of a polemic bctu'een Marshall I lall and Fl enryl) ucr ot ay de Blainvillc'swor ( ls,"encyclopedicand philo-
c c r t ain of h i s c o n te m p o ra ri c s ,a p o l e mi c that gradual l vturned logical"rl - one could conceiveofgiving a "course in the history
into rvhat is conrmonlv called a settling ofscores. The storv bc- of natur al sciencc. " And u. hcn one had chosen,as Cuvier had
I ongs ,alon g w i th c o u n tl e s so th e r ta l e so fri val ry betrveensci cn- toward the end of his studiesat thc C.rroline-'\cademvin Stutt-
t if ic c ot er i e s , to th e a n e c d o ta lh i s to ry o fsci encc. D escartes' s gart, to st udr -"cam er alist ics, "or t he scienceof adm inist r at ion
nam c c am e u p i n th e c o u rs eo f a d i a tri b c agai nstone dcad man and economics,45it rvasonlv natural to dcvotc spaceto technol-
lor the apparcnt purpose ofhonoring anothcr. In fact, it u.asa ogy in onc's rcport to thc empcror and to adumbratea thtorv cll
m at t er of li q u i d a ti n ga n o p p o s i ti o n ,o r e v en- rl ,henone l ooks at the social statusofmodcrn scicncc in tlrc l8l6 R/f.le.rions rrr /a
it c los elv- tu o o p p o s i ti o n s .On e c u l tu re , speaki ngrhrough the morcheactuelletlest.ien(c\ et r leursropportsavecla sociiti, as ucll

57
as in thc DiscouruJur l'(itat de I'histoite naturellect sur sesaccroisse' living things, and to appreciatingthe cflects of seventeenth-cen-
mentsdepuisle retour de la pdix maitime (1824). The reader of tury ph ilosophieson t he developm entof t hat science.Cuvier
volume three of the Histoiredessciences noturellesis not surprised, the scienccsif it disposesminds
thinks that philosophyencourages
t hen, t o f in d th a t th c fi rs t l e c tu re i s d evoted to a remi nder, toward observation but discouragesthe sciencesif it disposcs
inspired by the Marquis de Condorcet in the Esgursse
of 1794,of WhereverAristotle's method, based
minds toward speculation.16
the debt that modern scicncc owes to the technologicalinnova- on experience, was adopted, the sciencesprogressed,rvhereas
t ions of t he fb u rte e n th a n d fi fte e n th c e nturi es: al cohol , cl ear Descarteschose the opposite path, and the regrettable conse-
glass,papcr,artillery, printing, the compass.In the samelecture, quencesof that choice lasteduntil the middle of thc eighteenth
Cuvier, a Protestantand the official within the ministry of the centurv, *'hen the scienceswere countered by "another philoso-
interior responsiblefor overseeingnon-Catholic religious wor- phy that was a copv of the true Peripateticismand that hasbeen
s hip, c ould n o t h e l p n o ti c i n g th c c n c o u ragementand support called the philosophl'ol the eighteenthcentqv <tr of the slepdcr."
that men of learning had fbund in the Relbrnationr freedom of A rather sweepingjudgment, it might seem,although it wascur-
thought and the gradual emancipation of philosophy from sub- rent at the time in one form or another. Blainvilleand Maupied's
servienceto theologicaldoctrine, judgment is equally broad, as well as considerablymore prolix:
Blainvillc and Franqoisl-ouis Michel Maupied's Histoircdes Descartes,Bacon and all the others (src), they say,are merelv
sciencesde I'organisationet de leurcprogris, conme basede Ia philo- the logical consequence,the elaboration,of Aristotleia?Bacon's
sophieis constructed on the basisof diametrically opposedjudg- philosophy is nothing but Aristotle's;a8Descartcsrvorked in an
ments. To bc sure, thc chaptcr dcvotcd to Conrad Gesnerrecalls Aristoteliandirection;aeDescartesbuilt on the u.ork of the great
the positive contributions of technology to Renaissance
science Stagirite;t0and so on. What is the significanceof our tu-o his-
(vol. 2, pp. 134-35),but immediatelythereafterthe Reformation torians' fiscination n ith Aristotle? The ansrverto this question,
is denouncedlbr "reviving the unfortunatereactionsthat we have I think, determines what view thc history of science ought tcr
previouslyseenarisingout ofvariousstrugglesofthe human spirit, take of Blainville and Maupied's project. The first step to\4ard
applyingmethod rvithout authority to the explication ofdogma" answeringit, moreover,must come from a final comparisonrvith
(p. 136). Becauseofthe friendshipbetu'eenthe principal author Cuvier's Histoire.
and those trvo cultural agitators,Biainvillcand Maupied,the work The third lecture in Cuvier'sthird volume is clevotedto Leib-
contains numerous passagcs
conccrning thc rclation o[ the sci- niz, and Cuvier drvells at length on thc grcat chain of being and
encesand their teachingto the ne\v social needsof an emcrging on CharlesBonnet'sdevelopmentof this [.eibniziantheme.Cuvier
industrialsocietv,but theseexcursesalmostalwaysend in sermons. statesthat "physiologvdoes not fbllovumathematicsin admitting
t...1 unlimited combinations,"and that, in ordcr to accept the notion
Blainville anclMaupied's Histoireis also different from, even that there existsa continuouschain of beings,as Bonnet and oth-
cliametricallvopposedto, that of Cuvier llhen it comes both to ers do, or that beingscan be arrangcdalonga singleline, one must
cletermining the method, or ways and means,of the scienceof havea very incomplete view ofnature's organization,5l"l hope,"

58
t
Cuvicr says,"to have provcn that this ststcm is false,"tr alluding ending finally rvith man, proclaimedto be the "master" of all that
to rvhat hc knou'shc hasclemonstrated through comparativeanat- $.ent befbre. Norv, it so happensthat therc is a Wcstern philoso-
omv and paleontologv,namclv, that thcre is no unitv of organic pher ofGreek antiquity rvho rvasable to rcaclthat orcler,r'hich
gr ac lat ion,n () u n i tv o fs tru c tu ra l p l a n , n o uni ty of composi ti on was unknown to EasternmvthoJogvrthat philosophcr u'asAris-
and no unitv o f tv p e , totl e, "u. ho under st oodt hat t hcr c is in nat ur e a collect ion of
Norv,if Blainville,fbr his part, acknolr,ledges five distinct tvpes groups,anrl that eachgroup fbrmsa veritableseriesrvhosedegrees
of c r c at ion , h e n e v e rth c l c s sa rg u e sth a t thcv are arrangecli n a passimperceptiblv fiom onc to thc other, fiom the most imper-
scrics, r.:achone trcing the distinct exprcssionof a general plan fi:ct to thc ont: in rvhich life achievedits highest perfection.";6
1
u,hoscprogressiveor regressivcorder, il one Iooks at the level of Af!:tqtl-C_i-S9S!,clearlr',rvasto achioe Inorvlrdgr,,f man r.ganl-
].uz
thc specicsfor graclationsand degradationsthat ought to applv i ng al l thosc aspcct st hat m ake him super ior t o t he anim als,a I
only t o gc nc ra ,d o e sn o t p ro c c c d $ ' i rh o u t apparenrhi atus.Ifthe bei ng possessing a t ouch of t he divine. t l
numerouspapers,rcportsand dissertationspublishedbl Blainville This kev to readingthc forms of lifi: givesus the kev to rea<Jing
can bc seen as the a postcrioriof his zoological system,then thc tslainvilleand Maupied'sHistoirc.That kcv is thc notion of "mca-
a prioi is described in his Hisroirc des sciences
de l'organisationas surc," an absolutc tcrm of rcferenceand comparison."l\'leasure"
an a ptioti not of rational intuition but ofdivine rcvclation.This is a rvord that rccurs ficqucntly in the Ilisroirc.The measureof
afflrmation can bc read in the Introduction, signedbv Blainville organi z edbeingsin t heir ser ialclisposit ionis m an. 58Anr l it *as
himselfi "l conccivedand carricd out m\ llistoircde I'otganisation bccauscAr ist ot lt 'm adr m an t he m easur eof anim alit v t hat Ar is-
as a possiblc founclationlbr philosophv,whilc at the same timc totle himself is thc mcasureof truth fbr thc scriesof investiga-
clcmonstratingthat philosophv is one and the same thing as the ti ons that t ook anim alsas t heir object . Thr ough t hc ccnt r r r ics
Christian religion, rvhich is so to speakonlv an a prtori, rcvcaled A ri stotle is t he m easur eof t lr e sciencesof or ganizat ion.[ . . . ]
to man bv God himself rvhcn the state of socictv required it."eJ Norv that we possessthc kcv to the Histoire desstienccsde
And flrther: "Scicncc in general is knorlledge a posterioriof the wc can un(lcrstan(l*hv ccrtain authors were in-
I'orSTonisation,
existcnceol God through his,w,orks."5q cl uded in t he book r vhile ot her s ner e excludecl.Unlike eclcc-
llorv, then, does kno*lcdge proceed?Through readtng,The ti cs such as Cuvier ( r vho u. asf r er ; uent lvchar act er izedas such,
preliminary analysisofzoological notions at thc bcginning ofvol- both sc icnt if icallyand polit icallv5e)Blainville
, baseclhis choices
ume thrce conflrms this unambiguously:"C)ne does not crcate on an explicit critcrionr "ln this historva numbcr of cminent men
in scicnce,one readsllhat is created.Thc pretensionto createis stand as landmarksol scientific progrcss.I chosc them because
abs ur d,ev en i n th c g re a te s tg e n i u s c s ." ;5
In vi rtuc of thi s heuri s- thci r or vn nor k and t he u. or k of t hcir legit im at e pr edecessor s
tic imperative,thc scicnccsoforganizationshoulclbe atrlc to dis- ptrshedscienccin the right direction and rvith an impctus appro-
cover - that is, to read in thc structuresand functions of living pri ateto t he age" ( voi. 1, pp. viii- ix) .
beings- onlv u hat the Book of Genesisallirms about the orclcr t hc hist or v of t hc scicnceol or ganizat ionis
C on se<1uent lv,
of t hos e bei n g s ' c rc a ti o n ,i n th c \\' a te rs i, n the ai r and on earth, governcdbv the firndamental,rvhich is to sav,divine, larr o{ the
OF IHE H

organizationof organisms- the ascendingseries.Blainville, bv uraf sciences,a complement to that author's Gdniedu christianisme.
alwaystaking thc idea of the animal series(u'hich fbr him was ["De Blainville," Revued'histoire,pp. 90-91]
mcrcly thc readingof an ontological fact) as the measureof the
importance of men and their u'orks, composed his Hrsroirein
t he im age o f Go d c re a ti n g th e s e ri e s .[" D e B l ai nvi l l e," R erue
d'h;*oire, pp.15-821
[20] All history ofsciencc that is not strictly descriptivemav
be said to be implicitly normative insofaras its author, owing to
his culture at that moment, can do nothing to prevent himsclf
fiom reacting,as would a chemical reagent,with the meaningshe
thinks he seesemergingon their own from the past.But Blainville
and Maupied's H8foir!is more than normative in this strong sense:
it is a canonicalhistory in thc strict senseofthe word. How else
can one characterizea work in rvhich a man ofscience, such as
B lainv ille,c o u l d l v ri te i n h i s s i g n e d In tr oducti on that he took
account"only of thosestepsthat fell on the straightline between
the startingpoint and the end or goal," and thar he neglected"the
rvorksol individualsrvho, voluntarily or involuntarilv,veered,as
it \a'ere,to the leftrr60- a \r.ork,moreover,in u,hich Jean-Baptiste
Lamarckand LorenzOken are called"errant naturalists,"6la *'ork
that claims to professthe viervsof the "Christian Aristotlc"?62In
virtue ofthis, the authorsrl.rite, "As for those lost children nho
appearin nearly every era ofscience, .rvhohavestruck a bold but
misplacedblorv,or u ho fired befbrebcing orderedto do so, their
cfforts havealmost alwaysbeen r,"ithout effcct when not positivcly
harmful.We must not speakof them."6l lf the expression"canoni-
cal history" seemstoo severefor characterizinga work u,ritten
joint ly by a s c h o l a r* h o u ' a sa l e g i ti mi s t in pol i ti cs and a pri est
rlho *,ould one day serveas a consultant to thc Inder, one can
neverthelcsssay,havingnoticed that thc authorstook sevcralquo-
tations from Franqois-Ren6Vicomtc dc Chateaubriand'sErudes
historiques,6l
that their Histoireis, in its orvn way and for the nat-

6l
ll

Pn n r Trvo

Ep i ste m o l o g y

2
Crt,rrrr.n Foun

Epistemology of Biology

Origi ns of the Concept


f 21] Ar isr ot ler vast he f ir st t o at t em pt a gener aldclinit ion of lif i:
"Of natural bodies Ithat is, thosc not f)bricatcd by man], some
vitalitv'that
posseisvitalit\.,othersdo not. We morn try'possessing
Larer he savsthat
.r thing can nourish itselfand gro" and clecav."1
life is u hat distinguishesthe aninratetrodvfiom the inaninrate.But
the term "lif e, " likc "soul, " can bc under st oo<l
in sever als<r nses.
It i s enought hat one of t hcm should accor dr l ir h sonr eobject of
our ex per ience"f br us t o af lir m t hat [ t hat object ] ir alive. "rThe
vegetalstatcis the minimal cxpressionof the soul'sfirnctions.Lcss
than this and t her e is no lilc; r nv r ichcr f ir r m of liit 'lr esupposcs
i l t l castt his m t r ch. r Lif 'e,idcnt iliecl r vit h anim at ion,t hur dif ler s
l rom m at t cr ; t he lif 'e- soulis t he f br r r , or act , of u'hich t he living
natura lbody is t he cont ent : : uch r vasAr ist ot lc'sconccpt ion of '
life, anrl it remainedasvigorousthroughout the ctnturies asAris-
totel i a n philosophvit sclf di<1.All t he m edical philosophiest hat
held, dou n tofe beginning of thc nineteenth ccnturv, that lif'e
u'aseitlrt'ra unique principle or somchorvassociated
u ith the soul,
essen t iallIdif lcr cnt f iom m at t er , r nd nn cxccpt ioD t o it s laws,
rveredirectlv or indirccrlr inrlelrtedto that part ol'Aristot)e'ssr,s-
tcnr u hich can e<luallvrrell lre called biologv ,rt psvchol<-rgv.

67
But rhrough the end of thc cightccnth ccnturri Aristotle'sphi- ers * h o r vould lat er clenvhis ident ilicat ir r noi lile r t ir h t he sr r t r l
losoph'r'rr'.rsalso responsiblcfirr a mcthod of studling the nature sti l l nevcr f br got his f br ccf ir ldef init ior rof lif c as t he Po\ r cr t em -
an<lproperriesof living things,especialllanimals.lLifeforms rvere poraril) t o suspcn(al clest invof cor r upt ibilit v.
c las s ilied .rc < o rrl i nto
g s i m i l a ri ti c sa n d d i fl crenccsi n thei r parts In rerms lessfreightcd rvith metaphvsics,Xavicr Bichat b<gan
(or organs),rctions, Ilnctions anclmodcs of lifi:J Aristotle gave his Rcc,hercfics iologiqucssurlo vic ct /o mort (1800) rvith this
ph-r's
naturalistsrcasonto look at lifc fbrms in a particular rvav.The ccl cbr at edm axim : "Lif e is t hc collect ion o1linct ions lhr t r esist
method sidestcppedthc question of life as such. Its aim was to dcath." In defining lif'ein tcrms of a conflict bet*'een, on the onc
exhibit, rvithout gapsor reclundancies,thc obscrvablcproducts hancl ,a bodv com posedof t issuesof spccif icst t . uct ur e, r nd pr oJr -
of what A r i s to tl c h a d n o d i ffi c u l tv i m a g i ni ngas a pl asti cporvcr. crti es ( elast icit \ ,cont r act ilit v,sensit ivit v)and, on t he ot her , an
llenc e eig h tc c n th -c c n tu ryn a tu ra l i s tss uch as C omte B ufl bn and envi ro nm ent ,or m ilicu, as August c Com t e r vould lat el call it ,
Car olusLin n a e u sc o u l d rl c s c ri trca n d c l a ssi fvl i fe forms ui thout governedbv lau.sincliffcrcntto the intrintic needsol living things,
c v cr r ielini n g l h a t th e v m e a n tb y " a l i v e . " In thc scvcnteenthand B i cha tcasthim sclf asa St ahlpur gedof t hcologt . 1.. ]
i: ight ec nt h c c n tu rj e \. th e s tu d v o l ' l i f' e a s such rvaspursucd bv In the ver y vcar of Bichat 'sdcat h, 1802,t he t er m "Lr iologr "
phv s ic ian srJ th c r th a Dn n tu rn l i s tsa, n d i t \1.as naturalfbr thcm to rr',rsused fbr the first timc in (lermanr' l.l'-Clottfiit rl Reinholtl
as s oc iat e
li fr: rr i th i ts n o rm a l n ro rJ c", h c a l th." From the mi d sev lier ir;nus and simultancouslvin France[>r'Jean-Baptiste Lrnr.rrck
c nt c ent hce D tu r' \o n rr.rrc lth
, e n , th c s tu dvofl i fc becamethe srrl > - \h Hr<lroolologlie); thev therebr stiked a claim trr indtpcnrlence
Icct ol'phrsiologr (narrox ll construed).Thc pLrrpose ol this sturlr on beh alf ol t he lil'e scicnccs.Lam ar ckhad long plannedt o gir <
r v ast o det e rm i n e th r' < l i s ti n <ti v c fe a tu resof the l i vi ng. nor ro thc ti tle lliolo{ir t ( ) one of his r T'or ks,
h. r vinglt r , r poser J.t heor
t \ 'of
d ir ine t ht <s rc n c co f th i s re m a rk a b l ep o u cr of nature,[. . . ] life rcrv carly in his tcaching.rt thc r\1usa'um d'l listoirt Nattrrelle
I t r r as a (i < :rm a np h rs i c i a n ,C e o rg Ernst S tahl (1660-l 7l .t), i n P ar is. Bv st udving t he sim plest or qanisnl, i,lr e . r r gued,<t ne
r v ho nt or o th a n a n l rrn <c. l s c i n s i s te d th at a thecl rvof l i fe u.as.r c,rul <lclet er m inr r: vhat uas "csscnt ialt ( ) r he c\ ist ence ( ) [ lile it r
necess.lrvprcrcquisiteol medical thought and practice. No phv- a bodv. "[ .. . ]
s ic i. r nus ec lth ( t(:rm " l i fi " ' m o re o fte n . l f a doctor has no i cl ea Lamar ckconceivcdol lif i'as a cont inu( , us,st ci( |1'nccum Llla-
u,h.rt the purpose of thc vital lunctions is, horv can he explain ti on an classim ilat ionol'lluids bv solicls,init iallr in t he f br m ol a
*.hv hc d,rcs uhat he does?Novr',uhat confers lil'e * Jif'ebeing ccl l ul a r t isst r e,"t he m at r ix of all or ganizat ion. "I ile or iginat es
the directed, purposefi.rl movcmcnr without \ihich thc corporeal i n matt er and m ot ion, but it s uni<1uepor vcr is evidct r t onlv in
m ac hineuo u l d d c c o m p o s e- i s th e s o u l . Li vi ng bodi esare com, the ordcrly pattel+?ofit5 cfli:cts, the seriesof lile fbrms, u hich
positc sulrstancesu'ith the lacultv to impcde or resist thc cvcr- qradualll increascin complexity anclacquirc nerv liculties.+ [-ife
pr c s c nt t hl c a t o f d i s s o i u ti o na n d c o rru pti on. Thi s pri nci pl e of beginsrvith an "act of vitalization," an effect of heat, "that matc-
consrirvation.of the autocracl of living nature,cannot bc passive, ri al soul of living bodies. "5lndiviclualsm ust ( lie, vct lile, Par t ic-
henc c it m u s t n o t b c n a te ri a l . T h e fa c u lty ol sel fl prcservati on
is ularly in its most advanccrl.rnimal lbrms, comes, ovcl time, to
the l>asis
of Stlhl's Ilcoriri mctlicalcra (170t1).Certaincarelirlread- bear e vcr - lcr sr cscm blancct o t hc iner t passivit vol inanim at c

68
objccts, To call I amarck's theorv of life "marerialist" is to lbrget tion. Fromtlris point on it makcsscnse.thcrefbre,to lrscthe term
that lbr hinr "all the crLrde or inorganic.ompo.rfucmrtter rhat one "vital fbrcrs."7
ob scrvcs in nJ t ur e" is t hc r c s idue of or ga n i c <l e c o m p o s i t i o n . f o r
on lv Iiving t hings ar c c apablc of c hem ic a l s v n t h e s i s . Thus, death is presentin lif-e,as both universalarmaturc and in-
Ce org es Cuv ier ' s c onc c pt ion r v as v e r v d i f f e r e n t . Unlike elrrctable[atc of individual components organizedinto compat-
l-a marck, Bic hat and St ahl, Cuv ier s ar v l i l e a n d d e a t h n o t a s o p - ible vct fiagile svstcnrs.
p osir<s bu t as elenr ent s o{ r v hat ht ' c allc d " m o d e s o f I i f e . " T h i s The ol nr t ur alist slike Lanr ar cknnd Cuvier led, albeit
'r 'or k
concepr \r,as intended to capturc the wav in uhich highlv spe- in different \r'ays,to a conceptualan(l methodologicnlrcvolution
cialized internal organizations could entertain compatible rela- 'fheories
in the representationol the $,orld of living things. ol
tions rvith the "general conditions of existcncc." "Life," Cuvjer lile subsequentlyfirund a Iogical place in the teachingsof phvsi-
argucd, ologistsrvho, neverthelcss,believcdthat thcir cxperimentalmeth-
c,dshad exorciscdthe specterof mttaphrsics.Thus, fbl example,
is a con t inual t ur bulen< r , . r f lo* whos e d i r c c t i o n , t h o u g h c o m p l r x ,
IohannesM iiller discussed"lif c" and t hc "vit al or ganizat ion"of
remainsconstant.This fiux is composetloi molcculcs,rvhich ch.rnge tlre organismin the introduction to his llandbuclr<1,:r
Ph.vsiologie
individuallvvtr remain al|\,tvsthe sametvpe. IndecrJ,the aciual mit, tlesMenschens(1833-34). And Claude Bernard,rvho rccorcledhis
tcr thit constitutesa living bodv rvill soon hare clispersed,yct that intellectual progrcssduring thc most fertile period ol his carcer
mitte r sc nc s . r s t hc r c pos it r ) r \ of a f br c e t h a t $ i l l c o m p c l l u t u l c (1850-60)in hi\ Cohis (lenotet,alrvalsregardedthe n.rttrreol lif!
mart(r t( ) m ov e in t hc s am c dir c c t ion. T h u s , t h c f b r m o 1 a l i r . i n g .rsthe fundamentalqucstion ofgent'ral biologv. The carc[ul con-
body is rnore essent'.rlthan its mattcr, since rhe lattcr changcscon- sur lesphinominerde Io
<lusionshc reachedare set lbrth in I cgons
stantlv rvhilc the lormcr is preserved.6 vic communsdu\ dnimau\ et aux iplitaux (1878,espcciallythe first
three lcctures)morc systematicallvthan thcv arein lntroductiond
I.ifc th us bc ar s a c lear r elat ion t o deat h. la ntirlecine (1t365).f)l course,thc Bernarrliantlreorl
expitimearolc
of l i [e involvedr el. r t <rexplan.
d of t uo r Jcliber at clropposc<i
r t ions
It is a nristnketo look upon lifc] as a mcrc bond holding togrrhcr nraxi ms:lif 'eis cr eat ion( 1865)an<llif e is dcat h ( 1875) .
thc various elements of a living bodv, rvhen it is actuallv a spring H aving gained cm incnt ly scient if lc st at usin t he ninct eent h
that keepsthore clemcnts in constantmotion rnd shilts them aborrt. ccnturv, the question"What is lifc?" becamcone that evenphvsi-
'I'hc rclationsanclconnections
trmongthc clcrnents;rrenot thc sanc cists did not disrLf to ask: Eru,in Schrr;dingerpublisht'da book
lrot}r onc m()mrnt tcr fhc na\f; in other bcaringthat title in I947.At lcastone biochenristlirund cheques-
';rrrrrlr,thc statc or compo_
sition rr1 the living bodv changesfrom m(,m(nt to momcnt. Thc tion meaningfcss.hcrwever- Ernest Kahane,La I'ic n'e.riste pas,
morc active its lile is, the more its cxchangesand metamorphores 1962.1n ,ntr histolical r6sum6of hou the conccpt of lifc hasbeen
arc ncvcr-encling.And thc iDstant ofabsolute rest, u,hich ir called uscd in variousdonrainsofscicncc, I orvea great deal to the rvork
to ral d c at h, is but t he pr c c ur s or of lur t h c r m o r r c n t s o f p u t r e f a c - ol i\lichel Foucault.$["Vie," Enrlclopricdio,
pp. 764a-66.r]

7o 7t
Obstqcles to Scientific Knowledge of Life hi stori calsucccsswasnr echanics, basedon t he pr inciple ol incr -
ti a, a concept t hat com cs int o being $hen onc consider st lr e
[22] Contemporarvfrench cpistcmologyis indebted to thc $'ork
6f G as t on B ac h .' l a rdfi rr i ts i n te re s t i n u .h a t m av be descri bed, movement o f m at t er it self abst r act edf iom t he abilit v ol living
in gencral tcrms, as obstaclcsto knon,ledgc. In sketching out a things to impart movem('nr.Incrti.r is inactivitv and indiIference.
o f o b j e c ti v ek n o u .l e d g e ,Il a c h cl ard,i l he hi mscl f'
ps v c hoanalr s is It shoul d co m c as no sur pr ise,t hen, t hat cf 'f br t st o ext cn( l t hc
clid not Propose,at Ieasrhinted at the idca that obiccts crtknorvl- nrethodsof m at cr ialistsciencct o lif i'havc r epeat eclllbecn nt ct
e dge ar e not int ri n s i c .rL l vc o n rp l e x b u t ra th c r arr ennreshe<i n l !ri rh rcsi sta nct .t ight uP t o t ht pr t st 'nt dr r ' l1 slr ch r r sist nllcc
ps v c holo{ ic alc o mp l e x e s .T h c q u e s ti o n o l c p i stemol ogi calob- oftcn rcfl ec t s enr ot ioD. t host
l ilit v, it m av also st enl lr onr , l r ea-
s t ac les( J oc snot a ri s c l b r e i th e r c l a s s i c ael n rp i ri ci smor cl assi cal soncd judgment: n.rrnelr',tlrat it mav be paradoxic.rlt() attcmPt
ra t ionalis m .F or e m p i ri c i s ts ,th e s e n s c sa re s i r D pl creceptors;thc to cxplaina pou,ersuch ls lilc in termsofconccpts anclIaus l>aserl
l ac t t hat qualit ie sa rc a s s o c i a te drv i th s c n s a t i onsi s i gnored. For on thc nega t ionof t hat ; >or vcr . 1. . . 1
rationalists,knol'ledge pennancntlvdevalucsthe senses;thc intel- P ersi stcntquest ions. r boutt hc or igins ol lile anclt heor icsof
lcct, its purity rcstored,must ncver againbe sullied. But contcm- spontaneousgencration nlav \\'ell Point to another latent over-
porarvanthropologv,infbr-medbv psvchoanalvsis and ethnographv, detcrmination. Norvadalsit sccnrsto be taken fbr-grantc(lthit
takr.:sa vcrv different vierv:primitive psvchicmechanisnsimpose our fasci nat ionr vit h r epr oduct ionis all t he gr eat crbc( . r u5csoci'
cer t ain ot r r es t io n a cl o n s tra i n tso n th e c u ri o u s yet (l oci l e mi nd, ctv shunsand indccd <t nsorsout-cLlr-iositv about thtr subject.Chil-
thereb\ crcdting certain gencralize<io priori olrstaclesto untJer dren' s bcl i e llr at ) out sexu. r lir vr cf lecr bot lr t he im Por t ancc. r n( l
st . r nc ling.I n t he l i l e s c i c n c e s ,th e n , u h .rt u e hope ro cl i scovcr n)vstcri ousness ol- biI t h. Whilt m anr hist or iansol bit 'logr ', r scr il>e
i s t hc obs es s iv cp rc s e n c eo f c c rta i n u n s c i e nti fi c val ut s at the gcDcr at iont o t he lack of evidcnt t 'or unPer -
bc)i efi n spont aneous
very inccption ol scientific inrluirv. Even ifobjcctire knowlcdgc, suasi venesof s ar gunr ent st o lhe cont r ar Y,t he t heor Y t r at r vt ll
bcing a human eDrerprisciis in the cn<lthe u.ork of living human point to a nostalgicdcsilt' lirr spontaneotrs gr:ncration- n D)\'th,in
beings,the postulatethat srrchknorvledgcexists - rvhich is the short. Freud'sdissidcntdisciple Otto Rank argutrl in The Trouma
first condition of its possibility- lics in the systematicncgation, of Birth 11929)that thc <hild's sucldenseparationfi-om thc pla-
i n anv objr : c t t o rrh i c h i t ma v b c a p p l i e d , o f the re,rl i tvof the cental environmentis the sourceol, or ntorlcl fbr, all subse<lucnt
q ualit ies r v hic h h u n ta n s ,k n o u i n g u .h a t l i v i n g mcanr to them, anxicty.eHis ,Mythol thc Birrhol the Hero,rvhich dealsrvith nrcrr
i dc nt if v r v it h lif c . T tr l i v e i s to a tta c hv a l u e to li fc' s purposesanrl rvho somchorvavcricl the fearlst.l1lc,\\'assupposecl to Iend strppcrrr
cx per ienc es it ; i s to p rt' l tr c e rta i n n rc th o c l s ci , rcuntstances.rnd ro thi s vi c* b, r <lem onst r $r l r he pr evalcnccr , 1 t r ir t h- clenving
d ir ec t ionst o ot h e fs . I i l c i s rh e o p p o s i teo l i n di ffercnccto oD e' s D rvrhs.l 0\\' i t hout going so lir a\ t o cliir n t ir . r t. ill Pr oPoncDt sol'
sur r ounr lingsf . ..] rl hat has been r , r llLr l "L'r luivoca)gcncr at ion" or "hct er og, r nl, "
S c ic nc c ,hou e v c r, d e n i e sth e v a l u e sth a t l i l i i nrputcsto di fl u'hethermaterialistsor crt'atiolrists,havcdone nothing molf thnl)
l ir c nt objec t s ,lt d e l i n e so b j e c ts i n re l a ti o n to oD e anr)rher- i n give shapeto a lantasloriginrting in the traumatizeduncoDscinus,
other \ords, it l'ucnsurcsu'ithout ascribingvalue. lts lirst major one can sti ll ar guc t hat t hc t hcor v of spont . lncousgener , ) t ion

72 73
s t em s f iom a D o v e re s ti m a ti o no l th e v al ue of l i fe. Thc i dea of 2r7). This is not t he placet o r et r acct hc hist or vof t he schoolsol-
pr oc r eati o n .rn db i rth i s i n o n e s e n s ea n i deaofsequenccand pri - A l cxan dr ia- t hc. ler vishschool r vit h Philo, t he Plat onjcschool
ority, and avcrsionto thar icleamust be seenas a consequcnceof *,ith Plotinus - rvhoscteachings,coupled rvith the preachingot
the prestigeattached to uhat is original or primordial. lf cvcrv P aul(l Cor . 15) , inspir edt hc f ir ndam ent alt hem esof ear ly Chr is-
liv ing t hin g mu s t b e b o rn , a n d i f i t c a n be born onl v to another ti an doct r ine concer ning] if 'e,deat h, salr at ionanr l r esur r ect ion.
liv ing t hin { , th e n l i fc i s .r fb rm o fs e rv i tude. tsut i f the l i vi ng c.rn Indeed, the cultural cclecticism of Nlediterrane.rn
civilizationsis
riseto perfectionthroughan ascendantlcss
ascension,life is a form even responsiblefor thc polvsemicconnotations(another u a,vol'
ol domination. l"Yie," Entvclopaedia,
pp.7 66a-66t>l saying"ambiguitv") ofthe term "spirit," liom .rpirdre- an ambi-
guitv that pennitted it to sene cquallr rlell in tht'ologv,to dt'nott'
Li[e as Animotion
the thir d per r on ol t he Tr init v, and in m edicine, r l'hcr c. in t lr c
[23] We conrplctcly forget that r.hen rve speakof animals,ani- phrases"vit al spir it " and "anim al spit it , " it bccanr ean ant icipr -
malitv or inanimate bodies, the terms \1e use are vcstigcsof thc
tory trope lir the so-callednervousinllux.
nDc ic ntm e ta p h l s i c a li d e n ti fi c a ti o n .,fl i l e u' i rh the soul and of A fter 1600,t he conccpt ion of li{i' , r san anim at ionof m at t er
the soul rn'ithbreath(dnrmd= anernos). Thus whcrr man, the onlv l ost ground t o m at er ialistor m er el\ m echanist icconccpt ionsol
living creaturecapablcof <liscourse on lile, discussedhis orvn life thc intrinsic lifc firnctions, and it uas no longer acceptcd as an
in terms of rcspiration (\. ithout rvhich there is not only no lif'e
objectivc ans\l,erto the cluestion"What is lile?" \ct it survivcrl
but no s p e e c h ),h e th o u g h t h e * ' a s d i s cussi ngl i l i i n general .l l ' rvcl l i n t o t he ninet eent hcent ur v in t he lbr m ci{a nr edical- philo-
Creek philosophersprior to Aristode, cspcciallyPlato,spcculatcd
sophi calideologv.[ : or evidenccol t his, onc hasonlv t o glance
about the essenceand clestinyofthe soul, it rvasAristotle's De I
at a l i t t le- kno$'n t ext , t he pr cf ; ce t o t hc t hir t eent lr edit ion o1'
onima that first proposedrhe rraditionaldistinction between the
the D i ct ionndir ede m idccine( 187i) , publishedbv Jean- Bapt ist c
vegetativeor nutritive soul, the facultl of gro\a'thand rcproduc-
B ai l l i d r cr r nr lert he edit , r r shipol lm r posit ivistphvsirir ns, Em ilc
t ion; t he J n i m a l o r s e n s i ti v es o u l , th e facul ty to feel , desi reand
t.i ttr6, t hc aut hor ol . r cclt : br at eddict ionar v ol t he Fr t 'nch l. r n-
move; and the reasonableor thinking soul, the facultv ofhuman-
guage,and CharlesRobi;;g profbssorol histologvat I'aris's[:acult!
itv. In this contexr, ir maters little r"hether Aristotle thought of
dc N l tdccine.f . . . 1
t hes t ' t hr e es o u l sa s d i s ti n c t e n ti ri e so r a s mere)yhi erarchi call ev- 'l'he Dictionnoire dc miLlccine
in qucstion \\'asa r( cJstingof thc
els, the lesserof rvhich could exist u ithout the greater,where.rs 1855rer.isecl edition of PierreHubcrr N\sten'sDicrionnorrc
(l8l{),
the greater crruld neither exist nor function lvithout the lesser. i tscl f the r evisedand cr panded successorof Joseph Capur on's
'Ihc
important thing is to rememberthat lbr the Grecksthe u'ord Dictionnaircclemddecinc (1806), I'he cditors $'crc keen to point
plche meant cool breath. The Jels, moreover,had ideasof life out the diller ence l) ct \ vccn t he m at er ialistidcas t hcr . *er e ac-
and t he s o u l q u i te s i m i l a r to th o s e o f rh e C reeks:' A nd the Lord cusedof cham pioning. r nclt he posit ivistdoct r ine t hev pr olessed
Ciodformed man of the dust of the ground and breathcd into his to tcach.-lcrthat encl,thev commented on thc varioLlsdcfinitions
nostrilsthe breathoflife; and the man becamca living soul" (Gen. of the t er m s "soul, " "spir it , " "m an" an<l"cleat h" r hat Capur on

71 7t
had pr opos e rli n 1 8 0 6a n d th e v (l -i ttre a n d R obi n)had themsel ves Life os Mechanisnt
pur f br u ar d i n 1 8 5 5 . [2,1] At thc cnd ol thc Trcatiseon (cornpleted in l6ll but
'l'lan
I n 180 6 ," s o u l " rv a s< l e fi n e da s th e " i nterD rl pri nci pl e ofal l not pub lishcdunt il 1662- 64) ,l) cscar t es\ \ 'r ( ) t c:
operati.ns t,l lir ing bodies;more particularlv,the principle of lifc
in t he r egc ta li l ,r(li n th e a n i m a l .T h e s o u l i s si rrpl r \egetati vei n I shouldlikc \ ou t o coDsider t hat t hesclt r nct ionr|, llor r lr r r nrt hc
p) ant sanr l s c n s i ti v ei n L re a s tsb;u t i t i s s i m pl e and acti re, reason- mcr ear r angcm cnt ol t hc nr ar binc's or ginsc\ r r r !bit ; s n. r t ur allrr s
. r blcan< linrm o rta l i n m rn ." tl re I n. ) r 'cm cnt,\r i . r clocl r ) r {) t ht r aut ( ) n) lt {r nI t llor t lr r 'nr t hc
ln 1855 ,o n c fi ru n da d i fl c rc n t d c l i n i ricrn: rrrangcnr r nc s s ht . ls. ln r r r dcrr o <r plain
ol it r count ( r - \ \ ( 'ightand
t()concaivt'ol this machinc
thcn, it i:i not neccssarv
thcscfirncrions.
Tcrnrs hich,in biologv,cxprcsscs,
consiclcrcd
analornically,
thc col-
ashavinganvr,cqctiti\(()r scnsitive'ioulor othcr principle<rlrnovc
lcction of [unctionsol rhe brain and spinalcord and,consiclcrcd
mcnt and liic, ap. r r tlr om ir s blood and it \ sPir ir s,r r hich. r r eagi-
phvsiologicalll,
the collcctionof firrctionsof rhe cnccphalicscnsi-
tatedbl the be;rtol thc lire burningcontinuou\ll in ils he.rrt- a
bilit y ,t h i t i s , th c p c rc c p ti o no Ib o th e x ternal,rbj ectsandi nternal
s t hc lir cst h. r t( ) acurin in. r ni
l i re nhich hast hc sam onat ur e. r all
objccts;thc sum total ol the neetlsantlpenchants that servein the
mat cbodies. ll
pre\en.iti{)n
ol the individualanrlspccicsanrlin rt l.rtionss irlr other
beingsrlh c a p ti tu rl erh s a tc o n s ti tu terh e imngi nnri r)n. l anguage and
It i s fa ir lv nell knolr n t hat Dcscar t cs'sident ilic. r t ionol t he . r ni-
t \ pr c \ s i ()nIb
: c l .rc u l ti cth
s a t fo rm th c u n rl crst,rndi ng: thc s i l l , and
mai (i n cludingphvsical. r phvsiological nr an)r r ir lr a nr cchanizct l
linall! t h e l )(' \\' (rt(r s e t th e rn u s c u l .rr
s \j tcm i n ntol i on.tn(lco act
or mec hanic. raut l onr at onis r ht , r bver scof [ xr t h his it lcnt if icat icr n
t h r , r u g h it o n th c cxtt r n a l n o r kl.
of thc s oul n'it h r hought ( "For .t hcr c is r lit lr in t r s hut onc soul,
I n 1861,t h i s d e l i n i ti o n * a s s u b j c c te dt() \' chcmcntcri ti ci sm bv and this soul h.rsrvithin it no <livcrsitvol parts"rl) an<lhis substan-
Anatolc l\t.rlic Emile Chaullard,.rvhoattackcrlnot onlv Littra and ti al di st inct ionbet r Teent hc indivisiblesoulandext endt d m at t er .
Robin but afso l.uclrvigBiichncr (( ralt untl StolJ,1855 ), the high ll the Treatise on ,tr|.rnsurpastlcvcn the summaryof its contents
pricst of Cerman materialismar rhc timc. ln Dc la Ph;losoph;e d;te given in the fifth part of the 1631 Discourse on ,,l,Iethorl
as a mani-
Positivedans scsrdpports.ryecI.t midccinc,Chaull;rrl cclcbratcd "thc fisto supporting an animal phvsiologvpurifiul of all lef'erenccs
indis s olub l r:n ra rri a g co f mc d i c i n e a n d p hi l osophv"anclyearned to a principle of aninr r t ion of anv kind, it r 'as bccat r se\ Villian't
to ldund "thc notion of thc rcal and living being" on "human rea- llarvev'sdiscovrrvol thr circulation of thc blorxl and Ptrl'lication
s on a\ \ ar e o l i ts e ]l -,rsc a u s ea n d { i rrc e ." li vo vcarsl ater, C l aude ol thc ErcrritatroonLlto i.o (lc notu cot(litet sontluinit in dDitnctlihut
Eern.rr(l!\'r-ote,"For the experimental phvsiologist,thcre can bc a hr dr odr r r . t nr icex; r la-
(i 628) had, in t lr e nr cant inr e,pr esent c<l
no s uc h t hin g a i i p i ri tu .rl i s mo r ma tc ri .rl isnr.... Thc physi ol ogi st nati on of . r lif e t ir nct ion - an explanat iont h. r t t ] t inv phr sicianr ,
.rnd the phlsici.rn shoulclnot think that their role is to discover parti cular lyin lt alv and Cer m anl, had t r ied t o im it at e, ot t cr ing
the causeo ile or the t'sscnceofcliseases."rL
["Vie," Lnc,vclopae- a vari et v of ar t ilici. r l m oclelst o cxplain such ot hcr t r r nct ionsas
dia, 1tp.167 a-67b1 muscu larcont r act ionor t hc equilibr ium of lish in uat er . I n f ict ,

7t) 77
r

G alileo' ss tu d c n tsa n d d i s c i p l e sa t th e A ccademi adel C i mento, There is r easont o t hink t hat M alpighi's belief in m cchanism
Giovanni Af fbnso Borclli (De motu dnimalium, 1680-81), Fran- unconsciouslystructured his perccption of phenomena.
c es c o Rc d i a n d Ma rc c l l o M a l p i g h i , h a d actual l v tri ed to appl v Intentionallyor not, behind evervmachineIoomeda mechanic
G alileo' s t e a c h i n g i n m e c h a n i c sa n d h ydraul i csto phvsi ol ogv; or, to u sc t he languagcof t he dav, a builder . Living m achines
Descartes,though, rvassatisfiedto set forth a heuristic program i mpl i ed a m echanicof t hcir ou'n, and t hat im plicat ion Point ed
that wasmorc intentional than operational. toward a Summu.ropilex,Go<1.It rvasthcrefbre logical to assumtr
C)ne uav of explaining ho*' organslikc thc cvc or organ sys- that all living machincs had been constructed in a single initial
tcms like the heart and vesselswork is to build what rvc l'ould operation, and thencc that all the gcrms of all thc prcfbrmed liv-
nou call "mcchanical modcls." This is preciselyr'"hat the iatro- ing things - past, prescnt or luturc - u'ere, from the moment
m ec hanic s (o r i a tro m a th c ma ti c i a n s ) of the seventeenthand of creat ion,cont ainedone inside t he ot her . Under t heseconr li-
c ight eent h c e n tu ri e s tri e d to d o i n o rd er to expl ai n muscul ar tions, the successionof living thingr onlv appearsto be a histor,v,
contraction, digestion and glandular secretion. Yet the Iaws of becausea birth is in reality onlv an unpacking.When lcssbiased
Calilean o r C a rte s i a nme c h a n i c sc a n n ot by thcmscl vcscxpl ai n or more ingcniousobser vat ionsled t o t hc r evival,in a r evised
thc origin of coordinatcd organ systcms,and such coordinatcd lbrm, of the old vieu that the embrvo grorvsthrough epigencsis
svstemsare preciselvv',hatone meansby "life." ln other rvords, (thc successiveappcaranceol anatomicalformationsnot geomct-
mechanismis a theorv that tells us hou machines(living or not) rically derivablefrom anteccdcnt lbrmationsl;), modcrn embrv-
rvork once thev are built, but it tells us nothing about how to ologv rvasinstitutcd asa sciencecapableofencouragingphvsiologl
build t hem . to frec itselffrom its f;scination \\'ith mechanism
In practice, mechanismcontributed Iittle to subjectssuch as Mea nr r hil, , gt or r ing nt t m l', r . ol oh. ( r \ ali. lns br m icr , t . co-
embrvologv.The useof the microscope,rvhich bccamecommon 1,i .r.,na rur ali"r . .phur i. ion'il?. , h. r t . ur ioLrr lr out n. r t t t r chelPeJ
in the seconclhalf of the scventecnthccnturv, made it possiblc to cliscrcditmechanismin a dillirent but Parallelu'ar'.The hidden
to obscrvcthc "sccds" of living things, living things in the earli- inncr structure ofplant and animal partsgraduallvcame to sccm
cst stagesof rlcvclopmcnt. But Jan Swammerdam'sobservations prodigiouslvcomplicated comparecln'ith thc macroscopicstruc-
of insect metamorphosesand Anthonic van l-ccurvcnhock'sdis- tures visible t hr ough disscct ion.The discovcr l of anim alcules,
covervof the spermatazoidu'ere initiallv understooclto confirm a hencefbr t h called Pr ot ist a, opcncd up pr eviouslvunsusPcct e( l
speculativeconception of plant or animal generation,according rl cpthsin t he em pir e of t hc living. Wher cassevent ecnt h- cent ur v
to which the seed or cgg or spcrmatic animalculecontains, pre- mechanicsu'asa theorv ofmovcmcnts and impulses,that is, a sci-
fbrmed in a miniature that optical magnilication reveals,a being ence ba sedon dat a accessiblet o sight and t ouch, m icr oscopic
u.hoseevolution rvill proceeduntil it attainsits adult dimensions. anatom v$as concer nedwit h object s bevond t he m anif cst ancl
The microscopic observationthat did most to validate this the- tangi blc. Availing onesel{ of t hat st r uct ur al m icr ocosm , t hat
or y was un d o u b te d l y Ma l p i g h i ' s e x a mi nati on of thc _vcl i owof' "other rvorlcl" rvithin, one could conceile of evcr more minute
a c hic k c n' s e g g fa l s e l ya s s u me dn o t to have been i ncubated.ra mi croc osm scm bcddcd onc w. it hin t he ot her . Thc m icr oscopt :

76
c nabledth e i m.rg i n a ti o nto c o n c e i v co f structuralcompl cxi tv on di sti nguishedt ubulcs, vcssclsand liber s, and com par ct l r oot s,
a scaleneverbefbrt'inragincd,much asmodern calculusextcnded tv' ,i gs ,leavcsand f iuit s in t er m s of t hc m cm br anesor t issucs
thc porver of Descartes'sanalyticalgcomerr\'.As a result, pascal thcv co nt ained.
and I cibniz, unbeknonnst to each othcr, both fbund mechanism The Greek u'ord or.Tonon
relerred to both a musician'sinstru-
uanting. But I.cil'niz'scritique, unlike Pascal's,
prorided the fbun- ment and an ar t isit n'rt ool. The hum an bodv n'ascom pr r er l t o a
c lat ion li rr J D c w c o n c c p ti o n o l i i v i n g rhi ngs - l ri oJogvrvoul d musi calr ) r ganin nr or et han onc scvcnt eent h- cent ulv
t c\ t . iDclu( l
hc nc c lo rrhp i c tu re l i fi .i n te rn tso fo rg ani snrand organi zati on: ing rtorks br Dcsc.rrtes,Pascal,J.rcqucs-Bin i{tnc lJossuel{Irdils
elcla connoisrancc
<tcDieu ct <!eroi-mdme)
and Lcibniz. "()rganiza-
Thuseach<rrganic boclvofa living cre.rrurcis a kind o1divinema, ti on," "or ganic". r nd"or onnize"st ill car r icd bcr t hbiologicaland
chincor nnturalautomatonsurpassing inlinitclvevcrvkind ol artifl- musi ca lconnot . r t ionsas r ecent lvas t hc ninet eent hcent ur v ( scc
cial.rLltorn.rton.
Fora machincmadebv hunr.rn
art is not a machinein l-<rr[)escartes,
Emile Littr6's Dictionnairetlc la languet'ranqoise).
cvcrvpartol it... . lSutNature's
machines,
livingbcxlier,arcmachines the organic "organ" lirs an instrument th.rt nccdcd tro organist,
cveniD thcir minutcstpartsanclto inlinitv. fhis is r!hat constittrtcs but Ieibniz believeil, hat vr , it hout . r nor ganistt her c c'uld bc no
thc riilli renccbct.neennaturt'andart, l>enrcenthe rlivineart and structural or lunction;rl rnit\ of the "organ" it-rstrument.\\rith-
or r rhu m,rna rt.l 6 out an or ganizcr ,t h, r t is, r vit hout a soul, not hing is ot g. r nizecl
or
org.rnic:"[W le rr ould nevcrreach.rnvthingabout rt hiclr ''*r'c,l:ld
l"Vie," fncr c/rpocrlro,pp. 7671>-68a] sav,he r e is t r r r lv a lr cing. lr nlcss\ ! e f ir Lr ndanim at ,r l nr r chint s
rvhoscsoul or strtrstantial lbrnr producrl .r suhstanti.rlunin in<]c-
Lifc as Orgo n ization
pcndcn t of t he e\ t er n. r lunion ar isingliom c( ) l1t . t ct . 'rLess
Li cclc-
[25] C)nceagain, it \1asAristotlc .who coincd the term ,,organ- blated but more of a tcaclrcr,the phvsicianDanicl L)rrncanurote:
ized brrrlr'."A bo<lvis organizedif it providt,rthe soul $.irh instru- " l he soul is a skilled or g. r nist ,r vhich f br m s it s or q. r nrbcf or t :
ments or organsinclispcnsable to tlre exerciseol its pou.ers.Until p].ryi n gt hcm . . . . lt is a r em ar . kable
t hing t hat in inanim at c or -
the scvcnteenthcerrtury,then, thc paradigmol thc organizcdboclv
gans,th c or ganistis dif ler ent f r om t hc air t hat he causest o f lou,
r v ast hc a n i ma l (b c c a u s ei t p o s s e s s cad s oul ).()fcourse, A ri stotl c
* hereas in anim at e or ganst hc or ganistanclt lr e air t hr t causes
s aidt hat p l a n tsto o h a v eo rg a n s ,a l th o ughol an cxtremcl vsi mpl c
them t o plav ar e onc and t hc s. r m et hing, bv lhich I nr cr n t hat
k ind, anrl p c o p l e d i rl rv o n c l e lrb o u t rh c organi zati onofthe pl ant the sou l is ext r em el\ sim ilar t o t hc. r ir or t o br ear h. "lr
k ingdom . ,\l i c ro s c o p i cc x a m i n a ri o no l pl art prcparati onsl ed to 'Ihc concept ol organisnrrlevelopedin thc cighteerrthc('ntur\'.
gerrer.rlizations ofrhe concept ol org.rnitation,an<lir eveninspired as natur alist s,phvsicianran<lphil<- r sophersought
s sr niant ic sub-
i.rnt.rsticanalogiesbctv|eenplant.rnd anint.rlstructuresanclfLnc- stitutesor ('(luivllcntskrr th< rvord"soul" in ordcr to cxplain h<"t
t ions - Ro b e rt l l o o k e (.4 l i c ro g ra p h i al ,( ,6i ), N l arcel l o Mal pi ghi svstemscom pose( lol dist inct com ponent snevcr t heless
r r r r r k in
( A nat onttp l a n ta ru m,f6 7 5 )a n d N c h c m i .rhC rc; (l ' he A natoml ,oJ
a uni fi eclm anner t o per lbr m a linct ion. The par t soi sr r cha svs-
Plants,1682)discoveredthc structurc of b.rrk, rvood and cortcx, tenr mutuallv influence onc another in (lirect or nrt'<li.rtedlish-

8o a
*-r-
$i
ion. The rvord "part" secmed ill-suited to dcnote the "organs"
I that nat ur e f can] . , , , ": t . tI n t he sam eper iod, t he physicianCar l
of r v hic h t h c o rg a n i s mc o u l d b e s e e n a s thc " total i ty" but not Friedrich von Kiclmcver, rvhom GeorgesCuvicr had mct asa fel-
the "sum." l ow studcnt at t he Car oline Academ l in St ut t gar t , dcliver ed a
ReadingLeibniz inspireclCharlesBonnct, rvhosehostilitr to celebratedlecture on thc main ideasof an influential approach
mechanism had been confirmed by Abraham Trembley'sobser- to zoology and botanv, the Rappott deslorces organiquesdans Io
vationson the reproduction of polyps by propagation,and bv his (179)). The organism is delincd
sirie desdilldrentesorganisations
clrvnobscrvationson the parthcnogenesis of plant Iice. as a syst cmof or gans in a r clat ion of cir cular r ccipr ocit v. 'f hese
organsare determinglbv thcir actions in such a wav that thc
I am not i-ct makingthe difliculty plainenough:it lics not only in organism is a svst cm of f br ces r at her t han a svst emol or gans.
an organthat is itscl{ composedof so manr
how to form mechonicall.v Kiclmcycr scemsto bc copving Kant rvhen he savs,"Each of th<:
dilfcrcntpiccesbut primariiyin explaining,by thc Iawsof mechan- organs,in the modifications that it undcrgocsat caclr moment,
ics alone,thc host ol variousreldfioDr
that so closelvbind all the is to such a degreea function of those that its neighborsundergo
orgaoicparts,and in virtuc of which thev all conspiretorn,ard
the that it seemsto be both a causeand an ef'lect." It is easvto sec
samcgcncralgoal- bv which I mean,thel form that unity vr,hich u'hv imagesof thc circle and sphereenjovedsuch prestiger among
onecallsan animal,that organizcdwholc lvhichlives,grorvs,feels, R oma nt ic nat ur alist srt he cir cle r cpr cscnt st he r ecipr ocit v ol
moves,presc'rves
andrcproduccs
itsel[.le meansand endsat the organlevel,thc sphcrcrcprcsentsthe total-
itv, individual or universal,oforganic forms and fbrccs.
In Gcrmanv the text that dicl most to place"organism" at the In Fr anceat t hc beginningol t he ninet eent hcent ur v it was
t op ol t he la te e i g h te t' n thc c n tu ry ' s l i s t o f bi oJogi calconcepts A ugus t eCom t e's biological philosophy,dist inct f r om but not
$,asKant's Critiquc of Judgnent (1790). Kant analvzedthe con- unrelated to Cuvier's biology, that sct fbrth in svstematicf;sh-
cept ofan organizedbeing rvithout using the rvords"lif'e" or "liv-
t1 ion the elementsofa thcorv of living organization.lrArguing that
ing thing." An organizedbeing is in onr: sensca machine, but a " the i dea of lif e is r ealll insepar ablef r om t hat of or ganizat ion, "
machine that rcquircs a fbrmativc cncrgy, something more than Comtc dcfined the organismasa consensus of functions "in regu-
mere motor cncrgyand capableof organizingotherwise inert mat- l ar anc lper m anentassociat ionu. it h a collect ion of ot her f unc-
tcr. lhe organic bodv is not only organized,it is self:organizing: tions." Consensus is a Latin translation ol the Greek s.vmPatheia.
"ln such a natural product as this every part is thought as owirfrf S vmpat hv,r vher ein t he st at esand act ions of t he var ious par t s
its presenceto the ogenclof all the rcmaining parts, and also as determine one anot her t hr ough sensit ivecom m unicit ion, is a
cxisting for the saheof the othersand ofthe wholc, that is, as an notion that Comtc borrorvcd, along rvith that of svncrg\',from
ins t r um ento r o rg a n .Bu t th i s i s n o t c n o u gh..,. On the contrary PaulJosephBarthez,* ho * rote:
the part must be an organproducingthc other parts - each, con-
' [' hepr eser vat ion lile wit
secluently,reciprocallv producing thc others. No instrument of of is ; r sr ociat er l h t he svm pat hics
o1t hc
art can ans\r,erto this description, but onlv the instrumcnt of organs,as *ell ar lvith thc organismol their lirnctions....Br the

u2
\\'()r(l'rlncr!\,'i I mun .r <oncotttsc oi simultaneousrrr str<.<cssilt tabl v turned at t ent ion t owar d t he pr oblcnr ol int t 'gr at ing ( l( -
.l(ti(r)s,)t rhe lirrrcr oi rlirrrsr rrrg,rDs.
rhir corlcourscbeingrLrth mcntarv i nd ividualit iesand par r i. t llile lir r m s int o t he t ot alizing
t hnt t hr \ c , r c t i ()ncs()n s ti tu tr,b r th c i r o rd c ro l harnl on\ol sua(:c\ i ndi vi cl ual it yol an or ganismin it s gt - ncr ll lile lor m .
s jr r n.t hr ' int r i n s i cl b rrn o i a l rrn c ti o no l h c , rl thor ol a tenus trl Such problerrs ofgeneral phvsiologrrlould increasinglvclainr
the attenti o n ol- ClaudeBer nar rover
l t he cour seof his car eerasa
researchera nclpr of essor .For pr oof one need onlv consult t hc
C om t c , of c our s c , i m p o r-te dth e c o n c c p t o l consensusi nto the ninth ofhis Legontsurlesphinomincttle Ia vi,:communtdu\ animdu\
thcorr oi rhe socialorganism,an(l he l.rtcrrcviscdand generlli,/e(l The organism is a societl ol cclls nr clemcntnrv
et aux v,lp1ttour.
i t in his *' r r r k on s o c i a ls ta ti c s ." C o n s e n s u s "then bccamt svnon- The specializa-
organi sms,a t once. lut onom ousanclsu[ , ot - dinat e.
\lllou' u ith solidarityin orgaDicsvstems,and Conrtc skctchedout ri on of thc conr ponr nt s is a f int t ion ol r hc com plexit v , r l t he
a s( riL's()l (legreesol organic (onsensDs,llhose efli:cts lrccome rvhol c. Thc cllt 'ct ol t his coor dinat edspecializat ionis t he cr er '
i n c r eas ir gll s t r i n g e n t a s o n e ri s e s l i o m p l a nts to ani nral sand ti on, at the le'el oI t he elem ent s,ol a liqLr iclint er st it ialm i] icu
-
man,2)Oncc conscnsusis identifled rr ith solidaritv,one no l()nger \ut B ..nur, l dubbed t he "int cr nal cnvir onm cnt , " $'hich is t hc
knorvsr* hich of thc trvo, organisntor society,is thc model or, at sum of the phvsicaland chem ical conr lit ionsof all cellular lif e.
anv rat{, rhc metaphor lbr the othcr. "Onc might dcscribc this condition o{ org.rnicperfection bv sar'
I c nv , r r r l<
[ . lc a mi s ta k eto a s c ri b t'rh c .rm b i gui tvofthe r<l ati on i ng that i t con5isr sin an cvcr - m or cnot iccat r lr '<lif lir cnt iat ionol
[rct.r'ccnorq.rnisnrand soci<tv solclv to the la\ity of philosophical the l abor of pr epar ingt he const it ut ion oI t he int t 'r na]envir on
languagc.lr the background,onc cnn seethe pcrsistenceof tech- mcnt," As is r.ell knoun, Bernarduirs one ol the lirst to cliscover
noiogical imagerv,r'ividlv present liom Aristotle's dar onrvarrl. r , vit ha m echa-
thc constan croJ t his int cr nal envir oDnr eDt , . r long
At thc bcginning ol thc nineteenth centurv, a concept imlx)rted ni sm, rvhi c h he called "int er nal sccr t : t ion, " lir r r cgulat ingand
from polit ic al ec o n o m v ,th c d i v i s i o n o l ' l a b o r, cnri ched the con- controlling that constancv,u.hich hasbccn knou'n cvcr sincc .rs
cept of organism.The first accountof this metaphoricaltranscrip- homcostasis.This rvasthc original, anclc.rpital,contribution ol
ti on is < luct o t he c o m p a t' a ti vpeh rs i o l o g i s tIl c n ri Mi l ne-l :< l nl rds, Brrnardianphvsiologvto the moclernc.,nceptionol living organi-
who \r'r'otcrhe articfe on "Organization"Ior the Dictionnareclas- zati on: thc c\ iSt cnceof ln int cr nal cnvir ( ) nnt cnrof
. a const anc!
ti(iuc dcs rircra.,-rnaturcllcr(1827). Since the organirm rv.rscon- obtai nedhv colr pcnsat ingf or t lo iat jonslnt l pt r t ur blt ions, pr r >
cc ir er l as l s r r r t 6 f 1 1 .6 1 1 5 1 eopr l ,rc to rr, i t * as onl r l ogi cr) to vides regulrterlorganismsrvith an assuranctol rclativc indcpcnrl-
measurethc pcrfection of livin{I Lreingsin tcrms of the incrcas- encc fi om v ar int ionsst em m ing liom t ht 'ext cr nal condit ions ol-
ing structuraldifferentiationand firnctionalspecializationol rheir their cxistence.Bernardwaslirnd ofusing the tenn "elasticitv" to
p ar t s , anr l t hus i n te l ms o f rr:l a ti v cc o m p l e x itv. B ut that com- convev his idea c,forganic Iifc. Pcrhapshe had fbrgottcn th.1tthc
p lex it v r t quir ec l , i n tu rn , a n a s s u rJ n c eo f u n i tv and i ttdi vi dual i - paratligmaticmachinc of his era, the stearnengine,wasequipped
z. . t t ion.T ht ' int r o c l u c ti o n o f c e l l rh c o rv i n the bi ol ogv fi rst of rvith a rcgulator rlhen he rvrotr:
p lant s ( ar oun< l1 8 2 5 ) a n d l .rfc r o [.rn i m a l s (a round 1ti 40) i ncvi -

8t
C)ne treats thc organism as a machine, and this is correct, but one and counteractperturbations.Sucha svstemis capableofaltering
conridcrs it as a lired, immutrble, mcthanirol moc/lnr, confined its rclation to the en\ironment ll'om which it drarvsits cnergv
rrith in r hr linr it s c r l m at hc m at ic al pr ec i s i o n . a n d t h i r i s a s e r i o u s in order to maintain thc lcvcl of some paranreteror to perlbrm
nristakc. The organism is ar otBdnic moclrine,that is, a machine Somcactivity.
equipped rvith a llcxible, elaslic mcchanisnr,ou.ing to thc special C l aude Shannon'sr vor k on com m unicat ion and inf or m at ion
o rgn nic pr oc c s \ c s it c m plor s , \ et wit ho u t v i o l a t i n g t h e g e n e r a i theor v and it s r elat ion t o t her m od\ nam ics( l9. 1li) appealedt o
l;rls of mechanics,physicsor chcmistrv.2{ offer a partial ans\1erto an age-oldquestion .rbout lif'e. The sec-
ond la*' of thermodvnamics,which statesthat translbrmationsof
lYie," F,ncvclopacd;o,
p. 768a-69a] an isolated systemare irreversible,owing to rhe degradationof
energv in the systemor, put another u?\', to tlre increaseol thc
Life as I nfornation system'sent r opy,appliest o object s indif ler ent t o r he qualir v of
[26] Cvbcrneticsis thc gcneral theon- of servomechanisms, that their statc, that is, to objccts that are either inert or deacl-Yet an
is , ol m ac h i n e sc o n s tru c te (ls o n s to m a i ntni n certai n outputs organism,rvhich feeds,grows,regcDeratcs
mutilatcd parts,rcacts
\
( pr o< luc t so r e fl e c ts ) rv i th i n fl x c < l o r v ari abl cl i mi ts. S Lrchma- to aggr cssion,spont aneously healscer t ain diseases - is not such
chines form the heart of selflregulatingsvstems,and it is hardlv an organismengagedin a struggleagainstthe lite ofuniversaldis-
s ur pr is ingt h a t s e l f-re g u l a ti n go rg a n i c s vstems,especi al l vthose organ izat ionpr oclained by Car not 's pr inciplc? I s or ganizat ion
mediated bv the nerrous system,became models fbr thc t,ntirc order amidst disordcri Is it the maintenanceol'a quantirv of iDfbr-
class.()fcourse, the analogl betrveenscrvomcchanisms
and organ- mation proportionalto the conrplexityol the structure?Doesnot
isms runs both *avs, In a regulatedsvstem,not onlv do the parts information theory havemore to say,in its orvn algorithmic lan-
interact u'ith one another but a feedbackloop connects one or guage ,about living t hings t han llcnr i Bcr gsondid in t be t hir d
m or e m onito re d o u tp u ts to ()n er)r mo rc r cgul atorl ,i nprrts.Thus r olume ol'his Ivo./otionudott;cc(1907)?
c y ber net ic m a c h i n c s ,rv h e th e r n a tu ra l or man-made,are oftcn In fact , t her e is a gr eat gull. an ir r educible dif f er ence, be-
describedin terms of communications or information theory. A tween currcnt theories of organir.ationthrough inlbrmation and
sensornronitorsan output fbr (lcviationsfronr a fixed or optimum Bernard'sideasabour indilidual developmentor Bergson'sirlcas
lev el. W hc n s u c h .r d c v i a ti o n i s d e te c re d ,the fecdbackl oop si g- about the evolution ofspecies and the e/an litol. Bcrnardhad no
nals the control input so as to convevan instruction from sensor cxpl an at ion f or t he evolut ion of species,and Bcr gsonhad no
t o ef lec t or. It i s th e i n fb rm a ti o n c o n te nt of thi s si gnaJthat i s cxplanationfbr the stability or rcliabiliry of living structurcs.But
im por t ant , n o t i rs i n tri n s i c fo rc e o r ma gni tude. l ' hc {ccdback the com binat ionof m olecularbiologv u it h g( 'net icshasI ed r o a
inf or nr . r t io ne mb o d i e sa n o rd e r i n trv o d i sti nct senses:a cohcr- unified theory of biochcmistry,phvsiologicalregulation.rndheri-
ent structure as.rvcllasa command. tabilitv oI specific variationsthrough natural selection,ro which
An organism caD thus be understood as a biological svstem, information theorv has addcd a rigor comparableto thar of rhe
an open c lr n a mi c a sl y s tc mfh a r s e c k sto prcsrrvt' i ts crl ui l Jbri rrm phvsi calscicnces.

86 t\7
O nc qu c s ti o n re m a i n s ,h o s c v c r, rv i thi n thc thcorv i tscJf,to A ug ust Weism nnn'st heor y of t he cont inuit v of t hc gcr m ina-
r v hic h no a n s rv e irs y c t i n s i g h t: Wh e re doesbi ol ogi cal i nfbrma- ti ve pl a sm aas opposed t o t he m or t alit y of it s som at ic suppor t
t ion or igin a te ?An d rt I.rv o fl ma i n ta i n sthat bi oJogi calorcl crcan (1885), Alexis Car r el'st echniclucs f br cult ur ing em br vonict issuc
ar is eonll o u t o f b i o l o g i c a l o rd e r, a fb rmuJati oncontemporary (1912),and thc do'elopment ofpure bactcrialculturesestablished
rvith tlre aphcrrisrnsomne vivum cx vivo, omniJcelluloet cellulo. the potential immortalitv of thc singlc-cellorganism,rvhich .rvas
llor v did t h c l i rs t s c l f-o rg a n i z a ti o n
c o mc about i f communi ca-
| l rr.rl onlv br . r ctidr nt . . r n, l t h, . r l, nt t r t d. nce t o r hc i, lc, rr har
.!
tion dependson a prior sourceof information?One philosopher, thi pht nom , na , , 1. r ging. r n,n. l r t ur ll t l, at h af ier . r , er t , lin . f r , r n, , 1
llav m ond R u y e r, p u ts th e p ro b l e m th i s rvav: " C hance cannot vearsar e conscqucncesof t he com plexit v of highlv int egr at ed
account fbr antichancc.Thc mcchanicalcommunication of infor- organi sm s.I n such or ganism s,t he pot cnt ialit iesof each com po-
mation bt a machinc cannot account fbr infbrmation itself, since nent are limited by thc lact that other componcntsperfbnn inde-
the machine can onlv dcgradcor, at bcst, prcscrvcinfbrmation." pendent fhnctions. Dying is the privilegc,or rhe ransorn- in anv
B iologis t sd o n o t re g a rdth i s c l u e s ti o na s meani ngl ess:contem- case,the <Jestinv
- of the most highlv regul.rtcd,mosr homcosraric
por ar v t hc o ri c s o [ th e o ri g i n s o f l i fe o n earth l ook to a pri or natura lm achines.
chcmical cvoltrtion to cstablishthe conditions necessarvfbr bio- From t hc st andpointol t he cvolut ion of species,cleat hm ar ks
logic al ev o l u ti o n .Wi th i n th e s tri c t c o n fi ncsof i nfbrmati on the- an end to the reprievethat thc pressureof naturalsclcctiongrants
or\, one young biophvsicist,Llenri Atlan, hasrcccntlv proposed to mutantstemporarilvmorc llt than their compctitors to occupv
an ingenio u sa n d c o m p l i c a tc < lrc s p o n s cto thc questi on i n the a certain ecological context. Death opens up avcnues,lrees up
fbrm of u hat hc calls a "noisc-basedprinciple oforder," accord- spacesand clcarsthe rvavlbr novt'l life forms - but this opening is
ing to u.hich self:organizingsvstemsevolvc bv taking advantage illusorv,for one dav the bcll * ill toll lbr todar''ssur.r'ivors
as rvell.
ol " nois e, " o r ra n d o m p c rtu rb a ti o n si n the envi ronmcnt.,\l i ght From t he st andpointof t hc individual,r he genet ichcr it ageis
t he m eanin go f o rg a n i z a ti o nl i c i n th e a b i l i t) to rnakeuseof di s- l i ke a l o an, and deat h is t he t luc dat c uhen t hat loan m ust bc
organization?But rvhv alrvaystwo opposite tcrms? ["Vie," Encr,- rep:ri d .I t is as if , af t cr a cer t aint im e, it ner c t hc dut v ol'individ-
clopaedia,pp. 769a-69b] uals to disappear,to rcvcrt to the statusol incrt matter.
W hv , t hen, did I r r cud'st heor "-of t he "dcat h inst inct , " pr e-
Life and Dcath sentcd in Be,yond fhe Plcasure Prineiple(1920), mect u.ith so much
127] P ar a d o x i c a l l l ,* .h a i c h a ra c tc ri z e sli l e i s not so much thc rcsistance?In Freucl'smind this iclearvasassociatcduith encr-
cxistcnccofthe life functions tlremselvesas thcir gradualdctcri- gcti ci st concept sof lif c and ol't he psvchicpr ocesses,
I f a living
or at ion and u l ti m a te c e s s a ti o n l. )e a th i s rvhat di sti ngui shesl i v- thing i! an unstablc svstem constantly lblced to borrorv energv
ing individualsin the rvorlcl,and thc inevitability of death points from the external environment in ordcr to survive,anclif lil'e is
up thc apparcntexception to the larvsof thermodvnamicsrvhich i n tcns ion r vit h it s nonliving en. r 'ir onm cnt uhat
, is so st r ange
living things constitute.Thus, the searchlor signsofdeath is firn- .rbouthvpot hesizingt he exist cnceol in inst inct t o r educe t hat
damcntally.rscarchfbr an irrefutablc sign of lifc, tensi ont o zcr o, or , put dilf 'er ent lv,a st r iving t or var ddeat h?"lf

l{ ',1
\\'egrant that the existenceofa living thing dcpenclson the prior
t'xistenceof the inanimateobjects h'oln rvhich it arises.it tbllows
I CH,rprrs Frvr

that the death instinct is in accord rvith thc fbrmula statcd ear-
lier ac c or d i n g to rv h i c h e v e rYi n s ti n c t tends to restore a pri or
state." PerhapsFrcud's theory u'ill nou'bc reexaminerlin light
'l Epistemology of Physiology

A B. r r ocl Lr c Phvsiologv

1
of t he c onc l u s i o n so f A tl a n ' s rv o rk : " l n fact, the onl v i denti l i - \
ablc project in living organismsis death. But o\r'ing to the initial
complexity of those organisms.Perturbationscapableot disrupt-
ing t heir t ' < l u i l i b ri u mg i v e ri s e (o s ti l l g re atercompl exi tv i n rht: I
\ er v pr oc esoJfre s to ri n g e q ui l i b ri u m ." z l
F inally , o n e mi g h t a l s o rl i s h to u n d erstandthe reasonfbr,
anclmeaningo1, the reactionaldesire for immortalit\', the dream Objectives ond Methods
ol survival - uhich Bcrgsoncalls a "useful theme ol mvthifica- [28] In 155a,when t he celebr at edJeanlr er ncl( 1. 197- 1558) col-
t ion" - f bu n d i n c e rta i n c u l tu re s . A d e ad tree, a dead bi rd, a lccted his previouslvpublished treatisesunder the titlc Univcrsa
c ar c as s- in d i v i d u a l Ii v e s a b o l i s h e d w i thout consci ousnessof medicino,hc providcd a prcfacedetailing his conception of me<l-
t heir des t i n y i n d e a th . l s n o t th e v a l u e ofl i fe, al ong rvi th the i ci ne' sconst ir ucntelem ent sand it s r el. r t iont o ot her disciplines.
ac k nolv led g n re not f l i fe a s a v a l u e . to o t ed i n kncrn' l edqeot i ts Thc first ofthose elementshe called Pllrinlo11io, an<lunclerthat
csrentialprecariousness/ head lre placed his 1542 treatiseDc noturaliparte medicinioe,fhe
object ol phvsiologv*,as describedas "the nature of the healthv
l)eath(or thc illusionof dclth) makesmen preciousrnri pathetic man, of all his f br cesand all his f inct ions. " lt scar celym at t er s
-fheirghostlvconditionis noving. llvervact mavbe thcir last.Not here that Fernel'sidea of human nature is more metaphvsicalthan
a {accthel makc is not on rhe point of vanishinglikc a faccin a posi ti v e.The point t o be not ed is t hat physic'logy*as bor n in
dream.Evcrvthingin mortalsh.rsthc valueof *hat is irrerrievable 1542asa studr distinct fiom, and prior to, pathoJogv,u hich itsell
antlunprcc!ictable.26 u aspri o r t o t he . r r t sof pr ognosis,hvgieneand t her apeut ics.
Sincethen the tenr "phvsiologv"grarluallvacqtrircdits current
pp. 769b-69c] meani n g:t he scicncc of t he lir nct ionsand lunct ional const aDt s
l"\' ie," F,nc.vclopaedro,
of living organisms.The seventeenthcenturv sa\4,the appearJDce
metlico(Bascl,l6l0)bv Thcorlor
of, amongother works, Ph.vsiologia
(Amstcrdam, 165))
Zu.inger (1553-1588\, Medicinophvsiolollica
bv J.A. Vander-Linden( 1609-1664) and Er ercitotionesph.vsi icoa
olo11
(Lei pzig. 1668) bv lohannesBohn ( 16. +0- 1718)ln. t he cight eenr h
centur\, if Fre(lcri(k I bf-fmann( 1660-17+2)publishedhis Fundtr-

9o
as earl\ as 1718,it *as undeniablv Albrecht
ment.rPh)'siologiae To find out u.hat llcnt on insidc, scvcraloptions rvere avail-
von Hallr:r(t708-1777) uho made phvsiologvan indcpcndcntdis- ablc: one could monitor comingsand goings,introrluccspiesintcr
c ipline of r e s c a rc ha n d s p c c i a l i z e dte a c hi ng.Il i s ci ght-vol ume the household,or sm asht hc r vallspar . t lvor t ot allv in or clert o
l:lementoph.rsiologiac (1757-66\ remaineda classicfbr half .r cen- catch a glimpse ofthe interior. l\16rv'sstatementnot* ithstanding,
tur\'. But it *as evcn car]ier, in 17'17,that von Ilallcr, afier hav- physicianshacllong used such procerlurcsto find out rvhat uas
ing used his teacherIlerman Boerhaave's lnstitutionesmedicinae in goi ng on inside t he anim al or g. r nism .Expcr im cnt at iont hr ough
his coursesfbr nearly twenty years.dccidcd to publish his tirst organablationrvasa naturalextensionol rurgicalcxcision.Andreas
textbook, Primaclineoephvsiologioc, in the introduction to rvhich Vcsalius(151,{-1564),
the founder ol modern anatomv,concludcd
he dc f inc c l p h y s i o l o g vi n a rT ' a vth a t c s t abl i sheclthe spi ri t and his ccfcbratedHumani corporis
labrico (15.13)rvithrcm.rrkson the
method of the clisciplinefbr a long timc to come: "Someonemay uscfirlncssofvivisection and a discussionof its tcchniqucs,in thc
objec t t hat th i s rv o rk i s p u rc l v a n a to m i cal ,bLrti s not phvsi ol ogl courseof u,hich he rcported on experimentsu ith ablation of thc
anatomyin motion?" lF.tutles,pp.226-21) spleenand kidnev in dogs. In thc sevcntcenthcentur\',the mech-
129] It is easvto unclerstandwhv anatomy took prioritv over ani st concept ionol or ganicst r uct ur cscncour agcdt his pr act ice,
thc studv ol organ functions. In manv cascspcople felt that the at oncc premeclitateclancl blind. If thc bo<lv is a machine, one
best wav to undcrstandthc functionsof the organswas to inspcct shoul clb e able t o cliscovcrt hc f ir nct ionsol par t icular par t s, of
t heir s hap c sa n d s tru c tu re s .Stru c tu re su ere macroscopi c,and the mechanism'scogsand springs,bv destrovingpartsanclobserv-
llnc t ions , n o m a tte r h o rv c o m p l e x th e underl vi ng processes, i ng thc dist ur banccor br eakdor vnol't he m achinc'sopcr at ion.
c oulc l be u n d e rs to o db ,va n a l o g i e srv i th man-madei nstruments f"Phvsiologie," Enc.vlopaedia,
pp. 1075b-c]
suggcstc<l bl superficial structural similarities. From thc struc- []01 Il)' 1780, phvsiologyhad finallv outgrown iatromechani
ture ol the eve,lbr example,it l.as possiblcto dcducea feu'crude cal theoriesthanks to thc rvork ol Antoine-LaurentLavoisierancl
notions about the phvsiologvofvision baseclon knon ledgeol'the l-uigi Galvani.Chemistrvand phvsicsrvould supplvthe nerv mod-
construction and usc of optical instruments.But the structure of els. Laws,in the Neu,toniansense,rvoulclreplaccmcch.rnicalthc-
the brain asrevealedbv clissectionimplied nothing about its ftrnc- orems.' l he Nc* t onian spir it , u hich had br eat heclneu lif e int o
tion, becausethere wasno man-madetechnologyor instrumcntto eighteenth-ccnturvscicnce,transformedphvsiologvbv supplving
uiich it could bc compared.When von Haller clescribecl
the pan- i t not so m uch lvit h ner t concept sas uit h ncu m ct hods. l'ir cd
gland," its sccretoryfunction coulcl
creasas "the largestsalivar,v ofrhetorical conf lict , phvsiologist sf ocusedon specif ic ploper -
perhapsbc comparedto that ofthe parotid, but it $'asimpossiblc ti es ol thc vit al f lnct ions. But t he ver v inllr r enceol'Ne\ r t oniin
to go further. In his Elogcol'the surgeonJean M6rv (d. 1722\, sci enccs t ill f bst er eddogm . r t icat t it udcsin lnanvm in( lsof philo-
Fontcnclle rcmcmbcreclone of N{6rv'slrequentlv quotcd statc- sophi calbcnt .
ments: "\Ve anatomistsare like thc dclivcrvmcn of ['aris, r\'ho V i tal ism r vasone r eact iont o t his dogm at ism .Far t oo m uch
knorv cvcn the smallest,most out-of-thc-rvavstrcetsbut haveno i l ] has been spokcn ol vit alism . I t ( lid nor hindcr expcr im cnt a-
icleau hat goeson inside people'shomcs." ti on or th e f or m ulat ionof neu conccpt sin neur ophvsiologv; on

92 9l
r he c ont r a n , i t e n c rru ra g c dp ro g rc s s .Vi tal i sts, emtrl ati ng thc inrcntalismofthe nineteenth ccntury. lt rvasa fiuitful pericrd,as
Nervtonian stvle, fbcusedon thc details of biological flnctions old ideas were explodt'd by nerv experierrce.Bold speculrtion
\1,ithoutspcculatingas to their causes.Thc so-calledMontpellicr $'asthe order ofthe day,and traditionalmethodsgavel\'ayto intu-
Schoof o[vitalists was led bv Theophile dt' Bordeu (1722-1116) ition. It would not bc long before new techniques,many discov-
and P.lrl-JosephBarrhez(1734-1806).Thele \r'asno more mcta- cred trv chance,revealedu hich innovativeintuitions u'erc sound
phvsicsin thev called "vital moventcnt" c-rrthe "vital prin- and rvhich lvere not.
'vhat
ciple" than therc u.asin what Haller called"irritabilitv." Barthez's The per iod'sphvsiologynas as vit al as lit e it self , as m en like
Nouveauxdlimentsde la sciencede I'homme(l77tl)r,r'as in many tays LazzaroSpallanzaniand Armand S6guinexperimentcd on them-
a s v s t c mo f e m p i ri c a l p h v s i o l o g v :" T h e ri tal pri nci pl e i n man," selves,while Robert Whvtt, Ren6Antoine Ferchaultde R6aumur
B ar t hezar g u e d ," s h o u l d b e c o n c c i v e di n trrms of i deasdi sti nct and StephenI lalesper{bnned similar testson fiogs, buzzardsand
lnr m our id c a so l ' th e a ttri b u te so fb o d y a nd soul ." horses.It rvas,in cvcrv senseofthe \r'ord, a bdroguephvsiologr.
Antoine Augustin (lournot seemsto havegraspedthc origi- ["Phvsiologieanirnale." Hstoiregdnerctlc,
vol. 2, pp. 618-19]
nalirv of vitalist phvsiologv:"Vitalism bringsout thc analogiesthat [31] The eighteenth centur,vwas an age not onlv ofenlighrcn-
s f l i fc e x h i b i t i n s u c h astoni shi ngvari cty,and
all m anif e s ta ti o n o ment but also ofprogress,and ol technologicalprogressfirst.rnd
takes them fbr its guide, but does not prctend that it can pene- foremost,[. . .] Inventiveness
andapplicationswerc the watchwords
r r ar c t he e s s e n c co f l i fe ." 2 7T o s tu d y th is " astoni shi ngvari cty," govern ingcxper im ent at ionin physicsand chcm ist r v especiallr .
cighteenth-centurvphrsioJogists looked at thc uhole animalling- Researchersinvestigatcdheat,electricitv,changesof physicalstate,
donr, lrom polyp to nran, from thc lrog to thc orangutan- that chenticalallinities, the dccompositionol matter,combustionan<l
strangemissing Iink that cighteenth-centurvlvritcrs referred lo oxidation,and their resultsoften spilled ovcr into phvsiologv,rais-
as"jungle man," and * hoseIinguisticabilitv and intelligencethev ing ncu problemsfor further investigation.Flectriciryjoined light
s t udic dbv c o m p a ri s o nu i th th c h u ma n . and hea t in suggest inganalogiest hat coulr l be used t o exp) ain
Il'cl.rssicism
in biologl meansrigorousclassificationcombined " vi tal l br ces. "The analvsisof dif f er ent kinds of "air s, " or gascs,
rvith mathcmatical!cr<'ralization. thcn the term does not apply gavepositivecontent to the idea ofexchangesbctlreen or-qanisms
to eightccnth-centuwphvsiologv,* hich tcrokall living rnatter fbr .rnd their envir onm ent . This "pneur nat ic" chcm ist r y r esolved
its subject. It tolerated"in-betrveen"catcgories,as Lcibniz called the once purely speculativcrivalry betu.eeniatromechanistsand
t hem , and i f i t g e n c ra l i z e da t a l l , i t $ a s i n i mi tati on ofl i fe i tsel f, iatrochcmistsin fivor of the latter. New instrumentssuch as rhe
uor k ing en d l c s sv a ri a ti o n so n a s ma l l n u mber ofthemes. It uas a themrometerand calorinretermade it possibleto measureimpor-
picturesr;uescicnce,curior:s about minutiae .rnd about nature's tant bi o logicalpar am et er s.I t wasin 171. t5hat Daniel Fahr cnhejt
ln r nc at e w a )s . solved the technical problenrsthat ha<ldelared the consrruction
Eighteenth-centunphvsiologvstandspoiscdbetrveenthe doc- of sensitivc,reliablt'thcrmometers, and R!aumurfollowt'd r,r'ith
trinaire dignity of the prcviouscentury'smedical svstems,u'hich l urther im pr ovem ent s in l7lJ. I n 1780, I . avoisierand Picr r c-
bore the rvcight ofear)icr dogmas,anclthc rather frenetic cxper- Simon Laplacebuilt a device fbr mcasuringquantities of heat,

9t
T hus , a p rrt l ro m re s e a tc ho n th e n ervous svsteD r,most of' order to show th.rt so large a quantitv ol blood could not possi-
t he m ajor d i s c o v e ri e isn c i g h tc e n th -c e ntunphvsi ol ogruere thc blv bc produced continuouslv by any organ or be dissipatcdbv
rtork, if not of amateurs,thcn of men uhose primary specialtv the organism,Ciovanni Alfonso Borelli uas the first to view the
$ns not m e d j c i n e .Amo n g th c m v v e res u ch namcsas H al es,John circulatory function, bv then well established,as an ideal prob-
B()\nton Prie\tle\, Lavoisicr,R6aumurand Spallanzani. l. . .] Con- l enr to w h ich t o applv t he laus of hvdr aulics. He at t cnr pt edt o
tcmporarv te\ts therelble givc a misleading,altogcthcr too ac.r- calculatethe fbrce of the svstoliccontr.rction.Assumingthat thc
dem ic pic tu re o f th c s ta teo [th e d i s c i p li nc. It i s odd that rvhcn contractive force of a muscle is proportional to its volume and
['ierrc JeanGeorgeCabanispublishedhis survcyof the nerv phvsi- that the vo lum e of t he hum an hear t is equal t o t hc com bincd
ologv in 1804,hr'mentioned only u,orksand experimentsbv ph,-- vol ume of t he nr asset erand t em por al m uscJes,he dct er r nined
sicians,even though he rtas rvell arvarcthat one of the rcasons that the contractive forcc ol the heart is equal to three thousancl
I ir r t he s up c ri o ri tvo f th e n e rv m c d i c i n e w ' asthe contri buti on of Roman pounds(l Roman pound = l1llu ounces).As for the pres-
"thc collateral scicnccs,rvhich are constantlvproviding us vvith
sure thc heart communicatesto the blood, an elaboratcseriesof
nt ' u ins igh tsa n d i n s tru m c n ts ." [...] deducti on sled hinr t o t he ligur e of 135, 000pounds!
The sevenrccnthand eighteenthcenrurici are alike in that both In 1718,Jar r r csKeill ( 1673- 1719)de"ot ed t br et cssavsof his
rterc <lominateclby a singlcgrcat discovery.But Willi.rm Harvev's Tentaminamedico-phvsico tcr the problcms of detcrmining thc
rrork nearly inauguratedhis century, w'hereasLavoisier'snearlv quantitv of blood, its vclocitv and the fbrce of the heart. I le esti-
c lt ' s ed his . l l a rre v i n l e n tc d a m e c h a n i c l l nrodel i n ordcr to (l e mated that t he blood account sf br 100poundsof t he ucight of a
s c r ibconc p h i rn ()me n o nL; a v o i s i c ri n tro d ucecla chemi calmodt' l 160-poundman; the blood in the aorta iravels at a rate of fivc
t o ex pf ain a n o th c r, [" Ph v s i o l o g i e a n i rnal c," H i stortegi ni ral e, fect, three inches per hour; and the forcc of the hcart is nvelvt:
v ol. 2, pp. 59 3 -9 .1 1 ounces.(The modern figures arc that the rvcight of the blood is
r)ne thi rd o l bodv r veight ; t he velocit v of t he blood is t wcnt v
Ci rcu Iati o n inches per second;and the rvork ofthc contraction rvaveofthe
[ 32] T hc r v o rk o f th o s e re f' e rre dto a s " i atromcchani cs" (or, left ventricle is three and a halfounces.)
r guallv ap p ro p ri a te l y ," i a tro m a th c ma ti ci ans" ) rvasconstantl y A skilled experimentalistand a religiouszealot,StephenI Iales
nr ot ilat ed b ! a n a m b i ti o n to d e te rm i n e, through mrasurcment made an i mpor t ant cont r ibut ion t o cir culat or vm echaDicswhen
an<lcalculatirtn,the larvsof phvsiologicalphenomena.This was he published his Staticol Esscrrr,ContainingHaemastoti.sctc.(l7J3l.
the least contcstableof their postulates,morcovcr. 'l he circula- Hc had already written important v',orkson mathematical bot-
tion of the blood and the contraction of the musclcshad alr',,avs anv.I Iis [egetob.lc (1'721\containedillustrationsof instru-
Statichs
been objec tso fp rc d i l c c ti o n i b r th e p h v si ci ans
of thi s school . ments he had built to measurevariationsin sappressurcin roots
ln Dc motLtcordisWilli.rrn Harvcysuntmarizedhis conclusions and branches.From there it was but a short step to measurinll
.rsan anatomistand his observationsasa vivisectionist.He calcu- the pressureof blood in the vesselsusing a manometerconsisting
latcd thc rvcight of the blood displacedbv the hcart simply in of a long glasstube attached by a cannulato the jugular vein or

96
(1590) ol the capillarv circulation in the mcscnter) of fi-ogsand
carotid or crural arterv of a horse, dog or shcep. Hales rvasablc
the tail of tadpolcs assumecl a verl grcat importancc, and so clid
to establishthat the blood pressureis lorvcr in the veins than it
is in t hc arte ri c s(i n th e h o rs e ,th e b l o o d roseto a hei ght of ni ne of the mesentervol a cat (1697).Albrccht
Corvper'sinvestigations
feet lvhen thc cannularvasinsertedinto the crural artery but to von Haffer(De morusanguinh,1752)shou'edthat the hcart'spulse

onlv fifteen inches u.hcn inserted into the jugular vein); that it could bc observedsimultaneouslyin both artcriesanclcapillaries,

fluctuates rvith the svstolcand the diastolc; that it is character- proving that the powcr ol the heart extcndcd to the capillaries.
istic of a given animal species;and that it is a test of the state of H i s theo r y of ir r it abilit y t hen enablcd him - as t he t hcor y of
the hcart. tonicity enabledGcorg Ernst Stahl - to argue that thc shcath o1'
Apart from thc tentative work of Borelli and Kcill, the next thc capillarycan contract independcntll,imparting an additional
rvork of cqtralll great importance uas JeanPoiscuille'sAecierches also contributed ttr
circulatorv impctus to the blood. SpaJlanzani
sur la lorce du coeuraortique(1828). Haller kncrv and spoke of the solution of this problem in a sericsof papers, Surla circula-
the r',,orkof tlalcs but treated it as a development of ideas of tion observiedans 1'universalitidu s,vstimevasculoire,l-esPhenomines
Borclli's, ftiling to apprcciatethe novcltv of the concept of arte- tle la circulotion languissante,I es.llouvementsdu sang indipendants
rial pressure. de I'actiondu coeurand La Pulsat;ondesartires 1171)). ["Physiologie
Thc importanceand originality of Hales'srcscarchshould not, .rnimale,"Hxtolrc gindrale,vol. 2, pp. 601-601]
horvever,cletract from the merits ofthosc uho, follorving him
and building on his results, madc progresstorvard solving some Respiration
of thc major problemsof hcmostaticsand hemodvnamics.Daniel [33] From Robert Boylcs'sNovoetperimentaphysiomcchanica de

B c r noulli, p ro fe s s o ro fa n a to mv a t B a s elfrom l Tl l to 1751,u' as ti otris clasticoet ejusdemeJJectibus (16691,)ohn Mavorv concluclecl,


the first to cxplain correctlv horv to calculatethe rvork done by .rbout l 6?. 1, t hat anim al r espir at ion involvest he f ixat ion ol . r
the heart asthc product of the rvcightof blood expelledtimcs the " spi ri t" cont ainedin t he air . I t is t he event ualdcplct ion of t his
svstolic displaccmcnt. He also made comparativestudies of tht' spirit from the air in a confined spacethat rendersit unlit to sus-
llorv ofliquids in rigid pipesand in living vcssels( l/rdrodvnamica, tain life. ln his Experimentsancl Observtttionson DiJlcrcnt Kinds oJ
(De vi cordis,lT'18),usedHalcs's
1738).His pupil, I)aniel Passavant Air 11774-17),John Bo-vntonPricstley reportcd that a sprig ol
ligures to arriveat a motc accurateevaluationof the work of the mint *,ill rcleaseenoughdephlogisticateclair (oxvgen)to suPPort

heart, onc close to presentlyacceptedvalues. combustionin an invertedbcll jar. In I775, hc infbrmed the Rolal
'lb*ard the end of the seventeenthcenturv, researchers
began Society that clephlogisticatcdair obtained b-vthe samc mcthocl
to invcstigatethe causesof the movement of blood in the veins, coul d sust aint hc r cspir at ionol a m ouse.
rvhich are not clirectlyconnecteclto the arteries.Borelli, though Lavoisier'sfirst invcstigationsof tht' "principlcs" u ith n hich
admitting the forcc of the heart, dcnicd that it \r'assuflicicnt to mctal s c om bine dur ing calcinat ionhad m uch t he sam c aim s as

dr iv e t he b l o o d i n th c v c i n s . H e n c e , thc mi croscopi cexami na- Priestlcv'ssturlies:thc analvsis,dctcction and idcntiflcationof var-

tions bv Marcello 1\'lalpighi(1561)andAntonie van Lecuwcnhoek i ous ki nds of gascs.Thc inf lucncc of t hcscgaseson anim al r cspi

98 99
ration $'as initially conceivedas a kind ofchemical test to study and,lastbut not leasr,digcstion,which rcstoresto the blood n hat
the experimentalseparationof the hypotheticalelcmentsofatmo- i t ha.lor t br r espir ar ion
andt r , r nspir at ion.
sphericair, had been do*ngraded lrom its ancientstatusas
'ihich
an element. Lavoisier'smore systematicstudiesofthe respiration vol. 2, pp. 595-96]
["Physiologieanimale," Histoircgdndrc.le,
of bir ds ( 17 7 5 -7 6 )a n d g u i n e ap i g s(1 7 7 7)enab)edhi m to present
[34] The end ofthe debateover the causesofanimal heat cojn-
to the Acad!miedesSciencesa de{initive paperon changt'sin the cided with the beginningsof a dcbate over the jeat ol the phe-
blood dtrring respiration(M!moitesur leschaneemcnts
que le sang nomenon. L.rvoisicrhad proposed that carbon and hvrJrogenin
Io
tprouvedans lespoumonset su le micdnkme de rcspiration,1777), the blood are oridiztd in the vesselsof the lung bv the action of
Us ing c o mp a ra ti v em e a s u re mc n tso f the vol ume of gas ab- oxvgenon a hvdrocatbonicfluid secretedtherein. Objections to
sorbed.rnd thc quantity of heat relcascdbv guinea pigs placed in thi s vi e w vver eput f br war d in l79l by Jcan- t lenr \ Hr ssenf r at z,
a calorimcter, Lavoisierand Pierre-SimonLaplace werc able to a former assistantol Lavoisierand later a disciple of the mathc-
generalizeall theseobservationsand to state,in 1780, that respi- mati ci an l- agr ange,who descr vescr edit f or having f ir st r aised
ration is nothing other than a slorv form of combustion identi- them, Ifall the heat in thc organismis first relcasedin the lungs,
cal to the combustion ofcarbon. They rlcre rvrong, however,in Hassenfi'atzasked,u,hv don't the lungs drv out? Or, in anv case,
asscrtingthat respiration is the combustion of r:arbonalone, as vvhvaren't they rvarmerthan thc other organsof the bodvi Isn't
l avoisierrr.rsobliged to admit in his 1785 palter Sur lcsalty'rations i t theref or e m or e liLelv t h. r t heat is r eleasedin al) par t s ol t he
qu'dprouve l'oir rcrpird,in rrhich it wasshorvnthat respirntionpro- bodv supplied wit h blood? Accor ding t o I agr ange,pulm onar r
duced not only carbon dioxide from the combustion o[ carbon * it h dis-
bl ood, in cont act u it h inhaledair , becom essar ur at e<l
but also rvaterfrom the combustion of hvdrogen.They u,erealso solvedoxygcn, u'hich then reactswith the carbon and hydrogen
\{,rongto dcrcribe the lung as the locus and seatof combustion, in the blood to vield carbondioxide and \",ater,rvhich.rrercleased
thc hcat from u'hich thev believedrvasdistributedthroughoutthe u ith the exhaledair. This cxplanationis roughly corrcct (except
organismby the blood. fbr the fact that oxidation takesplace not in the blood but in thc
Finallv, aftcr mcasuring, in collaboration rvith Sdguin, who cells themselves),but it wasnot conflrmed experimentallyuntil
volunteere(lto serveasan experimentalsubjcct.energ,rexchanges 18f7, rvhen Gustav )\'hgnusused a mcrcury pump to detcct the
in human beings,Lavoisiersummed up his vierrs in t$'o papers, prescnccoffree gasesin venousand arterial bloocj.
Sur lo rcspirotiondes animaux (1798) and Sw lo trontpirdtion des Furthermore,the posthumouspublication of Jean Senebier's
aninaux ( 1 7 9 0 1 .I l i s d e c l a ra ti o no l p ri n c i p)ei s often ci tedl surIo rcspiration (1803)revealedthat Spallanzaridt-roted
'l'l6moires
thc l .rs rr car sof hi, I ile r ( ) \ \ : \ t cnlat i( er pcr im . nt at i, , r ron r <spi-
oI thcscresultsrsith earlierones:,horvs
Comparison that thc animal- ration in vertebratesand invcrtcbrates,fiom $ hich he. tc,o, con-
nr . r c hi n ei r c o n tro l l e db v th rc c p ri n c i palgovernors:
respi rati on, cluded, afier thousandsofexperiments, that oxyqen is absorbed
rvhichconsumes hydrogenanclcarbonand rvhichsuppliescaloric; and carbon dioxide releasedby all tissuesand org.rns,and that
transpiration,rvhichlluctuatesrvith the requiremcntsofcaloric; amphibians and reptiles may absorb morc oxygen through the

IOO
s k in t han rh ro u g h th c l u n g s . In o th cr \\' ords,i n ani mal s * i th
lungs, thc lungs arc the organ of cxpressionbut not the organ of
exerciscol r function coextensivcu.ith the entirc organism. Bv An Expe r im t 'nt al Science

per f or mi n g c x p c ri me n ts to d i s s o c i a tethe respi rati onfuncti on


evennrole than Lavoisier,
organ,Spallanzani,
from the pulnronar-v
btrt using his mcthodsofcomparativcphysiolog\',laid tht'{Iround-
f or a g e n e ra lp h rs i o l o g v .[" Ph v s i ol ogi cani mal e," H i stoi re
' r ' or k
yllniralc.tol.2, pp. 597-981

New Styles in the Age of Lahoratories


[35] l L clat ionsbet $, ccn t hc f ir st syst em at icallvexper im cnt al
phl si o logv and t hc t hcor et icallv,t hat is, m at hem at ically,m or e
advancc<lphvsicaland chemical scicnccsfbllorveddillelent pat-
tems in france anclCenranr'.Thc flrst vcarof the nineteenthccn-
turv nitnesserl the pubJicationol Recherthes ph.rsiolooiqucs
rur lo
,tieet la nort br' \ar i<r Bichat. n ho stroveto prescn'ctht ciistinc-
ti venessol biologr ''ssubjeccm at t cr and m et hods in t he lacc of
efforts bv ph1'sicistand
s chcm ist s t o annex phlsiologv t o t hcir
ou.n disciplincs.Bichat,thc brilliant lbunder ol gcneralanatomy,
or tl re st udv ol or ganict issues,and a t cnaciouschanr pionof t he
conccpt of t he "vit al pr opcr t ies"of such t issue,had a pr of bund
i nfl uencc on t he f ir st Fr enchphlsiologist st o em br acem et hodi-
cal exp cr im ent ar ion.Alt hough Fr anqoisM agcndie and Claude
B ernar d,unlike Bichat , ncvcr doubt ed t he need r o usc phlsical
anrl ch em ical m ct hor lst o ir r vcst igat cphvsiologicalr nechnnir nr s.
thel ncverceascr)to Lrr:licvc in the uniquenessol orqanicphenont-
ena, Th ir r v. r st he dist inct ir c f i'at ur c, oDc nt ight elen say t hc
nati on al t r . xlcnr ar k,of Fr ench physiology,at a r inr e r vhen phv-
si ol ogv in G er nr anr r . as alr eadr being done, like phvsicsand
chemistry,in laboratoriesequippcd with steadilvirrproving, in-

rol
dustriallv manufacrurede<luipment,rvhile Frcnch physiologists
or i nspir edby, t he llour ishingsciencesol phvsicsand chem ir t r v'
soldiered on u'ith nothing more than the rudimentary facilities deservecrcdit tor
To be sure, Ludrvig and his school in Gernran-v
availableto university professorsand hospital physiciansas per-
their persistentinterestin physicaland chemicalmethods,as n'ell
quisitesof thcir positions.This accountsfor the undeniabiedif-
as their ingenuity in thc constrtlctionand usc of new instruments.
f er enc cin o ri e n ta ti o na n d s ty l e o f rc s e archon ei ther si de of the
Bernarcl's rcsearchseemsrelativelvartisanalbv comParison.lt uas
Rhine. \\rhcn Bernardcompared himself to Hermann von llt.lm-
al so mor e nar r or vlvbiological, vivisecr ionbeing it s <hiel t , . 'ch-
holtz and remarkcd in his notebook that his German colleague
niclue.But it rvould be misleadingto suggestthat therc was.r [un-
lbund only rvhat hc uas looking fbr, he u'asremarking not only
damental difference of national inte]ligencc or genius bet$een
on a diflerence in spirit but also on a disproportion of available
the two countries. Indeed, thc historv of physiologv(not t'r be
means.For, bv this time. nerv discoveriesin physiologyu'ere not s) shous that researchers
conlirscd\r.ith the historv of phvsiologist
to be had on the cheap. This u,asone re.rsonu'hy doctors rvho
in both countries leanred from each otht'r nnd exchangedideas
carne from the Llnitcd Statesto studv in Europe generallv pre-
.rhout how to inrproveexPerimcntalmcthods by borron'ing from
ferrcd to studv u.ith Germanphpiologists,especiallyKarl Luclwig
other d isciplines.Ludwig becam cf am ous.lor exam ple,not only
(1816-1895),ratherthan rvith their Frenchcounterparts.The first
lbr building the mercun pump ftrr separatingblood gasesbut even
phvsiologvlaboratorieswere establishedin rhe United Statesin
more for the construction of the celcbratedkymograph (18'16).
t he 1870 s ,a n d th e y s o o n c o u l d b o a s t offaci l i ti es and equi p- thc ancestorofthis instru-
In ternrsoftechnologicalphvlogencsis,
ment superior to the flnest Europeanlaboraton'es.As physioJogv
mcDt \1assurelythe "hcmodvnamometer"ofJtan Poiscuille.Lud-
laboratoriesgren larger and their equipment more complex, it
u ig's genius u.asto couple Poiseuill."sartcrial manomet('r to a
bccame common lbr rcsearchto be conducted bv tcams rather , \ lar ev( 1830- 1904) sctout
graph icr ecor dcr .Whcn Et ienne- Julcs
than individuals.Researcherswere more anonymous,but the dis-
to develop and perf'ect the graphic method in France, he rvas
cip)ine as a u,hole u'as less dependent on individual strokes of
therefbreindebtedindirectlv to Poiseuilleand dircctlv to [.udrvig.
genirrs.["Physiologic," Encvclopaedia, pp. 1076a-b]
pp.231-32]
IErudcs,
l6] I l p h y s i c sa n d c h e n ri s trl c x c rte dgrorvi ng i nl l uenct' on
l )7 1 Event hough anallt ical t echniquesbor r or vedlr om phr s-
researchin phvsiologv,it was mainll,bt'causcphvsiologistsfound
ics and chcmistry pro'ed fiuitful in Phvsiology,they could not
the cechniquesofthose sciencesindispensableas researchroolsl
di scredit or supplant t hc m et hod t hat Claudc Ber nar d called
though not necessarilvas theoretical models. While Claude Ber-
"operative physiology,"in rvhich vivisection, resectionand abla-
nard's oftcn-repeated claim that physiologv became scientific
tion are usedto disturb the balanceofothenvise intact organisms,
when it becameexperimeDtalneed not be taken strictly lirerallv, 'fhis traditional method $.asuscd bv
Julien Jcan Ctsar Lr:gallois
it is certainly true that thc radical difference betrvccn thc phlsi-
and Fr anqoisl\ 't aqendieear lv in t he ninct cent h cenr ur v and br
ological expcrimentation of the nineteenth century and that of P i errc Flour ens lat er on. G ust av Theodor c Fr it sch and Julius
thc eighteenthcentun lay in thc systematicuse ofmeasuringand
E dw a r d Hit zig used galvanicst im ulat ion of t he cor t ex t o dis-
detcction instrumcntsand equipment borrorvedor adaptcdfrom, tinguish betwecn motor and scnsory functions in the ccrebral

I O,l
to t
_r
EP STEMO OGY
')

lobes( J 870) . F ri c d ri c hGo l tz re fu s c dto a c l m itthe val i di tv of any \\as not altogether dcvoid of unitv of insPirationor Purpose lt
ot her m et hod. \4asthc 5cienceof functional constantsin organisms One sign
l\4ostof thc t'arlv rvork on glandsrelied on ablation. Charles- that it was an authentic scicnce is that from l\{agendieto Sher-
E douar d B r ou. n -S6 q u a rd u s e d i t to s tu d y th e adrenalfuncti on rington anclPavlovu'e find a grcat manYovcrlaPPingstudiesand
( 18. 56) ,Nlor it z Sc h i fl to s tu d v th e th v ro i d functi on (1859 and cliscoverics and a large numbcr of seParateand simultaneousclis-
1883) ,and I : m i l e Gl c v to s tu c l yth c p a ra rh v r oi dfuncti on (1891). coveries(sometimesrvith disputtrsover prioritv, somctimesnot )'
Beforc the active principlcs of the variousendocrine sccretions The historv of physiologvcnjovcrl a relative inrlependenccliom
coulcl be identified (aclrenalinbv Takaminein 1901,thvroxin bv I t m at t er slit t lc r vhet herit r vasSir
thr: hi storv o f Phvsiologist s.
E dr v ar dCalum Ke n d a l l i n 1 9 1 4 ),p h v s i o l o g i ststri ed to ri cmon, CharlesBell or Nlagcndiervho "rc.rlly" discovcrcdthc firnction of
s t r at e t he c hemi c a l a c ti o n s o fg l a n d s trv me ansof organ trans- the spinalnerveroots, rvhether MarshallHall or lolrannesJlliiller
plants. In 1849, fbr examplc, Arnold Adolphe Bcrthold rcvcrsed first discovercclreflcx actions, Emile Du Bois-Revnlonclor ller-
the ellects of castrationin a roosterbv transplantingtesticlesinto mann motor currents,or David Ferrieror Ilermann i\'lunkthe cor-
its peritoncal caviry. In 1884,Schiff transplanteda thvroid lrom tical centcr of vision. As soon as mcthods and Problemsbecome
o nc dog t o anoth e r, th e fi rs t i n s ta n c co fa n opcrati on that had adjuste<Jto each other, as soon as instrtlmentsbecome so highlv
bec om cc om m o n p l a c cb v th c c n d o f th c c e n turv. specializcdthat their verv use imPliesthc acccPtnnceol comnlon
The techniquesof operati.r'e phvsiologvu ere used in conjunc- uorki ng hv pot hescs,it is t r ue t o sav t hat scienccshaPcsscicn
tion rvith the ne.rr.mcthods of (tec rrophvsiologyto map thc func- ti sts j ust as m uch as scient ist sshapescience.[ "I 'hvsiologic en
ti ons ol nc r v c bu n d l c si n th e s p i n a lc o r< la n d t o producean atl as Alfemagne," ITistotrc gindrale,vol. ), pp. +lt2-8'11
of cercbr.rllLnctions.CharlesScott Sherrington'sdiscoveries.rvcre
basedon very preciseoperativctechniquesinvolving difTcrentia) Physiology ls Not an Empirical Sciencc
sidc of cxperimtrn-
"prcparations" (decorticated,riccerebratcdand dccapitatcdani- [38] b concentratesolelvon the instrumcntal
m als ) . I n s t udy i n gth e fu n c ti o n so fth e s v m p a theti cnervoussvs- tati on \\!ul d be t o give a m isleadingidea ol t he clevclopm cntof
tc m , phv s iologi s tsre l i e d o n v i v i s c c ti o n l o n g bel brc turni ng to nineteenth-centurvphlsiology, though. Some historical skctches
chemicalmethods u ith .lohn Novport l-anglev.It wasvivisection and methodologicalmanifistousgire thc irnpressionthat instnr-
th at enabled CI a u d e B e rn a rdi n 1 8 5 .1to d e m onstratethc rol e mcnts and the tcchniques that useclthem rvere someho\\ idellt'
pJayedby thc svmpathericsvstemin calorification(regulatingthe 'ib be sure, tlsing an instrument obligcs thc user to subscribeto
cir c ulat or vf low i n th e c a p i l l a ri c s ),[...] a hvpothesisabout the firnction under studv. For cxample, Emile
Despite the f;ct that some of its grcatesrrcpresentatives_ Du Bois-Reymontl'sinductive slide phvsicallrembodicsa certnin
Bernard,lbr instance- insistedthat phvsiologvl,as an indepen- idca of the linctions of ncrve anrl muscle, but it is hardlv a sub-
dent discipline rvith methodsof its orvn, l.lrilc othersstressedits sti tute fbr that idca: an inst r um ent is an aicl t o explor at ionbut
subordinationto physicsand chemistrv (Karl Ludu,ig) or mathe- ol'no use in fiaming qucstions. l-hus,I cannot agrce\\'ith thos(
matics (Hcrmann von Helmholtz), ninetecnth-centunphvsiologv hi stori ansof phvsiologr , , Pr of cssionalas ut 'll as am at cur , \ nho

ro 6 t0 7
would outdo even Claudc Bernard'sopen hostility to theorv by
reflects an instinctive need to re(:onstitutethat PrototYPeof all
ascribingall progressin nineteeDth-centuryphysiologyto exper_
di ets, milk.
inrenration.The theories that flernardconclemnedwere systenls
If the wor k of Her m ann von elm holt z dom inat edr he physi-
such asanimism and vitalism, that is, doctrinesthat ansiverques_
ol ogy of t he sensor vor gansin t he ninet eent h cent ur y, it was
t ions bv in c o rp o ra ti n gth e m , F o r B e rn a rd,dara col l ccti on and
becausehe, justly renorvnedas an inventor of instrumcnts (such
researchwere to be distinguished from fruitpicking and stone
as thc opht halm oscopein 1850) .r vasan ingeniousexPer im ent al-
quarrving: "To [re surc," he rlrotc, "many rvorkersare useful to
ist rl'ith a broad mathematical background that he orved to his
sciencerhough their activitiesbe limited to supplyingit with rarl,
training asa phvsicist.When a mathematicalmind turns to natu-
or empirical data. Nevertheless,the true scientistis the one who
ral sciencc,it cannot do r vit hout ideas.A st udent of Joh. r nnes
takesthe rarv materialand usesit to build sciencebr, litting each
M0ller. rvhoselarv of the spccific energv ol the ncrves.rnd sen-
fact into place and indicating its significancewithin the scien_
sory organsguided all the period's thinking about psychophvsi-
tific edifice asa u'hole."28Furthermore, the IntrcductionA litude
ol ogy, Hclm holt z *as able t o com binc his o$'n insist enceon
clela midecineexpirinentale(18651is a long pJeaon behalfofthe
ralue oficleasin research,with the understanding,ofcourse, thar measurementand quantificationu ith a philosophicalundcrstand-
ing of the unity of nature that he took fi"om his teacher,whose
in s c ic nc ea n i d e a i s a g u i d c , n o t a s tra i tj a cket.
influence is apparcntin all of Hclmholtz'su'ork on muscular*ork
W hile i t i s tru e th a t e m p i ri c a l e x p cri mentati on enabl ed
M agendiet o e s ta b l i s hth e d i fl i :rc n c e i n functr.onbetu.eenthe anclheat. lfthe 18,18paperon the principal sourccofheat in the
$orking nruscJercpotts dataqathcred u,ith temPeraturt-Dreas(lr-
ant er ior anc lp o s tc ri o r ro o ts o f th e s p i n alcord i n 1g22. i t must
ing instrumentsspeciallvdesignedby Helmholtz himsell, his 1847
be grantcd that Sir CharlesBell had not found it unhelpful eleven
rvork on the conserv,ltion of forcc, Uber die Erhohung der Krot't,
vearsearlier to rely on an "idea," namely,his ldea oJa Nev Anot_
rvasinspired by a certain idea of the unity ofphenomena and the
om y oJ t hc B ra i n(l 8 tl ): i ftrv o n e n e s i n n crvatethc samepart of
inteliigence thereof.
the body, their efli'cts must be differcnr. The spinal nervcshave
In his flnal lectures at the l\{usdum, published by Dastre as
both motor and scnsory f'unctions,hence different anatomical
Leqonssur lesphinominesde la vic communsaur animou\ et au\
structures.Given that the spinal cord has r$.o roots, each must
vdgdtoux(1878-79\, Claude Bernald discussed,along with other
be a firnctionallr differcnt nerve.
key ideas,the unity of the vital lunctions:"There is onh one rvav
A lt houg h th e e a rl i c s t re s u l t: i n th e p hrsi ol ogv of nutri ti on
of life, one physiology,lbr all living things." Bv then, this idea
came from.lustus von Licbig's chemical analysesand Magendie's
epitomizcd his life's u'ork; carlier, hou'ever,it had sureh guidcd
investigatjonsof the el}'ectsof dilicrcnt diets on dogs, rhe rvork
hi s rescar ch.I n t he l8. l0s, it had encour agedhim t o challenge
of W illiam P ro u t (1 7 8 5 -1 8 5 0 )o n s a c c h a ri des,
fats and al bumi ns
the conclusionsreachedbv Jean-Baptistc Dunlasand JeanBaptiste
in the human diet crnnot be said to havesufferedfiom thc fact
Boussaingaultin their Stotiquechiniguc (1841),much asvon Liebig
that his rvork wasguided by an "idea," namelv,that what humans
wasdoing at the sametime in Gennanv.Dumasand Boussaingault
eat , r v hc t he r i n tra d i ti o n a l d i e ts o r c a rc f ul l vcompost,dnenus,
had arguedtlrat animalsmerclv break dorvn organic compounds,

r o8

J
T
uhich onlv plants could svnthesize.Bcrnard,horvevcr.described get that, i t is easvt o conf useexper im ent at ionr vit h em pir icism .
ali his rvork on rhc glvcoqenicfunction ,rf rhe liver,fiom thc lg.lll pp. 232-35]
IEru</es,
paper reaclto the Acadimie des Scicnccsto the doctoral thesis
ol l85l, as a c o n s e q u c n c co f rh e .rs s u m p ti onthat therc i s no di F Accidents, the CIinic ond Sociolizotion
fcrencebetu,eenplantsarrdanimalsrvith rcspectto their capacitv [39] It i s im possiblet o u'r it e t he hist or l ol r andom evcnt s,and
t o s v nr hes iz e
" i n tt' rmc d i a rep ri n c i p l c s _ "In d eed,tht,rc i s no hi er_ i fsci encc \ er e pur ely cnr pir icalit r vould be im possiblct o r vr it e
arch,vof plant and animal kingdoms; still more radically,I3crnard the histor) of sciencc.One must havea rough scnseof periodiza-
clairred that fiorn rhe standpointofphrsiologl there are no king_ tion to benefit lrom anecdotalcviclence.Researchon digestion
c lom s . He r c ftrs e dto b e l i e v c th a t th e re w as somethi ng pl .rnts ofl ers a g ood exam ple oI t his. A gr ear deal r vaslear nccl. r bout
c or r ld do t hat a n i n ra l sc o u l d n o t. l n a n s l re ri nghi s cri ti cs bv rc_ digestivephvsiologr in thc secondhalfol the ninetecnth century,
Jectlnga certain conception of the division of labor anrongorgan_ disco"ere,Jhorv tcrusegastricfistul.rsto perlirrnr
.rfier rcse.rrchers
isms, Bernardmar havercvcaledthe (not vcrt,ntvsterious)secret the experimentson rvhich todav'sunclerstandingof digcstion is
ol his s uc c es sT
. o b e s u re , B e rn a rd ' sb c l i e f u,.rsa,.fccl i ng,,.not bascrl.After 1890, in particular. Iran ['a' lov nradcgood use ol a
an "argument," as he stated in the lcqons de phvsioloqie expdri_ techni quet hat he him self had lr clped t o per f cct . But t hat t cch-
mcntaleoppliguie d lo nidccinc (1855-56;. It rlas not cven a *.ork_ ni r;trc had bcen pioneer cr l,sim ult anr ouslvbut quit r : indr pen-
ing hypothcsisconcerningthe functions of some organ. But even derrtl v,by VassiliBassovin 1842 and Nicolas Blondlot in Tr oir l
if it u' asnot s tri c rh D e c e s s a r,v to h o l d th i s b cl i cf.i n orrl er ro di s_ (lnalt,tique,1cIo ditlestion,considtrdcpotticuliircnent dans I'honnte
covcr the liver's glycogenic firncrion, the facr that Uernard ct l cs ani ndu\ ver t dbr di( 18, t ] ) . r e Near ly t r vo cent ur . icsear . licr ,
dirl
hold it hc lpc d h i n r to t-m b ra c ea n i n rc rp retrri on ol .hj s resul ts Rcgnerdc Graafhad sucrt'ssfullr produced a pancreaticllstula in
t har m os t of his c o n te mp r.rra ri cl bs u n d < l i s c oncerti ng. a dog (Dirpulrrriomediccr
dc natLtroct utu suc(ipdncra(lttci,1661),
These eramplcs. dra* n {iom variousflclds of research,shorv but no one everattempteclthc sameoperation rvith othcr organs.
t h, r r .ex pc r im e n ta l i rtsn c e d n o t p rc tc n d to b e pure empi ri ci !ts, R cnc A ntoinc Fer chault<lc Ri. r um ur 'sexper inr cnt sin 1752anci
lvorking *,ithout icleasof anv kind, in order to makc l-azzaroSpallanzani'sin 1770,both ofrvhich haclbcen perfirrmed
progress.
llt'rnardobservcdthat the expu-inrentalist.r,ho dcresn,t in orclerto <lecidrbetrlcclr van I lclmr>nt'schcnrical.rnd Borclli's
knorv rvhat
he is look ing f b r w o n ' t u n d e rs ta n du .h a t h e fi nds. The mechani calcxpl. r nat ionol digest ivephcnonr cna,involved t lr e
acqui si -
tion ol scierrtillc lnow.leclgercquires a ccrtain kind of col l ccti on of gast lic juiccs lr om t he csophagus
hr ingeniouslr ut
luci<iitr.
Scientific discovcrvis more than indiviclualgood fbrtune roundaboutm eans;neit hcr m an secm sr o havct hought of int r o-
or accl_
dent algood luc k : h e n c e ,th c h i s ro r.,r.oslc i e nccshoul d duci ng an ar t if icial f ist ulaint o t he st om r ch. f be invent ionol t he
l > t,a hi s_
torl of the formation, delormation and rcctification of arti fi ci algast r ict ist ulali'llo*cr l t lr e Am er icanphysicianWilliam
scientific
c onc c pt s .S inc es c i e n c ci s ; b ra n c ho fc u l trrrc , educati on B eaumonl'spubJicat ionof his obser vat ions of . r Canadianhunt er ,
i s a prt,_
r e< luis it eof s c ie n ti fi c d i s c o v e rr.,
W h a t th e i n di ri dual sci cnti sri s A l exi s S aint - M ar t in,*'ho, alier bcing shot in t he sr om ach,pr c,
c apablcof dc pe n d s o n rv h rt i n fi -,rma ti o ni s avai l abl e; sentcd w i th a st om ach list ula r vhoseedgcsadhcr eclt o t he ab-
i frvc fi rr-
dominal rvalls.Beaunronr,havingtaken the man into his cmplov,
Addison'sdiseaseor surgervon goiters, it is impossibleto make
reported his observationsof contractions and gastric secretions
senseof progressin unrlerstandingthe physiologvof the adrenal
in a paper entitlcd "Experimcnrs and C)bser\ationson thr: Gas-
and thvroid glands.The u ork of rhe phvsiologistBrorvn-sequard
t r ic J uic e a n d th c Ph v s i o l o g yo f D i g e s ti on' ,(1g33). The hi storv
often beg. r nwit h som e m edical linding; and in t his r espect it
of surgcryollers ferv other casesof spontaneousstomachfistulas,
diflered sharplyfrom the work ofcertain othcr phvsiologists,
such
and none u.asobscrvedin any rvay comparable to Beaumont's.
asClaude Bernard.IErr.rrles, pp. 2 36-38]
Thus, an accident suggesteda mcthod of experinrent_ one that
[40] Dise.rse\.\,rsnot thc phvsiologisr'srrnlv source ot scien-
Bassovand Blondlot rvould later make systematicuse of. It was
tific challenges.Healthv individualsare neither idle nor inert and
no accident,hou-cver,rhat this originalaccidcntlvasfirst patiendy
cannot be maintained artificiallv at the beck and call of ingen-
ex ploit c d a n d l a te r i n tc n ti o n a l l y re p roduced,The chemi stsof 'l- he healt hv per son t oo
i ous or rcst lessexper im ent alist s. is, by
t he per iod w e re i n te n s e l vi n te re s tc di n the chemi cal composi _
definition, capabJeof carryingout tasksset by naturean(l culture.
tion of fbodstuffs,and this had led to interest in the chemistry
In the ni net eent hcenr ur y,t he dcvelopm cntof indust r ialsocie-
of digestivesccrerions.The flrst chemicalana)rses ofgasric juices ti es i n E urope and Nor t h Am er ica led r o r he socializar ioD.
and
uerc undertakcnbv Prout (1824). Hou.evcr,becauseph,,siologists
thereforepoliticizatitrn,of qucstions<rfsubsistence, diet, hvgiene
neededto obtain thesejuices, uncontaminatcdby foo<lparticlcs,
.rnd u'orkerproductivitv.It is no acci(lentthat problemsoI energy
in consiclcrablequantities,they had to figure out ho\a,to retricve
utilization arosearounclthis time, especiallyin Germanl,in rcgarrl
t he juic es i t rh e m o m e n t o fs e c re ti o n . fhey al sohad ro l l nd
the to both th e st enm engin( 'and t ht 'hum an r ) r ganism The
. sam e
right anim.rl to stud), (,nc rvith an appropriateanatomical
ltruc- doctor, Julius Robert von Maver, rvho proveclthat energy could
turc and digcstivepatterns.
Dot be destroyedbut onlv convr:rtcdfiom one fbrm to another
Thus, accidentsand unfbresceneventssornetimesgive rise to
(J842) - Ir om wor k r o heat , or vice ver sa- also publisbedt he
Deu t ec hD i q u e so f o b s e rv a ti o na n d n re rhodsofresearch.
One rcsul ts ol his r csear chon diet ar v ener get icsin 1845. His wor k
thing le.rdsto anothcr. Similarlv,scientiflc problems sornerimes
confirmcd that of von l-icbig, n'hose researchon organic chem-
ar is e in on e d o m a i n o r fi e l d o f s c i e n c eonl v to be resol vedi n
i stry as app lied t o phvsiology( lli42) r clat ed r hc calor if ic values
another.For c'xample,the history ol phvsiolr_rgv cannot be entirelv of vari ousnut r ient s such as f ir s, sugar sand pr ot eins lo var ious
div or c ed f i o m th e p a ra l l e lh i s to ri c so fth e cl i ni c anrl ot.rnedi cal
organic phenomenainvolving expendituresol energv; thesc rc-
pathologv.And it w.asnot alrvaysphvsiologythat instructcd
path- sults rverefLrther elaboratecland refined bv Marcellin Bcrthelot
ologv : r ela ti o n sa mo n g th e d i s c i p l i n e srv erecompl ex. C onsi der
( l E 79) and l\ 1axRubner and Wilbur O lin A r war er( t 904 ) .
[i-rra nroment the historv ol nervousand endocrine phvsiology
in S i mi l arly,t echnologicalpr ogr . ess
and econom ic changehad
rhe ninetccnth century. Clinical obsenation revealedfunctional
subjectedhuman beingsto extreme conclitions.Peoplehad bccn
disordersand disturbancesrhat physiologistsnr first foun,Jdiffi_
l brced, i n \ {ar and peace,t o cndur c cxt r cm gs of t em per at ur e,
cult to explain,fbr they couJdnor ideDtifi u.hat repularon nrech_
to uork ar high altitudes, to dive ro grear depths; orhers chorc
anism had gone a\r-ry,Without the history of clinical rvork on
to subj ect t hem selvesvolunt ar ilv t o ext r em c condit ions, as

rl l
in s por t . - lir c i te j u s t o n c c x a mp l e ,Pa u l Bert' sresearchon anox-
c nr ia at high a l ti tu d e (1 8 7 8 ) p a v c d th c w av for l ater studi esof
plrenonrenathat had to be understoodbcfbre intercontinentalpas- Thc Nlajor Pr oble m s of
sengerl-Jightcoulcl become routine. ["Physiologie," Enc.vclopae-
dia, p. 1076c-11a) N in e t e e n t h - C e n t u r v [ 'h v s io log r

Bioenergetics
[-11]The r esolut ion,t hr ough chem ist r v,r r f an age<r ldpr r r blt nr
ol ' phvsi ologv f or ced phvsiologist st o conf r ont a pr . r blenr t hat
phvsicshad yet to resolve:Hor,, can energv exist in a v.rrietyol
( l( pcn( l on f hc conser v. l-
l i rrnrsTl n Car r csianm echanics, 5t at ics
ti on of uor k, and clvnanr ics oD t he conser \ r t ion of nr ( ) r nent um
(mr' , massr im es velocit v) . Leibniz. in his clit ique ol C. r r t esir n
mcchanics,considcrcdthe quantit\ nir'l (masstirres the sguareof
\el oci t\, \ ahich he called t he "live f br ce") t o be a subst ar . r cc.
t hat
i \, nn i nva r iant ,but hc f ailcd t o not c t hat in anv r cal nr echanical
sYsteminr,olvingf;iction, this quantitv does not J'enr.rin cor)stanl,
due to thc gcncr at ionand loss of heat . The eight eent hcent ur r
Iiilcd to formulate thc notion of conscrvationof cn,.'rgv.At tht:
beginning of the nineteenth ccnturv, tl\'o firrms of energr nere
rccognizcd:the energvof motion (kinctic or potential) and heat.
But observationsmade bv techniciansand engineersconcerning
the operation of thc steam engine, the boring ofcannon Lt.rrrels
and so on lcd to studv ofthe rclationsbctrvcenrvork an<lhe.rt.
' fhe fi r st
per son t o asser tt hc indest r ucr ibilit v and, const , -
qucntlv, the conservationof energv through varioustransfornr.r-
tions rvasthc German plrvsicianvon Maycr, rvho baseclhis r lairns

I Ir l
llt
nutrition: IIenri Victor Regnaultand JulesReisetpublishedtheir
on medical obscrvationsmade in Indonesiain 1840 havingto do
rvith the influcnce ofheat on the oxidation ofblood ln 1842,von Recherches chimiquessur la respirationdesanimoux de diversesclosses
i n 1849 , and t heir r esult s wer e lat cr cor r obor at ed by Eduar d
Licbig published a theoretical papcr by Maver, entitlcd "Bemer-
Pfliiger's researchon thc contribution of each nutrienr to the
kungen tibcr die Krafte der unbelebtcnNatur," in the ,4nnalender
total input of nutritional energv,that contribution being mea-
Chemieund Pharmocie,but it attracted little attention initiallY.
I n 1843,J a me sPrc s c o tt l o u l e u n d e rtook to determi nc cxperi - sureclin each caseby the so-calledrespiratoryquotient. In 1879,

mentalll thc mechanicaleqtrivalentofthe calorie, and in an 1849 Berthelot systematizcdthese results in his Essaide mdcanique

paperread before the Roval Societl he claimed rcsponsibilitvfor thimique,andhe also formulatedthe lavv,s
of animal energeticsfor

a discoveri-- and J\{ayerthen f'elt compellcd to dispute his claim organismsdoing external work and fbr those simply maintaining

ofprioritl. In 1847,rncanrvhile,von Helmholtz also published a thcmsclves,Finallv,Rubner, through cxperimenrswith dogs car-

paper entitled "Uber die Erhaltungder Krafi." ried out benveen 1881 and 1904, and At\r'ater, through experi-

Maver'srvork actuallylvasmore oriented tolvard biology than ments u 'it h hum an bcings conduct ed bet wecn 1891and 1904,
rvere Ied to generalizethe resultsofearlicr wrrrk on the conscr-
Joule'sand rlas therefbremore significantfor thc history of phys-
vati on of ener gv in living or ganism s.
iology. In 1845, Maver published the results of his researchon
dietarv energcticsunder the title "Die organischeBewcgungin A s fo r t he second law of t hcr m odynam ics,conccr ning t he

ihren Zusammcnhangmit dem Stoffivechsel."Earlier, in 1842, riegraclation ofcncrgv, it rvasofcoursc first fbrmulateclby Nicolas
von Liebig had published his Organiscie Chemieund ihte Anwendung S adiC ar not in 182. 1but lit t le not iced at t he t im c. Benoit Pier r e

und Pathologie,in which he demonstrated, through


aul Ph,ysiologie [mi l e Clapeyr ont ook it up againin 183. 1,wit h just as lit t lc suc-

investigationof the caloric content of variousnutrients, that all cess;then at mid-century,fbllorvingfurther research,it was redis-
vital phenomenadcrive their energyfrom nutrition. covcrr:dby both Rudolph.fuliusEmmanuellClausiusand William
' I' homs on( l, ot d Kelvin) . O r ganism s,
T he uo rk o f Ma y c r a n d v o n L i e b i g actual l y cl aborated on like ot her phvsicochem ical
systcms,confirm the valiclityof thc sccond lar,',u'hich statcsthar
s t udies de s c ri b e de v e n c a rl i e r b y T h 6 o dore de S aussurci n hi s
transformationsof energv- fbr our purposes,those taking place
Recherches chimiquessur la vigdtotion(1804). Henri Dutrochet,
rvithin living cells - are irreversib)e,
due to an increasein entropv.
aftcr establishingthe lau,s of osmosis(1826), shou'edthat res-
Organisms,though,arc mechanismscapablcof reproducingthem-
piratorl phcnomenav"'ereidentical in plants and animals(1837).
selvcs.Like all mechanisms,thev arc capableof doing rvork, of
When the Acad6micclesSciencessponsoreda competition on the
accomplishingtransfbrmationsthat are structuredand, thcrcfore,
origins of animal heat in 1822, nvo Frenchmen,C6sarMausuite
lessprobablethan disorganizedmolecularagitation,or hcat, into
Despretz, a physicist,and Pierre Louis Dulong, a physician,at-
u hi ch a ll ot her f or m s of ener gvdegr adcr vit hout possibilit yof
tempted to reproduceLavoisicr'sexperiments.Dulong found that
revcrsal.While it is no longer possibleto accept Bichat'sfbrmu-
the eflects of respiration*'cre not enough to account fbr the full
lation that "lif'e is thc collection of functions that resist death,"
quantity of heat produced.This fbnned the startingpoint for fur-
one can still saythat living rhings are systcmsu.hoseimprobable
ther rvork to determine the amount of energy contributed by

t l6 tt7
organizationslous a universalprocessofevolution torvardther- i nvesti gat iont hat had been applied t o t he phcnom cnaof nut r i-
mal ccluilibrium - that is, tor,'artla more probablestate,dcath' tion, assimilationthrough svnthcsisof specific compouncls,dis-
To surn up, then, the studYof the organism'stransformations i ntegra t ionand clim inat ion.[ . . . ]
of the energv it borr<trvsfrom the environtncnt \ras the \\'ork of At the beginningof tht'ninctccnth centur!',nothing \1ir kno$'n
chemisrsasmr.tchasofphlsiologistsin th( strict sense.L)ur under- about the f unct ionsof t he spleen,t hym us,adr cnalglandsor t hr -
\ t anding o l th e l .ru s o f c e l l u l a r mc ta b o l i smprogressedi n paral - roi d. Th e f ir st glim m cr of liqht c. r m eat m i( l- ccnt ur \ in connec-
lcl u ith thc svstem,rticstudr ol the compoundsofcarbon, *hich ti on u i t h Ber nar r l's
r t sear chint o t he digest ionanr labsor pr ionol
ler l t o t hc u n i l l c a ti o no fo rg a n i c c h e mi s trl rvi th i norgani cchem- sugari n t he int est ine,r uhichr cvcaledt he hit her t o- inconceivable
is t r r ' .F r ie rl ri c hW o h l c r' ss y n th e s i so f u re ai n 1828l cnt ne\l rP rcs- function ofa glanrl r. hoseafllnitv vvith thosejust n'rcntioned\4as
tige to the central idcasand methodsof rrrn I iebig and his school. unsuspcctcd.Moritz Schifl wasalso lr-orkingon hepaticglvcogcn-
But von Liebig'sthcorv ol' lermcntation, lvhich rvasassociatedin esisand fermentation in Bcrne in 1859 rvhen hc rliscoveredthe
his mind rvith the studv ofthc biochemicalsourcesofanimal heat latal eff'ectsofdestroving the thvroicl,a result for rvhich he could
( 1840) , u rru l d l a te r b c c h a l l e n g e db y Loui s P asteur,* ho uas provi de no explan. r r ion.I t r vasm uch lat cr , in G enevain 188J,
rightlv loath to believc that fermentation phenomena\r'creinor- that S chif f ,r evisit inglr ir car lierexper im ent sin t h<.light of Em il
ganic pro<essc'r,b,r nature akin to death, and thcrcfbre unrelatc<l Thi rodor e Kocher ar r r lJa<quesLouis Rever din'r r r or k on t he
to the specific.rcrivitiesof microorganisms.IErurlei,pp. 250-62] of sur gicalexcisionol goit cr s( m vxedem at ous
sccl uel lac cachexi. r ,
postoper at ive m vr cdcnr a) ,had t he ider of t r ansplant ingt he t hr -
Endoc ri nology roi d i n or der t o conlir r n or r elut e t he hypot hcsist hat t hc glancl
[ a2] T he te rm " e n d o c ri n o l o g y ," d u c to N i chol as P cncl c,rvas somchor vact ed chenr icallvt hr ough t he blood. \ r ict or Alcxander
c oiner Jon l y i n 1 9 0 9 ,y e t n o o n c h e s i ti testo use i t to rcl er, ret- llaclen Horsclv successlirllyperfbrmetl thc same erperiment on
roacti\elv, to anl discovcrvor researchrelntcd to internal secre- an apc in 188.1;()dilon Nlarc [-annelonguerepeateclit ldr thcra-
tions. \\brk on thcse secretionsin thc ninetecnth centurv was peutic purposeson a n.ranin 1890.In 1896,EugenBaumanniden-
not as far-rcachingas nork on the nervous system,vet the verY ti fi cd an or ganic cnnr pound of iodine in t he t hlr oid. I n 191, 1,
be sccn toda,vasthe
original nature ofthat u'ork can nevertheless Eduard Calum Kend:rll isolatcd the active principle in thc fbrm
causeand ctlect ofa veritablc mutation in phrsiologicalthought. ol crysta llizable
t hyr or in. Thus, alt houghr esear chint o t he lLnc-
-I'hat is the succinct term "endocrinologl-"se('rnspref'erablc tion ol thc thyroid beganin thc phvsiologist's
'r,hv laboratorl,the solu
t o anv c ir c u m l o c tl ti o n , fi on i nvolved t hc clinician'ser . r nr iningr oom and t he sur geon's
t'aradoxically, thinlis to tht uork ofClaude Bernarrl,the phvs- operatingroonr.
ioJoeicalproblcm posedby the existenct'olglandsrvithout excrc- l n th e cast ol t he aclr enalgland, t he point ol- depar t ur ef ir r
ton ducts - ()rgans,originallv knou'n as "blood-r'essclglands," rcsearchlav in clinical obscr-vations made bctuccn l8-lt) rnd 1855
r v hos r f: n c ti o n s c o u l d n o t b c d e d u c e dl i onr anaromi cali nspec- by Thomas Addison and r epor t cd iD a paper ent ir led "f ) n t hc
t ion - $n \ s o l v e db l u s i n g th c s a m es tri ct D )ethodsol chemi cal C onsti tut ional and Local Ef f ect s of l) iscascof t he Supr a- r enal

r r8
read to the than an explanatorvrole in physiology:it distinguishedthe con-
Capsules."In 1856,Charles-EdouardBrorvn-Sequard
cept ofa gland from that ofan excretory organ, But a hormone is
Acad6mic des Sciencesa seriesof three PaPerson "Recherches
a more generalconcept than an internal secretion:a hormone is
c x p6r im t n trl c s s u r l a p b v s i o l o g i ee t l a pathol ogi e des gl andes
a chcmical messenger,rvhereasan internal secretionis simply a
surr6nales,"in rvhich he reported on thc lethal ellects of rcmov-
distribution or dilhrsion. Furthermore,the hepatic flnction, the
ing the capsuJes asr"ell asofinjecting normal aninralsI'ith blood
fi rst-kn owncxam pleof an int er nalsccr et ion,is specialrit plact 's
t ak en lio m a n i n ra l su h o s e " c a p s u l e s "had been rcnroved.A s a
a procc ssednut r im ent , a m et abolit e, int o cir culat ion, I n t his
result, Brorvn-stquardhvpothesizcdthat thc capsulessomehou
sense,theie is a dit'ferenccbetween the endocrine secretion of
produced a chcmical antitoxic ef'f?cton the comPosition of the
the liver and that ofthe pancreas:the function ofone is supplr,
blootl. That sameyear,Alfred Vulpian reported his obsenations
of the ot her , consum pt ion. lnsulin, like t hvr oxin. is t hc st im u-
in a papercntitled "Sur quelqucsr6actionspropresi la substancc
lant and regulatorof a global mechanism;it is not, strictlv spcak-
des capsulessu116nales."The cortical cclls reacteddif'ferentlvto
ing, an intermediar.v,energ,v-ladencompound. Thus, to credit
various dves than the medullarv cells did, from rvhich Vulpian
Bernard as the author of the fundamental concept of modern
concluded that the latter, which turned gret'n rvhen cxposedto
erndocrinologyis not false,but it is misleading.The concept that
ir on c hlo ri d e , s e c re te da c h ro mo g e n i csubstance.Thi s rvasthe
proved fruitful lr'asthat of the internal environmcnt, u hich, un-
first hint of thc cxistenceof rvhat rvould one dav be calledadren-
like the concept ol intern.rlsecretion,was not closelr.rssociated
aline. ln l i i 9 3 . J e a n -Emi l eA b e l o u sa n d P au)Langl oi sconfl rmed
rvith a specific function; rather, fiom the flrst ir was idcntilic'tl
Brorvn-Sd<1uard's experimcntal results. ln 1894, GeorgesOliver
rvi th anot herconcept , t hat ot 'a phlsiologicalconsr ant .! \ 'hen it
to the London Phys-
.rnd E<lrvardAlbcrt Sharpey-Schifer.reptrrted
turned out t hat living cells depend on a st ablcor ganic envir on-
iologic.rlSocietvon their obsen'ationsof thc hypertensiveeffects
mcnt, which \Valter BradfcrrdCannon named "homeostasis" in
of injt'cting agueousadrenalextract. In 1897.John-lacobAbel iso-
1929,the logical possibilityaroseof transfbrmingthe t:onceptof'
latcd a hypertensivesubstancefi'om thc atlrenalmcdulla, u'hich
internal sccrction into one ofchemical regulation.Once the fun-
he calledepinephrinc.In 1901,Tikamine obtainedu'hat hc called
damental idea rvasclear, researchon variousglantlsquickly led
adrcnalinein crystallizableform, and Thomas-BellAldrich in that
to the i c lent if icat ion. r nd
( at least )qualit at ivedescr ipt ionof t heir
samcvearprovidcd the formula.Adrenalincuas thus the flrst hor-
firnctionaleflects.
mone to be rliscovercd.The history ofthe hormonesofthe atlre-
It i s not sur pr ising, t hen, t hat f iom 1888 on, t he of
nal corter does not begin until after 1900. 'r 'or k
Moritz Schif] and Bro$ n-S6quardattracted man)-emulators anri
From this brit'l sutnmaryofearly expcrinrentaluork in endo-
sti mul at ed r r scar ch in c'ndocr inologr ,usuallv in conjunct ion
c r inolo{ } , i t i s c l e a rth a t th e c o n c e p to I i ntcrnalsecreti on,w hi ch
rvith a desire to correct unsubstantiatedp.r(hologicaletiologies.
Bern.rrdformulatedin 1855,djd not nt first plav thc heuristicrole
It rvasthe studv oI diabetes,for example, rvhich Bernarcl'swork
that one might be tempted to ascribeto it. This nas becausethe
had al readvclar if icd, t hat led joseph von M cr ing and Eugene
concept. which *as first applied to the llvcogenic function of
Minkowski to discover the role of thc pancreasin the metabo-
the liver, initially plaveda discriminatory role in anatomyrather

t2l
12C)
lis m of glu c i d s (1 8 8 9 ),a n d s u b s e q u e n t l yto the i denti fi cati ontrv
r:nt p;t hw'ays,r eller cs, localizat ion and cent r alizat ir ) n- \ r er e
F r eder ic kC ra n t B a n ti n ga n d C h a rl e sH erbert B cst 11922)ofthc
b.rsedin part on analogiesu'itir opcr.rtionsor objectl that rvcrt:
substancethat Sharpey-Schifer had named insulin in 1916.lr rvas
finriliar bv dint ofthc constructionand/or usc ofmachines, prog-
the studv oI acromegalvby l'ierre Marie ( 1886) that led, evcntu-
ress in this branch of phvsiologv, r'hosc discoveries\,verealso
allv, to cxperiments in hypophvsectomybv Gcorgcs Marincscu
incorporated by psvchology,earned it widespreaclrecognition.
( 1892) anrlC i u l i o Va s s a l a
e n d Erc o l e Sacchi(1892),and l arer ro
A l thoug h t cr m s such as"hor m one" and "conr plcx" har , eent er ed
u orl that dis<rinrinatcdbcr$ ccn the llnctions ol the anterioranci
contmon parlance,they surelv rentain morc csoteric than a rrrrd
pos t er iorl o b c s o fth c p i tu i ta ry (5 i r IIe n ry D al c i n 1909, Il arvcv
l i ke " ref lex, " r vhoseuse in conncct icr nr vit h spor t shas m adc it
Cushing in 1910,and Herbert McLean EvansanclCrarvlbrclWil-
enti rcl y r out ine.
liamson Lolg in l92l). Bror"n-Sequard's
experimentsalsospurred
lf the motor elfectsofthc dccapitationofbatrachiansand rep-
rvork on sex hormones,despite the ironic slepticism of many in
ti l es had led eight eont h- ccnt ur yr ese. r r chertso suspcctt hc r ole
t hc f ic ld. T h c ro l c o f th e p a ra th v ro i d s ,u' hosc,' rnatomi caldj s-
ol the spirralconl in the nruscularlinctiorr, and il the erperinrents
tinctivcn(sr \\'cnt unnoticed until lvar Victor San<lstrrjm's
$ork of
of R obcr t Wh, r t r ( 1768) and Julien JcanC6sarLeg. r llois( 1812)
1880,uas elucidatedin I89? through the researchof Emile Glev.
alreadv had a positive character,it rvasncverthelessimpossible
Thus, the phvsiologicalconcept ofa chemical regulator,in its
to explain u,hat Thomas Willis in 1570 called "rcflt'cted move-
current scnse,u.asclaboratcdin the late ninctecnth century, but
ments" in terms of thc rcflcx arc untii the Bell-Magcnrliclarvhacl
an ex pr es s i v e
te rm fb r r' t h a d v e t to b e c o i ned. In 1905,W i l l i anr
trccn l dnnulat edand r er ilicd ( l8ll- 22) . l\ 'lar shall
Hall'sdiscover v
B ay lis sanc l Ern e s t Sta rl i n g , a fte r c o n s u l ti ng a phi l ol ogi st col -
of the "<liastaltic"(reflex) function ol thc spinalcorcl.simultanc-
feague,proposeclthc tcrm "hormonc." [Etudes.pp.262-651
ouslr glimpsed bv JohannesMiiller, rlas a ncccssaryconsequence
of differcntiating the variousfunctions of thc spinal nerve. That
Neurophysiology
dilh'rcntiation also lecl inevitablv to idcntillcation ol lirnction-
[ . + 3] O l a)l th e s v s te m s* h o s r' l i rn c ti o n s arc dctermi ned bv rhe al l r spe cialized
bundlesof conduct or suit hin t he spinalcor d - bv
need t o pre s e rv eth e i n re { ri tv c rf c e l l u l ar Ii fl , thc onc rvhorc
K arl Friedr ichBur d. r chin 1826,JacobAugust usLockhar tClar ke
mechanicalnature al\iavs arousedthe lervesrobjcctions rvasrhc
in 1850,Brorvn-Sirquard in 1850an(l FriedrichGoll in I860. Uasecl
neur om us c u l a r.Me c h a n i s ti c th c o ri e s fl rst.l rose not from thc
initiallv on experimentsinvolving scction and excitation of ncrve
studv of plant growth or from viscousanclvisceral palpation of
fibels, this work precededFrieclrich\4ralter'sdiscovcrvofspinal
t he m ollus k b u t l ro m o b s e rrrti o n o f th e di sti ncti ve,sequenri rl
degenc r , t t ionin l8 5l) .
locomotion ol r<rtcbr.ltcs.rvhos<ccntr.rl ncnous svstcntscontrol ()ncc t he du. r l signif icanceof conduct ion along t he ner r ous
and coorrlinatc a scriesof srtgmentarymovcmcnts that onc can
fl ber ha <lbe, . : nder t 'r m incd,t he cxcit abilit v anclconduct ivit v of
s im ulat eby m e c h a n i c a me
l a n s .' A n a m o eba,"A l ex von U exki i l l
ncrvoLrstissue vverestucliedsystcmatically,along lvith the con-
m aint ainec l",i s Ie s so fa ma c h i n eth a n a h orse."B ecausesomc of
tra(tilc propertiesof muscle. l his r"ork uas the positivt'or cmpir-
t he ear lies tc o n c e p tso f n e rro u s p h y s i o l ogv- afl ercnt and cl l i r-
i cal port ion of a lar gc volum e ol r eser r ch.som e of ir nt agicalin

r2l
character,spurred by the discovcry of "animal elcctricity." The facultv or appctite - and, furthermore, thnt thosc organsare to
lield of electrophvsiologybeganwith Luigi Galvani'sobsen'ations be found in the convolutions of the brain's hemispheres,rvhich
and experimcnts,his polemics w.ith AlessandroVolta (1794), and were reflected in the con[iguration oIthe cranial she]1.
A lex ande rv o n I l u mb o l d t' s c o rro b o ra tionofGal vani ' sresul ts.l n This is not the place to deal with the allegationthat Call was
1827,Leo p o l d o N o b i l i b u i l t a n a s ta ti cgal vanometcrsensi ti ve a charlatan.It is more imPort.rnt to undcrstands'hv he enioyed
enoughto detect very rveakcurrents.Carlo Matcucci established, as nruch inlluence as he did, and f br so ) ong. lle pr ovided t he
in 18.11,
a correlationbetween muscularcontraction and the pro- phl si ol o gist sand clinicians of t he f ir st t wo t hir ds of t he nine-
duction of electricity. Du Bois-Reymondvirtually inventcd the teenth century u,ith a furrdamentalidea that one of his critics,
cntire apparatusand techniquc of electrophysiologyin order to Louis Franqoist-elut, callcd "the polysectionof the encephalon."
subject Mateucci'srvork to stringentcriticism. He demonstrated Recall, moreover,that Gall claimed to have <onre upon his the-
the cxistence of u'h.rt he called "negative variation," an action orv through obser vat ionof t he skullsof ccr t ain of his colleagues
por ent ialth a t g e n e ra te da c u rre n t i n c o nj uncti on w i th the sti m- rr ith a particularlykeen memory for u'ords;hc located the organ
ulat ion of a n e n e : h e a l s o s tu d i e d p h rsi ol ogi caltetanus,U si ng of thnt memory in the lower Posterior portion of the antcrior
s im ilar t ec h n i q u e s ,v o n Il c l mh o l tz i n 1 850 measuredthe speed lobe. Now, it happensthar the first idcntjfication of an anatomi-
ol propagationalong the nerve. Although this cxperiment failed cal lesion responsiblefor.r clinical diagnosisof aphasia,made by
to shed the expectedlight on the naturc ofthe mcssagetransmit- JeanB.rptisteBouillaud in 1825,confirmed Call's obsen'ation.In
t ed, it did a t l e a s t re fu re a l l th e o ri e sh ol di ng that thi s m< ssaqe 1827,B ouillaudpublishedt he f ir st exPer im r r r r alf indingson t he
involved the transportof somc substance. ab)ationof regionsof the cerebralcortcx in nrammalsand birds
After Whvtt and GeorgeProchaskaidentified the spinalcord's Fronr then on, exper int ent son anim alsconr l>inedr vit h clinical
s ens or im o to r c o o rd i n a ti o n fu n c ti o n b ut be[ore Marshal l H al l and pathologicalobservationof humans to producc a functional
explained its mechanism, t-egalloisand Pierre Flourens located mappingofthe cerebralcortex. In 1861,Paul Erocaidentified the
t he c ent e r o fre fl e x mo v e m e n t i n th e medul l a obl ongata. A t seato[aticulate languagein the third fiontal convolution, which
ar ound t he s a meti m e , th t' a n c i e n t c o n cept ofa seatofthe soul l ed hi nr t o nr aket his decl. r r at ionof f ait h: "t lr elievein t he pr in-
r>rorganofcomnron sense,whose possiblelocation had been thc ciple of localizationslI cannot believe that the complexitv ol the
subject of much speculationin thc seventeenthand eighteenrh cercbralhemisphcresis a mere capriceofnature."
centuries,collapsed,Albrecht von Haller had providcd a negative In 1870,G ust avThcodor e Fr it sch and Julius Ed*ar d llit zig
answer to the question, "Do different functions stem from dif] providedexperimentalproofof cerebrallocalizationbl emploving
lerent souls (An diversaediversarumoninde functionum prcrin- a rcvolutionarynerv technique,electrical stimtrlationol the cor-
ciac)?"r{r
In 1808,horvtver,the father ofphrenologv, FranzJoseph tcx. P reviously,due t cr t he t ailur e of at t em pt s t o sr im ulat ( t he
Ga)1,argued that "the brain is composed of as many distinctive brai n dir ect ly dur ing t r cpanat ion,dir cct t t im ulat ion had becn
systemsas it performsdistinct functions," and that it is therelore declarcd impossible. From experiments with dogs, Fritsch and
not an organ but a composite of organs,each correspondingto a tlitzig concludeclthat the anterior and posterior regions of the

| 24 115
br.rinvvercnot e(lui!?lent;the anterior region w.asassociarcd
rvith i nrerpret ingsim ilar obser vat ionsin t cr m s oI Spencer ianevolu-
t he m ot o r fu n c ti o n , th e p o s te ri o r rv i th the sensorvfuncti on. tionism, introduced the conccpt of a conservativcintegratirrnof
B ec aus eH i tz i g c o u l d n o t a p p l y e l e c tri cal sti mul i to a human
neurological structurcs and lunctions, accorclingto rvhich less
brrin, in 1874 hc insteadmapped the motor region in an apt'; in
complex structurcsand functions are dominated and controlled
1876.Dav i d F c rri c rc o n l i rmc d Il i tz i g ' s r esul ts.N ami ng Fl ourcns
at a higher Jevelbv more complex and highll dil'ferentiatedones,
bLrtairrringhis criticism nr Friedrich Goltz, Ferricr ryrotc, "Tlre
rvhich appearlater in rht phvlogeneticcrrd<r. Pathologicalstates
soul is not, as Flourensand many rvho came after him belietecl,
arc not decom posit ionscr rdim inut ions ol phvsiological: it at es;
sonrekind ol synthetic firnction of the entire brain, rvhosemani-
rather, thev involve a dissolut ionor loss of cont r ol, t he liber a-
fcst,rtionscan be suppressed
in totobut not in part; on the contrary, ti on of a dom inat ed lunct ion, t hc r et ur n t o a m or c r cf lexive,
it is c c r t a i n th a t s o m e , a n d p ro b a b l eth at al l , psvchi cfundi ons
.rlthorr[h in itsell positivc,rtatc.
derire lrom rvcll-dcflnedcentersin the cen ical cortex," Similarl\,
A n i Dr por t antevent in t hc hist or v of t he localizat ionconcept
F c r r ier ' sd i s c o v e rvo f th e ro l < ro f th c c rc ci pi tall obe i n vi si on l cd
\!?s the I nt er nat ionalCongr essof l\ 1t 't licinehe[ d in Lon<lonin
Hcrmann N'lunkin l8?8 to givc the first preciselocalizationoI a
l i J81.at which Sher r ingt on,t hen aged t r vent y- lbur ,hear d r hc
sen!'oryccntcr, A grou ing number of expcriments, confir-meclby
llomeric debatcbctueen Ferrierand FrierL'ichGoltz. I.ater,when
clinical obscrvations,provided Carl Wernickc rvith the marerial
CharlesScott Sherringtonvisitcd Goltz in Strasbourgin l8[i.1-1.l5,
t o ent it le h i s 1 8 9 7trc a ti s eo n th e a n a toml and physi ol ogvol the
he lcarnt'd the techniquc lor taking progrcssivesections ol thc
f>rainthc ,.1rlos desGehirns.But it rvasnol until the earlv ruenti-
spi nal cor d, His u'or k on t he r igidit v causedLr r decer cbr at ion
et h c ent uryth a t A l ti c d C a mp b e l l(1 9 0 5 ) an<Kl orbi ni anB rodmann
(ll{97) and rcscarchon subiectsranging liom reciprocal innerva-
( 1908) ,dr a rv i n go n a (l v n n c c isn h i s to l o gvl i om C ami l l o C ol gi to
tioD to the concept ol .rn intcgrativeaction oI rhe ncrvouss|stem
SantiagoRamon v Cajal, were ablc to lav the founclationsfbr a
(1906) enabled him to corroborate and correct .lackson'sfln<la-
cvt()Jrchitectonicsof rhe cortcx.
mcntal ideasr vit hout vent ur ingout sidet he r ealm of phvsiologv.
ln Lc7onssurlcslocolisorlons (1876),Jean-,\lartinCharcorrvrote, B ctl c cn M ar shallHall and Sher r ingt on,t he st udy of t he la\ \ s
"The brain is not a honrogcreous,unitarv organ but nn associa-
of rcllex nradc litt)e prog:'essapart fiom Eduald Pl1iiq,:r'sear-
t ion. " lhe tc rm " l o c .rl i z a ti o n "rv a sta k cn l i teral l v at thc ti l l l e: i t
l i er, rathercr ude st . r t elr cntin 1853of r he r ulcs of ir r adi. r t ion,a
uirs assumedthat thc trnfolded surfac.' ,rI thc cortex could be
concept that impliod thc existenceof an clcmentarv reflcx .rrc.
div ided in to d i s ti n c t z o n e s ,a n d th a t l c s i onsor abl ati onscoul d
Shcrringtonshou.ed,to the contrarv,that even in the cascof thc
cxplain sensorimotordisturbancesdescribedasdcflcits (a-phrsia,
si mpl estr cf lcx, t hc spinalcor d int egr at cst he lim b's ent ir c bun-
aaraphia,a-praxiaand so orr). Yct Jules(iabrit'l l-ranq:ois Baillalqer tlli: ol-nencs. Brain lirnctionsmerelv expandupon this capacitvof
had point e < o i u r i n I3 6 5 rh a t a p h a s i ai s not a l ossof rhe memon the spi nalcor d t o int cgr at ev. r r i( , us
pnr . t sof t hc or ganism .Follou-
, , 1r r , r r r lr .b ( ( J U :\c\o l l te .rp h .r.i c rt.t.ri
r rrrl rei r voc.rl ,ul .rrrhut l ,r.,e ing lackson, Shcrringronthus cstablishedthat thc animal organ-
the ability to usc *,ords properly - and in anvthing but an .rutn- i sm, seenin t er m s of it s sensor im ot orf unct ions,is not a nt osaic
m at jc m an n e r.Ov e r th e n e x t tu .o d c c a dcs,Fl ughl i ngsJackson, but a structure. 1'he great phvsiologist'smost original contrihu-

t2 6
t) 7
tion, however,was to explain, rvith the concept of thc cortex, CsrPren Stx
the differencebet$een nenr'ous
mechanismsfor integraringimme-
diate and defbrrcd movements. Epistemology of Medicine
At around the same time, Ivan Pavlovstudied anorher corti-
c al inte g ra ti n gl u n c ti o n , w h i c h h e c al l ed" condi ti oni ng" (1897). The lirrrits oI llcaling
Pavlovshorvedhow the cortical functions could be analyzedby
modifying techniquesborrowed from reflexology.When an ani-
mal (in this case,a dog) wascondirionedthrough the simultaneous
application of different stimuli, ablation ol more or lessexten-
sive regionsof the cortex allowed one to m!asurethe degreeto
u.hich the sensorimotorreflex dependedon the integrity of tht:
cortical intermediary,This technique, which Pavlov re[ined as accomPanies
[44] Awarenessof the limits of medicine's Po\!er
results accumulatcd, rvastaught to large numbers of the great any conception of the living body which attributes to it a sPon-
Rus s i a np h y s i o l o g i s t'ds i s c i p l e s [...]
. tanrous caPacit!, in nhattvcr fbrm' to preserveits siructurc and
I u'ill cnd with a I'ew words about what John Newport Langley, regulateits functions. lf the organism hasits oun powersofde-
in 1898, calledthe "autonomic" nervoussystem,whosefunctions, fense,thcn to trust in thosePowers,at leasttemporarilv,is a hvpo-
becausethev involve u,hat Bichat called "vegetative"asopposed thetical imperative,at once Prudentand shrcwd. A dvnamic bodv
t o " an i m a l " l i [e , w e re l e s ss u s c c p ti bl eol ' mechani cali nterpre- deservesan expectant medicine. Medical genius may be a form
tations than those of the central nervous svstem. It was _facob ol patience.Ofcourse, the Patientmust agreeto suffer.Th6oPhile
Winslow rl ho in 1732 coined the erpression"great svmpathetic" sur I'histoire
de Bordeu, well anare of this. u-rote in his Acchercfies
nervoussvstemto refer to rhe ganglionicchain. ln 1851,Bernard de nitlecine: "The method of expectation has somcthing cold or
discovcredthe effect of the symparheticsystemon scnsitivityand austereabout it, which is difficult fbr the keen sensibilitiesof
body temperature;in 1852-54, Bro*'n-sdquardcontributed new patients and onlookers to bcar. Thus, Ierv lew phvsicianshave
techniques fbr exploring the firnctions of the sympathetic ner, peopie ar c nat ur a) lv
practi cedit , p. r r t icular l\ in nat ions r uhr . r se
vous systembv sectioningnen'esand applying electrical stimuli. ardent, impatient, and f'earftr]."
Langleyu'asa pioneer in the use ofchemical techniqucs,includ- Not all patients respondto treatmenti some recoverwithotlt
inq thc block.rgeof synapsesbv nicotine ( 1889) and the sympa- i t. l l i pp ocr at es,sho r ecor dt d t heseobser vat ionsin his t r eat ise
thicomimetic propertv of adrenaline( t 901). lEtudes,pp. 266-7 ll On theArt, rnasalso, according to legr:nd,responsiblefor - or,
i f you r vill, cr edit ed r vit h - int r oducing t he concePtot nJt ur e
i nt,r met lical t hinking: "Nat ur es ar e t he healer sof discases'''he
rvrotc in Book Six of Eprdernics. Here, "healer" relt'rsto an intrin-
si c activit y of t he or ganismt hat com Pcnsat cslbr def iciencies,

t 29
r es t or esa dis ru p te d e q u i l i b ri u m o r q u i c k l r correctsa detccred naturL"spresumedpo\{er to corrcct disordcrson its or,'n. Nature
dc v iar ion. - f h i s a c ti v i rv , h o rv e v e r,i s n o t thc product of i nn.rte rhe physi ci a n r cspect cd b1 a t hcr apet r t icsof r lar chlulness
'r 'as
knou.ledge:"Naturc fincls its orvn w-aysand means,but not bv and support. Bv contrast,modern medicinc \\'rsactivist in its ori-
intelligence:blinking is one such,thc variousoflices ofthe tongue cntati on. B acon expr essedt he hope t hat it u'ould lcar n lr om
are aDother,and so arc other actionsof this sort. Naturc doesI,hat chemistrv.and Descartesthat it u'ould learn fiom mechanics.Yet
is appropriaterr ithout instruction and r,,,ithoutknorvledgc.', bcnvcen the Greeksand the Moderns,for all that thcy {'erc sePa-
T hc analo q l ' b e trn e c nn a tu rc a s h e a l e r and the nrcdi cal art rarcd br,thc Copernicanrevolution and its critical consequfDces,
t hr o\ r ' st h( li u h t o fn a tu re o n th e a rt, b u t nor vi ce versa.The the di ffercncer em ainedphilosophical,$'it hout per cept ibleim -
medical art nrust observe,must listen to naturc; to obscrveand pict on rhc health of mankind. The sharedproiect ol llacon and
t o lis t c n in th i s c o n re x t i s to o b e v . Ga l e n, w ho attri buted to [)escartcs,to prcservehca]th and to avoitl or at least dclav the
Hippocratesconceptsthat one can only call Hippocratic, adopted decline of old age- in short, to prolong lifi - resultedin r)o not-
t hc m in his o* n l i g h t a n d ta u g h t th a t n a tu r ei s the pri nran,con- abl e achi evr nr t 'nt s.Alt hough Nicolas dc l\ lalelr r ancher nd lat cr
servatoro1'healthbecauseit is the principal sh.rperof the org.rn- E dmc N l ari or t c spoke ol "exper im ent al m eclicine, "t he phr a: c
ism. I lorvever,no Hippocratic text goesso far as to portray nature remai neda s ignif ier in sear chof a signiliecl.Eight eent h- ccnt ur l
asinfallible or omnipotent. The meclicalart originatcd,devcloped me<licineremaineda symptomatologyand nosolog,v, that is, a sys-
and rvasperfected as a gaugc of the porverof naturc. Depcnding tr:m of cl ass if icat ioner plicit ly bascdon t hat of t hc nat ur alist s.
on rvhether nalure as healer is stronger or $,eakcr.the phvsician eti ologv squander edit s ener giesin t he cr cct ion ol sls-
l \' l crJi cal
must either allorv nature to tnke its course, intcrvene to support tcms, revi vingt he ancient doct r inesof solidism and hunlr r r ism
it or help it ou t. o r re fl s e to i n te rv e n co n thc groundsthat there by introducing nerv physicalconceptssuch asmagnetismin(l gal-
are diseases for rvhich nature is no match. Whcre nature givcsin, vanism or bv raising mctaphysicalobjections to thc Procedures
m edic inem us t g i v c u p .' l ' h u s , H i p p o c ra te sv vrote,,,Toaskart fbr 'l'herapcu-
of thosc s ho l,ould assimilatemedicine to mechanics.
\ \ hat ar t c ann o t p ro v i c l ca n d to a s k n a tu rc f br uhat nature ti cs, gui ri ed bv pur e em pir icism , alt er nr t ed bct r veenskept ic. r l
can_
not provide is to tulfer from an ignorance th.rt is more cclccticism anclobstinatedogmatisrn.Tragicallv,medicint could
akin to
madnessthan ro lack ofeducation," not accomp lishit s goals.lt r em aincdan cm pt v discour seabout
[,.ld6e de rnttre," ,Mddecine,
PP.6- 71 practicesoficn not verv diflerent from magic.
[a5] h simplifl (probably to excess)thedillerencc bet.rvcen Freud said of ancient medicine that psychic thcrapy was the
anc ient ( pr im a ri l v Grc e k ) m e d i c i n c a n d th e mocl ernme< l i ci ne onl v trci tnre nt it hat l t o oller , an( l m uch t he sam et hing could
irrauguratcdbv AncircasVcsaiiusancl Willianr Harvcy lr.rvebeen saidabout nreriicinc in the eighteenthanclnrost ol th<
and cele-
br at r r l hr I ( , , { .r Brc ,rn 1 6 6 1R (,n eD c rc a rrr\ , r,," ni neteenthc cnt ur ics. Bv t his I m ean t hat t hc pr escncelnt l per -
rh" r
the lbrmcr.rvas contemplati.r,e , the latter -i ghr..,,
operation;I. A;cient sonalitvof thc phvsicianrrere the primarv remcdiesin manv afllic-
mcclicinervasfbundcdupon a strpposcdisomorphism ti ons ol rvhich anxiet y was a m ajor com ponelnt ,Udeololltond
betrveenthe
c os m ic or dc r a n d th c e q u i l i b ri u m o f th e o rgani sm. R ati onol i tr,
p p. 52- 5 l]
refl ectcd i n

r lo rl l
The Ner v Sit uat ion of M edicine

A Shilt
[46] The gradualclimination from medical understan<iing o{ anv
refercnceto thc patient'sliving conditions u.as.in part, an ellect
of thc c olonizat ionof m edicine by basicand applied scicncein
the earlv nineteenth ccntury; but it *as also a consequenceof
i ndrrstrialsociet y'sint er est ( in cver y senseof t he uor d) in t he
hcal th o f it s wor king populat ions( or , as som e r vould pur it , in
the human component of thc productive fbrces). The political
authorit ies,at t he bchest ol, . r nd *it h advice f ionr , hygienist s,
took stepst o m onit or and im pr ove living condit ions. M edicine
and politics joined forces in a neu approachto illness,cxempli-
lied br changesin hospitalstmcturesand practices.In eightcenth-
ccnturv Fr ance,par t icular lvat t he t im c of t he Revolut ion,st eps
\{'eretaken to replace hospices,which had provided shelter and
care to sick patients, many of lvhom had nowhcre else to turn,
uith hospitalsdesignedto lacilitatc patienr suneillance and clas-
sificati<-rn.
By design, thc ncrv hospitals operated as, to borro$
lacques Ren6 Tenon'sphrasc,"healing machines."Treating dis-
easesi n hospit als,in a r egiDt eDt edsocial envir onnt cnt ,helped
strip them oftheir individuality.Meanuhile, thc conditionsundcr
rvhich diseases
developedrveresubjectedto incre.rsinglvabstract

r ll
anal\sisand, .rsa result, thc gap u idened betrvccn thc rcalitv of cflcctive therapics,rvhoseustrcould be guidcd bv critical arvare-
pat ic nt s 'l i v c sa n d th c c l i n i c a l re p re s e ntati on
of that rcal i ty.[...] ncssof t heir lim it at ions.
Thc statisticalstudy ol the frequencv,social contcxt and spread In Fr ance,elabor at ion of t hc ncu' m edical m odel t 'as pur -
of dis ea s ec o i n c i d e de x a c tl v\,v i thth e a natomi cal -cl i ni cal
revol u- stredfirst by frangois-loscphVictor Broussais,then bv liranqois
tion in the hospitalsofAustria, Englancland l]rancc in the earlv Nlagendie,and finallv by Claudc Bcrnard.Despite the traditional
nineteenth century. f"Maladies," Univers,p. 1235a] claims of medical historians,however,it can bc shorvn that the
' fh re e p h e n o m c n a a l tc re d t he si tuati on ol E uropcan phvsiologicalmodel remainedan ideologv.If the goal of thc pro-
[ 47]
medicine.'l'he first rvasthe institutional anclcultural changethat gram \\'asevcntualll achicvcd,it rvasreachcdb-vroutesquitc dil:
i\ , lic hc l F o u c a u l t h a s b a p ti z e d " th c b i rth of the cl i ni c," l r.hi cl r fercnt lrom those envisioncrlbv the progr.am'sauthors. [,ldeologr
combined hospital relbrms in Vicnna and Parisr'r'ithincrcasingly pp. 5a-551
ond Rationalit.v,
'widcsprca<l
useofsuch exploratorvpracticcsaspercussion(Joseph
LeopolclAuenbriiggcr,.fcan-Nicholas Corvisart)and mediateaus- The Physiological Point o[ View
c ult at io n (R e n 6 .l ' h !o p h i l c l l v a c i n th e Ladnnec),and rvi th svs-
tcmatic effbrts to relate obscrvcd symptoms to anatomical and I :ra nqoi*l osephVictor Broussois
pathologicaldata.Sccond,a rationalattitudc of therapeuticskep- [.]8] By demolishingthe period'smost majesticand imposingsvs-
ticism was fbsteredand developedin both Austria and France,as tem, th at ol'Philippc [ 'inel, Br oussaisclear cd t hc r vay f br t hc
Edu'in Heinz Ackerknecht has shorvn.rrThird, physiologygrad- advcnt of a ncw spir it in m t r licine. "lt u'as Br oussais's
opinion

uallv liberated itsclf from its subservienccto classicalanatomy that pa t hologv was not hing but physiologv,since hc called it
and becamr:an independent medical discipline, rvhich at first 'phvsiologicalmedicinc.' Therein lav thc rvhole progrcssin his
fircuscrlon diseaseat the tissuelevel, asyet unawarethat cventu- "svstemol irri-
uav ol looking at things."ll To bc sure, Broussais's
ally it uould come to fbcus evcn more sharplvon the ccll. And tation" hincleredhis understandingunnecessarilv, and he discrtri-

physiologistslooked to physicsand chemistrvfor examplesasrvell itt'd hinrselfbv overrelianceon leechcsand bleeding.Yct it should
astools. not bc fbrgotten that thc publication ofhis Examendc la docttine
Ilcncc, a nervmoclelof mcdicine uas elaborated.Nerv diseases nidicale giniralementadoptie rvas,in the rvordsol l-ouis Pcisst',
u.ereidentified and distinguished,most notably in pulmonarvand "a medicalfequivalentofl 1789."rrln order to refute Pincl's"phil-
cardiac pathologv (pulmonarv edcma, bronchial dilation, cndo- osophicalnosographv"and cloctrincof "essentialfcvers,"Broussais
carditis).Old medications,w,hosenumbers had proliferatedn,ith borrou,edlrom Bichat'sgcncralanatomvthc notion that eacht,vpe

no discernible cflict, wcre discounted. And rival medical theo- of tissue,orving to its specific tcxture, exhibits certain charac-

ries cast discreclit on onc another. Thc nelr- model rvasone of tcri sti c alt er at ions.I I c idcnt if ied lever u. it h inf lanm at ion, dis-
knou.ltrJgewithout systcm,basedon the collection of facts and, ti ngui shed<lif li: r r : ntor iginal sit esand pat hs of pr opagat ionf or

i1 possible,the elaborationoflavvsconllnlred bv cxpcrimcnt. This cach type of tissue,anclthus erplaincd thc svmptomatic(liversitv

knowlcdge, it rvashoped, rvould be capableofconversion into ol di fl c r m t t ever s.I le cxplainedinf lam m at ionas t he r csult ol an

ri5
I 14
excessiveirritation. rr hich interlered rvith the ntovcmentofa tis-
svstems,Physiologicalmedicinc, even if it mimickcd the tbrm of
sue and could in the long run disturb its organization.Ile stood
a svstem,markcd a decisiveshift fiom the era ol systemsto the
on its head the basicprinciple of pathologicalanatomvbv teach-
ige ofrescarch. from the ageof revolution to the epoch ofprog-
ing that thc dysfi-rncrion
precedesthe lesion. Ilc bascdmedicine
ress,bccauseBr oussais'sidca looked t o t echniquesn it hir r each
on phv s i o l c rgra
v th e r th a n a n a to m t.A l l crlthi s i s summcd up i n a
ol conte m por ar ypossibilit ies.I f t udes,pp. 136- 38]
rvcll-knonn passageoIthe preface to thc Eramenof l8l5r .,The
c har ac t c ri s ti ctra i ts o fd i s e a s e smu s t b e sought i n phvsi ol ogy....
l:rongoistrlagendie
Enlightcn me with a scientific analyslsof the often confusedcries
of the suff-eringorgans.... Tcachme about their reciprocalin0u, l+t)l What Broussaispromiscd, someonr clse had alreadvbegun
to dcl i v er .Thir m an, t oo, had declar edt h. r t "m cclicine is not h-
ences."Discussingthe new ageof medicine in his Essaidephiloso-
i ng but t he physiologvof t he sick m an. "l'r Just onc year af t er
phie mddicale,Jean Baptiste Bouillaud wrote, "ls not the fall of
Broussais's (1808), this man had publishcd
Htstoiredc phlellmosies
the systcm of Nosogroph;e phtlosophiqueone of the culminating
his fromen dc ]'oction de quclquesvigdtaut sur la noille dpiniirc,
ev ent sol o u r m e d i c a l c ra , a n d i s n o t the overthrorvofa svsrcm
|lc lounde<l t\e Journal de phvsiolollieetpirimcntol a vear beforc
that had governed thc medical rvorld a revolution ro,hoscmcm-
Brc.'ussaisfoun<le<fthe ,4nnal.'sde la nidetine phvsiololyiqucand in
ory will not fade?"raln a more lapidaryflashion,]\,lichelFoucault
i t i n 1822 conllr m eclChar lcsBell'sdiscovt r v ( 1811)t hr ough his
put it this u'ay in lhc Birth ol the C,/inic:"Since 1815,the doc-
" E xp6riencessur les f bnct ionsdcs r acinesdcs ner ls r achidiens"
t or ' s ev e h a s b e e n a b l e to c o n fro n t a si ck organi sm." l 5E mi )e
I:ronr thc t it ies of t hese r vor ls alone we gat lr er t h( : diller eD( e
I it t r i' , a m a n { a rn i l i a rw i th th c c o n c e pt of " di sti ngui shi ng"di f' -
bctrr,ecnthe oricntation of Broussais's work and that ol this other
ferent tvpcs ofexplanation (he ref'ersto "Bichat's great distinc,
phvsicianrFrangoisMagendic(1783-1855).WhercaslJroussais ha<]
tion" betrveenoccult and irrcducible gualities), rvasthus able to
r.orkcd f ir st in m ilit ar y and lnt cr in civilian hospit als,M agendic
observein 1865that "s hile theory in medicine once \4ras suspect
\\' asn man ol t he labor at or v. r su'cll as a hospit alphvsician.For
and serred onh as a target, so to speak,fbr the facts that demol-
him, experinrcrrtalphvsiolcr{Iv rvasthc study of rhe ph'-sicsof ital
ished it, today,orving ro its subordinationto phvsiologicallans,
phenomenasuch as absorption.He conducted svstematicexper-
it has become an effective instrument of researchand a faithful
iments rvith animals to test the pharmacodvnamicpropcrties of
rule of conduct."l6No doubt Claudc Bernardu,asright to saythat
ne* l v i solat edclasscsof chem ical com pounr Jssuch as t he alka-
Broussais'sphvsio)oqicalmedicine "rvas in realitv bascdonlv on
l ,ri < i s.A s ear lvas i821, Nlagendie'rFor m r lor ycar r iedt he subt it le
phvsiologicalicleasand not on the essentialprinciple of phvsiol-
"For the Use an<lPreparationof Variousl\{e<.lications Suchas Nux
ogv."l7 Yct Broussais's
idea was rvell suited to become a progrcm
V rmi ca, M or phine, Pr ussicAcid, St r vchnine,Ver at r ine,I odine,
and to justifv a medical techniquequitc different from the one
and the Alkaljs of Q uinquinas"( t hat is, t he quinine of Pellct ier
or iginalll a s s o c i a tc d
$ i th i t. F ra n q o i s , \l agendir()ol
e B roussai s' s
anrlCaventou).
doctrine and transfbnnedit into a method. That is rvhy Brouss.ris's
l n shor t , l\ lagcndie'scxpcr im ent al m c<licinedif f cr ed f iom
svstem brought about a different kind of revolution fi.om other
llroussais'sphysiologicalmcdicine in three lvays:it wascentered

rl 6
tl 7
in t hc l a b o ra to rvra th e r th a n rh e h o s pi tal ;i t expcri mentedon in Bern:C'smcthodological writings that $'erc fbr him inscpa-
lnim alsra th e r th a n o n mc n ; a n d i n s tc adof C al eni c pri nci pl esi t rablc: tl orv and progrt'ss.Experimentalmulicine is progressive,
15cdextractsisolateclbv pharmaceuticalcht'nristrv,for examplc, he argu, , becauseit elaboratestheorics and bccausethosc the-
r epl. r ci n go p i u m rv i th m o rp h i n e a n d qui nqui nr rvi th qui ni nc, ori cs arr - hcm sellespr ogr essive,
t hat is, open. Benr ar d'sr ieu is
O l r hes (th re c d i ffe re n c e sth
, c s e c o n duar i ni ti al l r grccted * ,i th summccup in tu,o obitr'rr/icto: 'An cxPerimentalistneler otrt-
t h. t r ( a te s ti n c o n rp re hc n s i o na n d c ri ti ci snt.Il ,rgendi e' svi vi scc- l i veshi , vor k. I le is alr r ar : sr t t he levcl of pn>gr r ss, "r nd "\ \ 'it h
r ilr r nro L l s e dh o s ti l e p ro te l t .rn d d e monrtrati ons, no doubt l br theoric lrerc are no nror( scientitic rct'olttiont.Sciencegrorrs
rris()nsmore profound than conrpassionfbr animal suff'ering. A<ldt o t his t he t wo ( oncePt sof ( l( t er -
graduall1111st e. r dilr '. "{l
For (o rcason lrom anintalsto man $ils r,t abolish the clistance minism,rd action - kno\1le(lgeol thc one being cssentirlli)r itrc
brr\\ecn the t\vo.'fhe practicc was held ro stcm fiom a materi- ccssof t ,: other - an(l vou havcthe lbur componentsol a medical
alistphilr-rsophv,
and successu.ould rcsultin thc tempration to ideolog that clearh' mirrored the progressivcidcologl'of mid-
errendthe expcrimentsto man. When accused of experimenting ni netec'h- ccnt ur vEur opcanindust r ialsociet v.I n light of m or c
en hum a n s .M a g c n d i ed e n i c d th e c h a rgr.B ut i f admi ni steri ng recent r ncepts, such as Bachclard'sePistcmologicalbreak and
unpro!endnrgsis experimentation(asClaudeBernarrihimself rvas K uhn' s, r uct ur eof sci( nt ilic r evolut ions,Bcr nar cl's
colt cpt ol'
ont ol t h e l l rs t to a d mi tl e ), th e n Ma gcndi erJi rlexperi mcnt on theory r t hout r evolut ion hasdr ar vnunder st anclab]ant e l lcgit i-
hlr nJ ns ,p ,rti c n tsi n h o s p i ta l s ,u h i c h h e.r)nsi (l erc(ja vast l abo- mate cr cistn. ln Bcrnard'sdar'.physicistsstill IoLrnrlin Ne\r'ton
rvhcre pitieDts corrl(l bc qrouped rrrd stricliedcompara-
...r141r' rncl P i t : - Sim onLaplacer casonst o bclievein Pr inciplesol con-
onrl Rdtiona]it.v,
tir.h'. [/rlcolo1ir pp- 58-59 sew ati r Ru<lolPhlt r lius lim m anucll Clausiusha<lvet t o at t r act
the attc'l6n 11f2 1.119.
part ol the scicntilic comntunitv to Carnot's
CluJe Bernord princip , of u'hich philosophers*erc a t'ortioric\'(n lessa\\'arc.
[5t)l A vcaf befbrc his death, Claude Bern.rrd, u'riting the intro- Nlichae:aradav'stxpcriments, Andr6-Maric i\mpi'rc's larrs and
drction lbr a planncd Traiti de I'expiricncetlanslessciencesmiLlicales, l ames[ 1li M axr , vell'scalculat ionshad vet t o r evealclcct r ical
took litcrallv a u'c]l-kno*n quip of Magcndie's. Bcrnarclrepcated currentr a possiblesubstitutelor coal asthe nrotor of thc indus-
hii pred('cessor's sclf-characterization:"lle uas the ragpickerof tri al m; r ine. I n 18?2,t he G er nr anphvsiologistEm ile l) u Bois-
phrsiologr. Ilc rv.rsmerclv the initiator of erpcrinrentation. Todav Rcvmo-r(of rvhom Bernardhad on sevcraloccasion\exprcssecJ
ir i\,rdiscipliDethat hasto be crcated,a mrrhorl."{)ForBernard,a a rathe "ont em l) t ur >r ropinion)
s displavedsulTicicntc, r nlidcnce
5111-snlecl ragpiclcl r,trsno <loubtsupcriorto a dognrati(.svstem- i n Iapl ian det er m inisnrt o pr e( ] ict r vhcn Englant llloulr l bur n
burl,ltrrl h,r did not r:vcnrealize th.rt he s.rsbuilding a systcm, i her last,ieceol ctr.rl({/6cr dic (lrcnzenr/ci Norurcrlrnrtcnr ). Birt
lil,, Brouss.ris.But n'hat are we to nt.rkeitf Bernard'srepeatcd in that me ye.lr,rhc Actr(l6miedes Scicnccsin P.rris.consulted
in\i\tencethat onlv he apprcciatesthc trur requiremcntsof tie {br thc'cond t ir ne . r bout t hc invent ion of an clect r ic. r lr 't or kcr
er pr r ime n tam
l c th o d ? named .:nobcGranune. finallv acknorvleclgecl
that practice hacl
I ns u ffi c i e nat te n ti o n h a sb e e n p a i d, I rhi nk,to tw o conceprs racecla a<lof thcorl and autlrcnticatc(l.1rcvolution in ttchnol-

r l8 I l')
ogy . I n s h o rt, th e c o n c e p to fa th e o rv rvi thout revol uti on,u.hi ch tai n co nt em por ar icswhonr hc held in cont em pt bccauset hcv
Bcrnardtook to be the solid basisof his methodology, \4,aspr:r- rvcre not physiologists.Convinced of the identity oI the normal
hapsno m o re th a n a s i g no fi n te rn a l l i mi tati ons i n hi s ou.n medi - and the pathological, Bernard \!'asnever able to rake a sincere
cal theor"-:e:,perinrentalmedicine, rctive and triumphant, rvhich interest in cellular pathologv or gernl patholog,i.Lldeolo11.v
ond
Bernardproposed as .r definitive model of what medicine in an Rdtionality,pp. 60-63]
industrialsocietyought to be. He contrastedhis model rvith that
ol contemplative,rl,atchlirlmcdiciDe.a model appropriareto agri- The Stotisticol Point of View
cultural societicsin rvhich time wasgovernedby q uasi-biological
rather than industrialnorms. The son ofa vine grorverlvho main- Rend-Thlophi I e H yacinthe Latn nec
taineda deep attachmentto his nativcsoil, Berrrardu,asneverable
[51] ConsidcrLaEnnec.FranqoisMagendiemocked him asa mere
to apprcci.rtefullv that science requiresnor only th.rr the scien- annora t orof signs.The in\ ent ion of t he st et hoscopeand it s use
tist abandonidcasinvalidatedbl facts but also that hc givc up a in auscultation as codified in thc De .l'auscu./tation mtdiote of 1819
personalizerlstlle ofrcscarch,rvhich rvasthe hallmark of his ou,n l ed to t he eclipsc of t he sym pt om by t he sign. A sym pt om is
uork. In sr:ience,it rras thc same as in agriculture, rvhere eco- somerhingprcsentfil ol oflered by the paticnt;a sign,on the othcr
nomic progresshad uprooted manv from tht soil. hancl,is somcthing sought and obtained u,ith the aid of meclical
Paradoxicallv,the internal limitations of Bcrnard'stheorv of instruments.The patient,asthe bearerand often commentatoron
r lis c ar c( rti o l o g r a n ,l p a th o g e n )r rre rer l ut r,, thr i ni ri l l * ,,.." ...., s!mpto r ns,u'as"p) acedin par ent heses.A" signcould som et im es
of his researchas Magendie'ssLrccessor.For he had discovered revealan illnessbe[bre a symptom led to its being suspected.ln
the inf'luenceof thc svmpatheticnervoussystemon animal heat Section 86, I.adnnecgivesthe example of a pectoriloquv as the
( 1852) ;h a d g e n e ra te di,n th e c o u rs eo f researchon gl vcogcnesi s, sign of a svmptomlesspulmonarv phthisis,4aThis rv.rsthe begin-
a cascofdiabetes by a lesion o{ the pneunrogastricneive at the ning of the use of man-m.rdeinstrunrentl to detect alterationi.
level ol the fburth vcntricle (1849-5t ); and had demonstratedthe accidentsand anomalies,a practice that would grarluallyexpand
selectiveaction of curarcon the motor nerves.As a result,Bemard n ith the addition of ne*, testing and measuringequipment and
concejvedan idea rhat hc neverrepudiated.nanrcJ1,, rhat all mor- the claborationof subtle tcst protoco)s. Fronr the ancient steth-
bid clisordcrsarc controlled by the nenous svstem,+2th.rt diseases oscopc to the most modern magnetic rcsonanceimaging equip-
are poisonings,and th,rt inf'ectiotrsvirusersare agentsof fermen- mcnt, f)'om the X-ray to the computcrized tomographic scanner
t at ion t ha t a l ttr th e i n te rn a l e n v i ro n m enri n r,,.hi chcel l s l i ve.al and ul t r asoundinst nr m ent , t he scient ilic side of nt cdical pr ac-
Although rh(.scpropositions$ere lareradapte(lto quite different ticc is most strikingly svmbolizcd by the shift ficrnrthe medical
experimcntal situations,none can be said to havc been directly officc to the testing laboratory.At the same time, the scaleon
r es ponsi b )e
fo r a p o s i ti rc th c ra p c u ti ca ppl i cari on.W hat i s more, rvhich pathologicalphenomen.rare rcpresentedhasl>eenreduced
lJernard'ssrubborn vicrvson the subiect o1'pathogenvprevente(l lrom the crrganto the celi and from rht'ceil to tlrc nrolecuL:-
him from seeing the practical implications of the .w,orkof ccr- Thc task of the physician,lrowever,is to inrcrpret informatirrn

r4l
der iv edf r o n r.r n ru l ti p l i c i ty o fs o u rc L ' s-[
. houghmedi ci nc may set tablr' l.rther of the runrcrical mcthori." It mav berof sonreintcr-
as idet he i n d i v i d u a l i tl o f th e p a ti c n t, i t s go.rl remai nsthe con- (.st to rc call a lit r lc- Lnor \ n judgm cnt conccr ning hint . I lenr v
ques t of < l i s e ,rs cW
. i th o u t d i a g n o s i s ,p rognosi sand trcatnl cnt, I)Lrcrotn vde Blainvill<:said t his in his Hi. st oir cdest t r cnccsde
there is no medicine. Here we finrl an object suitable for stu(ly ol 1815:
I'orylanisation
in tcrms o{ logical and epistcmologicalanalysisof thc construc-
tion and testingof hvpotheses.We also find ourselvesat the dau n Pinelbeganbv applringmathcm.rti{
A nr.rthcmatician. \ to .rnimal
f)occorsu'erejust bt.ginningto become
ol me<licrinr.rthenratics. a phiLrsrphcr,he crrricd on u ith an in rlepthsturirol'
mt-cJr;rnics:
arvarcof an epistemologic.rllimitation alreadl recognizr:dirr cos h< madeprogrcss
n)entrlillness;a nituralistandobservcr, in appll-
m ology an d p h v s i c s :n o s e ri o u sp re d i c ti on i : possi bl ervi thout ing the naturalmerhodto medicinr:randtorvardthe enrlhc l.rpsecl
quantificationofdata. But rvhatkind ofmeasurcmentcould there backinto his carlypreclilcctions
bv cnrbracingthc chimericalicica
be in mcdicint'?One possibilitr $,asto m('a\urcvariationsin the ol ,rpplving
thc calcrrlus to nrcdicinc,or nrcdicalsta-
ol probabilitics
phlsiologicallunctions.This uas thc purposeol instrumentssuch ti sti cs .r s if t lr e nLr t nbtol
r discascs r oLr ldalli'ctt ht inlinit c vr r ia-
asJ ean[ ' oi s e u i l l e ' sh c mo < l y n a mo me te( r1 828) and K arl [-u< l rr.i g' s ri()nsoI tcmper.rlnc rrr, rlict, Iocaleandsoon. rvhichinllrrtnccthcir
kvmograph. Anothcr possi[rility \1asto tabulate thc occurrence andm akcr hemsodiver se
i n< .i d cnce t o inr lividual.
lr om inr lividual
ofcontagiousdiseases and chart thcir propagation;in the absence
ofconflrmed etiologies,thescdatacould be correlatedrvith orher This jutlgment is \r.orthrcmL'mberingli)r the light it shcrlson the
nat ur al an rl s o c i a l p h e n o m e n a .l t rv a si n thi s seconcll brm th.rt srrrrnrvre lat ionsbenvccn Blainvilleand August eCr lm t e and on
quant if ic a ti ()nfi rs t e s ta b l i s h e da fb o th o l d i n mcdi ci ne. [" S tatut to the calculusoI prob-
rhc hostility of the prrsitivistphikrsoqrhcrs
6pist6.mof ogique," Histoirc,pp. 19-20) abilitir:s.The Forticth Lessonof the (ours tle Philosophtc
positive
statesthat mc(lical staristicsare "absoluteempiricism in fiivolous
PhilippeP;nel mathematicalguist"'and that therc is no morr: irration;rl proce-

[ 52] T he s tn l i s ti c a lm e th o d o fc v a l u a ti n g cti ol ogi cal di agnoses rl rrrci n ther apvt han t o r elv on "t he illusor l t hcor r ol'ch. r nce. "
and therapr.utic choices bcgan rvith Pierre Louis's ,lfimoirc on ()nc ti n<lst he s. r nr chr r st ilit yin CI audeBcr nar d,dcspit ehis skcp-
pht his is( 18 25 ), rv h i c ha p p e a re dl b u r v e a rsbel brethe ptrbl i cari ,rn ti (i sm ab out Com t e's philosophv.[ "St at ut i'pist 6nr r r logi<1ue, "
in London rrl Francis Bisset I larvkins'sElementsol ,l,ledicalStatistrc:s Hiroirc, pp. 20-2ll
(r'hose outlook uas.rs social .rsit lvasmedical), Those rvho cel-
ebr at er he Ii rs t rrs co fs ta ti s ti c si n m e c l i ci nctcnd to l brget [' i nel , Pi crrc-Cha rles-
Aler o ntlrc Louis
horvever.In 1802,in his .llidacineclinique,hr u5(\l :taristicalmerh- 15 3] I ou is uscdsr at i. t icsin a dillcr <nr spir it lr om Pinel.l lir nr ain
oclsto studr the relation betueen certain dircascsand changes go.rls\\cre to substitutea qu.tntitativcindcx firr the clinician'sper-
in t hr : wc a th c r.l l t: a l s o i n tro d u c e d s ta ti sti calconsi dcrati onsi n sonJlj udgm ent , t o count t hc num bel of r vcll- t lef incdsignspr es-
the revised edition ofhis ftaiti mid;co-philosophique
surI'aliination ent or atrscntin t hc t r am inat ion ol a pat icnt nnd t o coDpar c t he
mcntalc.Fdu in lleinz Ackurknt'cht savsthat Pinel rvas"the veri- rcsul tsof onc pe'r iodu it h t lr oseobt aintr l bv ot hcr phvsiciansin

t1 2
ot her pe ri o d su s i n g th e s n m eme th o ds.E xpcri encei n mcdi ci ne
is ins t r u c ti \e , h c i n s i s te d ,o n l y i f n u mcri cai rccordr are mai n-
t ained. B u t, o th c rs a rg u c d , ta b l e s a n d charts destroy memorv, A M edical Revolut ion
judgm en t a n d j n tu i ti o n . T h a t i s rv h y E mi l e t-i ttrt and C harl es
Robin, both positivists,declaredthcir hostility to "numcrics" in
the articlc thev publishe(lundcr that rubric in the thirteenth edi.
tion of their Dictionnairede mdtlecine,chiuryie et phornacie (1873).
In their vieu', calculationscould never replacc "anatomical and
phvsiologicalkrou'lcdgc, .'r'hichalone rrakesit possibleto weigh
t he v alu e o f rv mp to n rs ," F u rth e rn ro re,the efl ect crI usi ng the
numerical method is that "patients are obseruedin a sensepas-
sively,"As wirh the caseof Laennec,this rvasa method that set Bocteriology
as ide t he d i s ti n c ti v e fe a ru re so f th e pati ent seeki ng i ndi vi dual
[5.1] The discoverjesof Louis Pasteur,Hcnnrnn Robert Koch and
at t c nt ion l o r h i s o r h e r p .rth o l o g i c asl i r uati on. thei r stud ent squickly led t o a pr of bund epist cm ologicalr evolu-
It u'ould be more than a ccntury before "the illusorv theory tion in medicine, so that, strangelvenough,thcseresearchers had
ofchance," as Comte called it, u'ould be fullv incorporated into a grcaterimpact on clinical medicine than did contemporan clin-
di. r gnos i sa n d th e ra p yth ro u g h me th o dsel aboraredto mi ni mi zc i cal pract it ioner s,Past eur a, chem ist wit hout m edic; r Jt r aining,
er r or s ol j u c l g m e n ta n d ri s k s o f tre .rtrnent,i ncl u< l i ngthc com- i naugura t eda new cr a in m c<licine,I le f ieed m edical pr act icc
puterizedprocessingof biomedical and clinical dat.r.One recent liom its traditional anthropocentrism:his approachhad as much
consecluencc of this technologicaland epistcmologicalevolution to do rvith silkrvorms,sheepand chicken aswith human patients.
hasbeen the constructiol of "expert svstems"capableof apply- Pnstcurdiscover!'(lan etiologv unru,latedto organ functions. By
ing various rules ol infert:nceto data gleaned f}om examination revealingthe rolc ofbactcria and viruses in disease,h<rchangc<l
and then rccommending possiblecour5csof treatment. not onl v the lbcus of m edicine but t hc locat ion ol it s pr act ice.
[,,Statut
epistemologique,"H istoirc,pp. 2l-221 Traditionally,patientshad been care<llbr at home or in hospitals,
but raccinationscould now be administeredin dispcnsaries,bar-
racksand schoolhouses. 1he object of m cdicine r vasno longer
so much diseaseas hcalth. This gave ne\r, impetus to a medical
discipline that had cnjoyed prominencc in Englandand France
si D cethe cnd of t he eight eent hccnt ur \ ' - public healr h or hy-
gi ene.Thr ough public hcalt h,r vhich. r cquir edinst it ur ionalst at us
i tr E urope in t hc f inal t hir d ol t hc ninet eent hcent un, epidcm i-
dogy took medicinc into the realm of the socialsciencesand eco-

t 44 t4 5
nom ic s . lt b c c a n rei mp o s s i b l eto l o o k upon mcdi ci ne sol el vas The German School
a s c ienc e o f o rg .rn i ca n o m a l i e so r c h a ngcs.' I' hc efl ects of the
f55] Yet it was an ext ensior ol m icr oscopict echDiqucsf br t he
pat ient ' ss o (i a l i n d e c o n o mi c s i tu a ti o non thc condi ti ons of hi s studv r ) l cell pr epar at ionsand t hc use ol- svnt hct icaniline st ains
or her lifi'nrxv Dunrbcrc(lamong the l.rctors that the phrsici.rn
l manu lict ur ed in G er m anyalier 1870)t hat led, lir r t he f ir st t im e
hac lt o t ak e i n to d c c o u n t. l ' h e p o l i ti c a l p rci Juresstenrmi ngfrom i n rhe hist or y of m edicine, t o a t her apeut ict echni( luet hat ua\
public hcalth concernsgraduallvresultedin changesin nr<<licine's lroth effcctive and unrelaterlto anv medical theorv: chcmother-
objectivesand practices.The accenr \aasshifted from health to . om Wilhelm von
apv, i nvent ed by I 'aul Ehr lich ( 185. 1- 1915)Fr
pr c v ent io nto p ro tc c ti o n .' fh e s e ma rti c shi ft poi nts to a change Waldevcrin Strasbourg,Ehrlich had lcarneclhou'to usc stainsto
in t hc m c d i c a l a c t i ts e l f. W h c rc mc tl i c i ne had once respondc< l cxami n e nor m al and pat hologicalt issue,and at Br eslauhe ha<l
t o an app e a l , i t v ra sn o l v o b e d i rn t to I rl emand. H eal rh i s the attend t 'dlect ur cson pat hologicalanat om vgivenbr JuliusCohn-
cnp<rcitvro resist diseasc;yet thos( uho enjor goc,d hc.rlth arr: hei m (t 83t ) - 188- 1)a, st udent of I {udolph Lur lr vig[ r ar l \ ii[ chor r ',
nev er t he l e scs< rn s < i o uosf th e p o s s i b i l i tyof i l l ncss.P rorecti crni s rvh,r *ould later shorv that inflammation wrs causedbv tht pas-
t he negat i o no l < l i s e a s ea,n i n s i s te n c eo n ncvcr havi ng to thi nk sageof lcucocvt est hr ough t he capillar y r vall. Vir chou's icleas
about it. In rcsp()nseto political pressurcs,medicine has had to rcachedEhrlich through JuliusCohnhcim. Neverthelcss,if cellu-
t ak c on t h e a p p e a ra n c co f a b i o l o g i c a l technol ogv.H crt , fbr a l .rr pat hologvplavedan indir ect par t in t hc invcnt ion of chcm o-
t hir d t im e , th e i n d i v i d u a l p a ti c n t, \\h o seeksthe attcnti ()nofa thcrapv,the rolc of bacteriologvand the discovirl of immunitv
c linic ian,b a sl > t,e ns e t a s i d c ,B rrtp e rh rp si nrJi vi cl ual i rv
i s sti l l rec- \\a\ mr)redirect. Thc prob)en that Ehrlich sratrd anrl solvedcan
ognizcd in tbe notion ol resist.rnce,in the f)ct th.rr sonreorgan- as f ollor vs: lhr ough r vhar cher nicalcom poun( ls
be for- m ulat ecl
ismsare mort'sus(:(.ptiblcthan othets to, sav,the cholerabacillus. u i th sp ecif icaf linit v lbr cer t . r ininf ect iousagcnt sor cells coulr l
Is thc conccpr of resistanceartificirl, serving to cover a gap in one act dircctlv on the causcrather than on thc st nrptoms of <lis-
t hc gc r m t h e o rr' s d e te rm i n i s m?Or i s i t a hi nt of somemore i l l u- casc,i n im it at ion of t he ant it oxinspr escntin var iousser unr s?
minating conccpt yct to conrc, fbr u hich microbiologv haspaved This is not the placc to delr.einto thc circumstamccs surround-
the u,ay/ i ng thc discovcr r ol im m unit r or t o r evivea dispr r t eover pr ior -
if r nc r l i c i rr< h a sa tta i n e d rh e s t.rru sofn sci cn((, i t di < l so i n in', an exerciscuscfi.rlldr rerninding us th.rt the constitution o1
t hc er a ol b .rc re ri o l o g vA . p ra c ti c t i s sci enti l l c i f i r provi < l esa scit nrific knorvledgcd()csnot necessaril,v r.'rluire rh( simultarre-
modcl firr the solution of problems and if that moclel givesrise ous erisienceof all u. ho cl. r im t o bc it s aut hor s. r 5lt is of lit t le
to ellictive tht.rapics.Such u'as the caservith thc dcvelopment i mportancct hat t ht 'Ber lin Schoolpr eccdcdt he Par isSchool by
of s c r um sa n d r' .rc c i n c sA. s c c o n dc ri te ri on ofsci cnti fi ci tv i s the scverrlmonths, or that I lcrnrannRobert Koch'spupil Emil Adolf
abilit v of o n r th c o rv to g i v e ri s e to .rn othercapabl eol expl ai n- von Behring conclu(le(ll>eloreI'asteur'spupil Pierre Paul Emile
ing $. hv it s p rc rJ e c c s s ,rr
p o s s e s s eodn l r li nri tcd val i di tv.[" S t.rtut R oux t hat dipht her iacannor be t r eat cd \ \ 'ir h a \ accine but cin
epis t 6m ol o g i q
u c ," H i s to i rep, p . ))-)1 1 < tnl vbc pr cvcnt cdbv inject ion oI senr m t nkr n lr om a convales
cent pn t ient - pr ovidcd onr . hasa convalesccntllat ient , t hat is, a

r.+6
sun,ivorol the disease.Roux wasablc to preparethe toxin in vifro. them, and that organismssometimesdefendthcmseJves, p.rr.rrlox-
Von Bchring managedto attenu.rteits virulence with trichloride i c.rl l v enough, againstt heir chem ic. r l guar dians.Hence it r vas
ofiodine. Roux rvasmore successfulthan von Behringin increas- necessarvto develop combined treatment regimcns.aT[3ut such
ing t he ac t iv i t) o fth c s e ru m. flexibilitv, tvpical of modern therapies,was made possibleonlv
Nevertheless,Ehrlich, rvhom Koch put in contact n,ith von bv the rationalistsim plif icat ion inher ent in Ehr lich's pr ogr am :
Behring,dreamedthat chemistrv could one day endorvman with si nce cel l s choosebet r vcenst ains,let us ir r ventst ainst hat will
ponr er sf . r r bc v o n c lth o s e o f n .rtu rc .{ { ' H e h i t upon the i dea of i nl al l i bl v choosep. r r t icularcells.
looking for sub!tancesrvith specificaflinities fbr certain parasites B ut $ha t does it m ean t o invent a st ain?I t m eansr o change
and their toxins on the model ofstains with electivc histological the posi ti o nsof t hc at om s in a m olecule, t o alt er it s chcm ical
afTinities.For rvhat is a stain but a vector aimerl at a particular structurc in such a rvav that its color can be read out, as it $,ere,
lbrmation in a healthy or infccte-<lorganism?Whcn a chemical from its fbrmula. Ehrlich's project rvasnot simplv impossil>le;it
cnnrpound dircctc(l at a particular cell penetratesthat ccll, rvbat u,asi nconc eivable
in t hc t im c of M agendie.lt r vasnor unr il 1856
happensis analogousto the $' , in $,hich a kev fits into a lock. that W i l l i am Per kin, Sr . , obt aincd a nr auvedye f r om . r niline as
Ehrlich's first successcame in 190,1,u,hen in collaboration r.r'ith the outcom e of r esear chdir ect ed t or ", ar dan cnt ir ely dif f er ent
Kiyoshi Shigahe discoveredthat Trvpan red destroysthe trypan- goal . It * as not unt il 1865 t hat F. A.K6ku16publishedhis paper
os om e t hat ca u s e ss l c c p i n g s i c L n e s s .L a te r came the di scoverv "The Composition ol Aromatic Comporrnrls."Alter confirming
in 1910of S al v a rs a no, r " 6 0 6 ." a n d N t' o -Sal varsan, uhi ch proved that the cartronatom is tetrar';lcnt, Kekul!determined thc stntc-
les sef f ec r iv ei n c o m b a tti n g s v p h i l i s th a n *r.rs[rel i evedat fi rst. ture ol benrene and {.rve the name "aromatic" to its (leiivatives
But Ehrlich's real successlay not so much in thc products that to distinguish them ficrm compounds involving thc fittv acids,
he ident if ied h i m s e l l a s i n th o s e th a t u ,o u l d ul ti matel y be di s- rvhich, along rvith the alcohols,rverethc primarv fbcusofchcmi-
coveredin pursuit ofhis fundamentalhypothesis:that the affini- cal intt'rest in the daysof Magenclieand Bernard.
t ic s of c hem i c .rls ta i n sc o u l d b c u s e d a s a s vstemnti ctechni que l'he theoreticalcreation of new chemical substanccs
\\'ascon-
for dcvelopingartificial anrigcns.Using the samemethod, in l9]5 limrcd on a vastscalebl the chemical industry.Alizarin. thc prin-
Gerhardt Domag discoveredprontosil red, the first ofa glorious cipal component of nr.r<Jder,rvhich Perkin in Englandand Karl
s er iesof s ulfa mi d e s .Its d e c l i n i n g e ffi c a cy l ed to the greatest lames Peter Graebc and Edme Caro in Cermanl separatelyand
of triumphs to this dav, the chemical synthcsisof penicillin bv si mul taneouslvsvnt hcsizedin 1858, uas r vit hin t en year s't im c
Horvard Walter Florev and Ernst Chain. fhis is not to say rhar being prodrrcedat thc rate ol'9,500 tons annuall,v. Finallyin lt)04,
t her apeut ic ss i n c e th e d i s c o v e ryo I c h e motherapyhas been rc- ani l i ne, thc m ost ( 'labor at eof t he dve com pounds,best ou'cdit s
duc ed t o t he a u to ma ti c a n d i n fl e x i b l c a p pl i cati onof chemi c:rl prestiAiousname on tlre German flrms Baclische
Anilin und Soda
ant it ox ins or a n ti b i o ti c s , a s i f i t rv e re e n ough to admi ni ster a Fahri k1B A5l lr nd Anilin Konzer n.
remcdv and lct it do its rvork. Gradually,phvsicianslearnedthar Thus. trvo of thc preconditionsnecessarylor the devclopment
inf ec t ious ag e n tsd e v e l o p re s i s ta n c eto th e drugs used agai nsr of chemoth er apvas a r epJacem entlbr r he t hcr apiesassoci. r t ed

146 | 4<)
\\'ith thc old medical thcorics \\'ere a new symbolic represcnta- analvzingrcalitv.for him, thc laboraton n'as.rplacefbr renorking
tion firr chemical substanccsand a ne$ technologvfo producing subst.rncesgiven bv nature or art and a placc for ficcing dormant
org.rniccompounds,u,hich supplanteclthe old extractiveproccs- or blockedcausalmcchanisms- in short,a placefbr revealingreal
ses.These \\'erecvcnt! rvith fixcd, ascertainable
dates;their place itv. Hcnce, laboratorv rvork *.as dircctlv aflcctcrl bv what rv.rs
in historv coulci not lravcbeen cleclucecl
in advance.Hencc, chc- going on in thc uorld of tcchnologv.
mothcrapv could not havc cxistcd rvithout a certain level of sci- 'I-hc rcvolution in mcdical thinking bcgan rvith the develop-
cntillc and industrialsociety.Betu'eenEduard Jcnncrand Ehrlich mcnt of t\\'o methods fbr studying the propertiesol crystals:ster-
c am e t he indi s p c n s a b l d
c i s c o v e rvo fa n i l i n e , n,hi ch no onc coul d comctry and polarimetrv.l)issatisflcdrvith EibhardMitscherlich's
hav clbr es eena t th e b e g i n n i n go fth e c c n turv. In hi s studr ofthe cxplanationsofthe elfect of polarizcrllight on tartratesand para-
" r at ionalis m o fc o l o r," Ga s to n Ba c h e l a rdr vrotc, " thc chcmi st tartrates,Pasteurdiscoveredthe clill'erentorientatiolt of the hc-
t hink s of c olo r i n te rm so f th e v e rv b l u c p ri n t that gui deshi s cre- ets of paratartraiecrvstals.Aftcr isolatingthc nno clifferentkinds
at ion. T her ei n l i c s a c o mmu n i c a trl eo, b j e c t i vereal i ty and a mar- ol crvstal s,hc obscr vc<lt hat a solut ion m ade r vit h one kincl o1
k et ables oc ia l rc a ]i tv .A n v o n e n h o ma n u f)cturesani l i ne know s crl stal rota t cd polar ized light t o t he r ight , r vher easa solut ion
thc rcalitv and thr.:rationalitv ofcolor."a8 lldeolollvand Rational- matlc n ith the other rotatcclit to thc lcfi. Whcn the r\\'o cr!s-
it r ' ,pp. 65- 68 1 tal s w ere com bined in solut ion in cqual par t s,t he opt ic. r lef 'lect
ruasnullifierd. When a solution ol'calcium paratartratcwas fcr-
The French School mentcd bv thc eflcct ofa mold, Pasteurnoted that onlv the right-
[ 56] I n c ons i d e ri n gth e p re c u rs o rso fth e i mmuni zati on tcch- polarizinglbrm of thc crystalwasaltcrcd, I Ic thcrefbre inferred a
niqucspcrfcctcd at thc cn(l of drc nineteenthcenturv,I shalllook connectionbetrveenthe properticsof microorganismsand molec-
.rt the u.ork of Pasteurrather than at that oI Koch, partly becausc ular asvmmctrics,Dagognethassholvn horv microbiologv began
it cam<'firstchronologicallyand partly becauseI'asteur'suork u.as u ith this ingeniousreversalof a result in bioclrr:mistrv.A micro-
of morc gcncralimport, fbr "it not onlv modified the relationship scopic org.rnism,a rnold or a ycast,\\'Assho*n to bc capableof
betrvccn biologv.rnd chemistrv but changcrlthc rcpresentation di sti ngui sh ingbet r vccn opt ical isom er s. Past eur ismconver t ed
ol t he uor ld o f l i v i n g th i n g s g e n e ra l l y ,th e rel ati ons betrvr:cn chcmical scparationby bacteriainto bactcriologicalisolation bv
bcings,and the lunctions ascribedto chemical rcactions."4'l clremical isomcrs.50Thus conllrmed in lris br:lief th.rt thcre is..r
Frang.ois Dagognetargues,contrary to a u'idclv hcld vicrv,that structuralcontrastbetweenthc asvmmctricalliving organismand
it \r'asn()t trccauscof tcchnical problcms raisc<lb,r industrialists, the mi neral, and hence just if icd in r eject ing anv explanar ion
artisansand aninralbreeders("malaclies"ol beer, * ine, silklvorms receptivcto the notion ofspontaneousgencration,Pastcurlinked
and s heep)t h a t P a s tc u rto o k s o Io n g to d cvcl op " l ' asteuri sm." gcrm, fermcnt at ion ancldiscasein a unif ied t hcor et ical f r am e-
Rathcr, Pasteurcncountcrcd technical problems trecause,Iiom rvork. Since my purpose here is simplv to reflect on mattcrs of
his flrst encounter vvith theoretical chemistrv,he sau.thc <rxper- hi storv and epist em ologv,t her e is no neeclt o r ecall t hc sr r bsc-
imental mrxlification of natural pnrducts as a theoreticaltool for cl uent progr css,doubt s, r ct r cat s or cvcn t cm por ar y er r ( ) r st hat

I5 ( )
Ilowever tempting, it would be a nristaketo vierv this phe-
Pasteurnradc in elaboratingthis theorv. llLleolollrantl Ratlonal-
nomenon as bctokening a rediscovervof the concrctc individual
rr r ' ,pp. 68- 70]
paticnt set asideby the ven medicalscierrcerr hoseprogresseven-
tual l y reveal edt hc cxist enceol t he idiot vpe, AJt houghim m une
An Applied Science
identity is sometimesporrravcd, through abuseof ternrinology,
o f i ts rn i l i t ant sci enti [i ci ty by
[ 57] B ac t er iol o g vp ro v i d c d p ro o f
as i nvol vi ngan opposit ionof "sell" and "nonself , " it is a st r ict lv
g iv ing r is e t o t h c s c i e n c eo f i mrn u n o l o q v , nhi ch not onl v ex-
objcctive phenomenon. N4cdicinenlay sometimesappear to be
tcndccl anclrefined Pastcurianmedical practices but dcvcloped
thc application ofbiological linon l..dgeto concrete individuals,
into an autonomousbiologicalscience.lnrmunologvreplacedthe
but that appearanceis deceiving.The time hasnorv come to con-
Pasteurian rclation of virus to vaccinatc(lorganismlvith the more
sider thc epistemologicalstatusol medicine as such, leavinghis-
gencral relation ofantigen to antibody.The antigen is a generali-
torical matters aside. Given u,hat u,e know about immunologv,
zation ol the aggrcssormicrobe. The histc,ryof immunology has
genetics and molecular biology, or, looking backrvardin time,
becn a searchfbr the true meaning of the prcfix antr'-.Semanti-
about X-raysand cellular staining techniqucs, in nhat sensecan
c allr . it m c ans " a g a i n s t," b u t d o e s n ' t i t a l s o mean " before" ?
w e savthat me dicinc is an appliedscienceor an evolvingsynt he-
l' er hapst her e i s a rc l a ti o n , a s o f k e v a n d l o cL, tretw een these
t\x) DrenDiDgs. [. . .]
si sofappl i ed s ciencr : s?
It is appropriateto describemedicine asan "cvolving synthesis
;\s irnllrr:nologvbecameawarcol its scir:ntificvocation,it con-
ol'applied sciences,"insolir asthc rt'alizationof its goalsrequires
s r.ru g h i ts .rb i l i t ) to nrakeunantj c-
f ir nr ed it s r c ic n ti fi c s t..rtuth
haring not hing t o do wit h ir s
the use oI sci ent if ic <liscover ies
ipat ed dis c or c ri e sa n d to i n c o rp o r.rten e u concepts, one very
i ntri nsi c purpo ses.[ . . . ] ln usingt he t er m "applied sciencc, "t hc
striking examplebcing Karl I-andsteiner's discovervin 1907of the
accent, I thi nk, should f all on "scicnce. " I n sayingt his, I disa-
human blood tvpcs. Consistencyof rese.rrchfin<lingsis another
gree u'ith those rvho see the application of knowlcdge as involv-
criterion of scientillc status.Immunologicalfinclingsrvereso con-
ing a lossof theoretical dignitl', .rsrvell as those who think they
sistcnt, in fact, that immunologv's object ol researchcame to be
are deftnding thc uniquenessof medicine bv calling it a "hcal-
knorvn as the "immune s'stem," where the rvord "system" con-
ing art." The medical application of scientiflc knowledge, con-
notes a coherent structure ol positive and negativeresponsesat
verttd into remedies(that is, into ntcansofrestoring a clisturbed
the cellularand molecularlevel.The immrrnesystemconcept \4as
organi c equi l ibr ium ) , is in no senseinf cr ior in epist em ological
more eff-ectivcat "prescrving appearances"than the earlier con-
clignityto the disciplinesfrom rvhich that knou'leclgeis borrowed.
c t pt of " t er r ain ," In a s v s te mi cs tru c tu re , cvcl i cal efl ' ectscan
The application ofkno*'ledge is alsoan authentic form of exper-
appearto impede a causalityconstruedto bc ljnt'ar.'fhe immune
inrentation, a critical scarchfor eflectivc thcrapiesbasedon im-
s\stenr.morcover,hasthe remarkablepropertvlnot*n asidiotvpy:
ported unders t anr Jings.M edicine is t he scienceol t he lim it s of
an antibodv is specilic ncrtonll to a p.rrticularantigcn but also
the porversthat the other sciences<iaim to conf'erupc.,nit. i. . . ]
to a par t ic ular i n d i v i d u a l . T h e i d i o ty p e i s thc capaci tv ol thc
If the progressofa sciencetan be measuredbv the dcgrcc to
im m une s y s t emto e n c o d ea n o rq .rn i ci n d i v i (l u al i ty.

rtl
tt2
which its bcginningsare forgotten, then it is worth noting that
assistindividual human beingsuhose livcs are in dangcr,cven il'
u'hcn doctors today need to do a blood transfusion,they verilv thc
that meansr iolating thc requiremrntsof the rational,critic;l pur-
blood- t v p r:c o rrp a ti b i l i tv o fd o n o r a n d reci pi ent rvi thout Inorv-
sui t ofknor vlcgr : ,can it claim t o l. lecalleda science?
ing thar the tests th('t arc ordcring are the product ol a historl'
A c l t' veran<iI ear ncdhist r t t i. r nof m cdicine, K. r r l Rot hschuh,
that can be traced back through immunologv and bacteriologv
hasexanrinc<lthis issuein tcrnrs l)orrow(l fiom Thorn.rsKuhn's
to Ladv i\lontagu and EdrvardJenner,incleedto a typc of medi-
historical epistemologv.In 197?.he askcd*hether Kuhn's con-
cal practice that doctrinaire phvsiciansoncc consideredhereti-
ccpts of " nor m al scicncc, " "par adigm " and "scient if ic gr oup"
cal, That practice startedmedicinc dou n a road that brought it
could be applied to conceptualadvancesin clinical mcrlicine; he
int o c ont a c t w i th a p a rti c u l a rb ra n c ho f mathcmati cs,rhe math-
concluded that Kuhn's lramerrc'rli,rvhile uselul fbr rrnrl<'rstand-
em at ic sol u n c c rta i D ty C
. a l c L tl a re ud n c ertai nty,i t turned out, i s
i ng medi c ine'sincor por at ion of ar lr ancesin t hc basicsciences
not incomp.rtible n ith ctiologic.rl hypcrtheses an<lr.rrion.rldiag-
si nce the e ar ly ninet cent hcent ur v,il inadequat et o. r c<. <r r r nt
lor
nosisbast'don datagatheredrvith rhc aid ofsuitable insrrumcnts,
the cliflicultiesencountcrcdbl clinical medicine,due to thc com-
What cxl)(.rt is qualified to decidc thc epistemologicrl status
plcxitv and variabilitv of its object. He concludeclhis papcr * ith
of meclicine?Philosopherscannot bestorvupon themselvesthc
a quotation from Lcibniz: "l rvish that medical kno* ledge rere
por v c rt o ju d g e n o n p h i l o s o p h i c adl i s c i p l i nes.' l ' hctcrm " epi ste-
asccrtai n a sm edical pr oblem sar c r lif licult . " I n t hc cour seof his
mologv" rclers to the legacv,not to snl the relics,of thc branchof
anal vsi s,Rot hschuhr epor t st hat Kuhn oncc char act er izcdm ccli'
philosophvtraditionalh knorvnas"rheorv of kno* lcrJgc."Because
ci ne asa " plot osciencc, "r uher eashc, Rot hschLr h,
pr cli r s t o call
t hc r elat io n ,rf k n o r,' l e d g ero i rs o b j e c ts has bccn progressi vel y
it arr rrperaticrnal5cicnce (i?.r.-lriond!ellitsenschaIt\.'fhese tuo
r eue. . r led
by s c i c n ri fl c m e th o d s , c p i s tc mol ogv has broken w i th
appellationsare worth pausingovcr. "[)rotoscicncc" is ingenious
philos ophi c .rlJ s s u m p ti o n sto g i v e i ts c l fa neu.del l ni ti on. R athcr
bccauscit is ambiguous. Proto-is polvscnric:it suggcsrr"prior"
than dcduce critcria of scientificity fiom o prion categoriesof
as rrel l as "r udim ent ar v, " but it m av also r cf cr t o hier ar chical
understanding.as wasdone in thc past.it haschoscnto take those
prioritv. "Protoscicnce" is a term that might u.cll be applicd tcr
criteria Irom thc historv of triumpharrtrationality.Whv shotrldn't
an carl i er peliod in t he hist or l ol nr cr licine,but it scenr ssom e-
m c dic ine th r' rc fi rrc b e b o rh .j u d g c ;rn d p artv i n the cascj W hv
horl i roni c t o use it \ 1hensom c physiciar sbclievet hat t he t inr e
s hould it f c c l th c n e e d fb r a c o n s e c ra ti o nol i ts statusu i thi n thc
hascorne t o allor v com put cr s t o guide t r cat m ent s'lr ilc cr t her s
s c ic nt if ic c o rn m u n i tv ?M i g h t i t l re th a t m crl i ci nc has preserved
arguc th.rr pa(ientsought to be allorvedto consult thc machincs
f r om it s or i g i n s a s c n s eo f th e u n i < l u e n e ss
of i ts purpose,so that
di rectl v. )ct "opcr at ional science" sccm s no m or c appr opr iat c
it is a mattcr of some interest to detcrmine rvhether that senseis
a tcrm than "applied science, "uhich som e ninet r cnth- cent u r y
a tenuoussun ivnl or an essentialvocation?To put it in somervhat
phvsiciansthemselvesapplied ro their discipline as thc! beganto
different ternrs, arc rvhat used to I)e d.fr ofdiagnosis, dr'cision
treat pati e nt son t he basisol t heir unt ler st anding ol phvsicaland
and treatment abotrt to bccorne ro,/crrncilhr.y t.) somc c!)nrput-
chtnri calm<chanir m rt xplc'r t t l t r v phvsiolr r gistFor
s. c r nr plt ', t he
c r iz ed nr ed i c a l p ro g ra m?If m e d i ri n e c annot sl ri rk the duty to
rvork ol C a r lo M at cucci, Er r r ilcDu Bois- Rcvm on<l and Her r r r ann

tt1 '
rtt
.':

frl
N
tr
v on Helm holt z o n a n i ma l e l e c tri c i ty l e d Gu i l l aume-B enj ami n ical choice, neverthelessrcmainspresent.'fhat object hasa human
Duchennc de Boulogneto discovernew w-avsof treating muscu- form, that ofa living individual rvho is neither the author nor the
lar diseascs.llis major works, publishedbet$'een 1855 and 1867, masterof his own life and who must, in order to live, sometimes
bear titlcs incorporatingthe u'ord "application." rcly on a mediator. I lorvevercomplex or artificial contcmporary
An instructivcexampleis electrotherapy.It suggeststhat medi- mslicine's mediationmay be - rvhethertechnical,scientific,eco-
cine was impelled to become an applied scienceby the need to nomic or social - and however long the dialogue betteen doc-
discovermorc ef'fectivetreatments,as if in obedienceto its orig- tor and patient is suspcnded,the resolve to provide effective
inal imperativc. Later, ofcourse, the "scienceofelectricity" led treatment, which lcgitimatesmedical practice, is basedon a par-
to the devclopment not of therapeutic but of diagnosticdevices ricular modalitv of life, namely,human individualitv. In the phy-
such as the electrocardiograph(invented by Willcm Einthoven sician'sepistemologicalsubconscious,medicine is truly a synthcsis
in 1903),the electroencephalograph (JohanncsBerger,192'l)and because,to an evcr-increasingdegree, it applies science to the
cndoscopy.By treating the patient as an abstractobject ofther- task of preservingthe fragile unity of the living human individ-
apy,it rvaspossibleto transformmedicine into an appliedscience, ual. When the epistemologicalstatusof mcdicine becomesa mat-
with the accent now on science.Like any science,medicinc had ter of consci ousqucst ioning, t he sear chf br an answerclcar ly
to evolvethrough a stageofprovisionally climinating its concrete raisesquestionsthat fall outside the purvie$' of medical epistc-
init ial objec t . nrofr:rgv.["Statut 6pist6mologique,"Histoire,pp. 2 ] -291
Earlier,I called medicine an "evolving synthesisof appliedsci-
cnccs." Norv that I have discussedthe scnsein rvhich medicine
is an appliedscience,I haveonly to justily the choice of the words
"evolving" and "synthesis."Surely the reader will grant that any
science,w'hetherpure or applied,validatesits epistemologicalsta-
tus bv developingnew methods and achievingnew results.A sci-
ence evolvesbecauseof its interest in new methods fbr dealing
with its problems.For example,the existenceofchemical neuro-
transmitters u'as acknowledgcd(not without reservations,par-
ticularly in France) u'hen the work of Sir Flenry Dalc and Otto
Loewi filled in blanks in the resultsobtained bv electrical meth-
ods a centurv carlier.
So much for "cvolving" - but what about "synthesis?"A syn-
thesis is not a mere addition; it is an operational unity. Physics
and chemistry are not syntheses,but medicine ir, insofar as its
object, whoseinterrogativcprcsenceis suspendedby methodolog-

156 tt7

ti
tl
-T
P,cRt THnrr,

H i sto r y
Cs r pt t , n Sr vr N

Cell Theory

Theories Never Proceedfront Facts


[5S ] Is bi ologv . r t heor et ical or . r n e\ per im cnt al scienccl'Ccll
thcorl is an irlcal tcst case.\{i: can seelight u.avcsonlv rt ith rca-
son'seves,but u-c appearto viervthc cells in a plant section \4itlr
thc sanreeves\ve usc t() look at evt'ry<latobjects. ls ccll rheorv
.rnvthingnlorc th.rn.r set of observationalprotocols?With th< aid
,' l ,r nri cr,'scoPr '.
\ r { c. t n \ r e t hat m . r cr "r , ', I ic or ! : nt ) i\ Dtrs, 'n\ i. t
ol cells,just as\rc can seervith thc nakedevethat the sanreorgan-
i sms.rreeicm cnt sof t hc biospher e.Yct t hc m icr oscopccxt cnds
the po\\ers ofintellig<,ncemore than it does the polters crfsight.
Furthernrolc,t he f ir ! t llr enr iscof cell t heor v is not t h. r r living
thi ngs arr com post d of cells but t hr t o, / .living
1 t hings consistof
totfiind bul ce]ls; everv ccll, morcovcri is assumedto col't)elrom
a prccxi sting cell, Such an asser t ioncilnnot be pr ovcn wit h a
mi cr()scopc.At bcst , t he m icr oscope( in ser veas a t ool in t he
taskol rtrilicat ion. Bur r vher edid t he i<lcat r f t he cell conr c t ; om
i n thc l i rst place?l
Robert Hookc is gcner.rllvgiven to() nruch crc(lit fbr the fbr-
mulation ofcell theorv.Truc, he *.asthe llrst to discoverthe ccll,
somc.rvhatbv accidcnt , r s hc pur . _uecl
a cur iosit v ar vakcnedbv
mi croscoPr 'scar liesrI cr <l. r t ions.Alier r nakir r ga t hin slic. ' in. r

t ()t
piecc oIcork, I k-,<-,ke
observeclits compartmentalizedstructure.] A feu' vear s af t er llooke, in 1571, M ar cello lUalpi{hi and
He .rlsocoined the nord "cell" n hile under the spell ofan imager N ehi :rn iahG r eu' sim ult aneouslvbut indepcn<lcnt lvPUblishcd
the section of cork remindeclhim of a honeycomb, the rvork of their *,ork on the microscoPicanatomvof plants. Althcrughthev
. r n. r ni n ra l ,l rh i c h th e n fu rth e r re mi n ded hi m of a u' ork of man, clid not mention llooke, u'hat thcy discoveredwas thc sanrething
thc honevcomb being like a building macleup of manv ce.//s, or Irc had discovered,evenif the rvord las diflbrent. Both nrcn found
lmall rooms. But Hooke'sdiscovervled norvhere:it failed to open that l i ving t hings cont ain r vhat we nor v call cells' but neit her
up a new avenueof research.The lvord disappeared,only to be cl ai med t hat I iving t hings ar e not hing but cells. Accor ding t o
rcdiscovcrcda ccntrrrvlatcr. l\larc Klcin, moreovcr, Greu'subscribeclto the thcor,vthat cells
The discovcrvof thc ccll concept and the coining of the vvord arc precededby and groru out ofa so-calledrital lluid. l-he his-
nre \\'orth drvellingon lbr a moment. As a biological conccpt, the torv of this biological theorv is u'orth exploring in greatt'rdetail
cell is surclv ort'rdctcrminc<lto a considcrabledcgree.The psy- lbr u hat it can teach us about scientiflc reasoningin gcncral.
choanalrsisol knorvledgehas been sufficiently successfulin the As long as people havcbeen interestcdin biological nrlrrphol-
pas tr h n t i t n o \l c o n s ti tu te sa d i s ti n c t genre,to $ hi ch addi ti onal ogv, thcir t hinking has been dom inat ed bv t \ r r ) cont r ndict or l
contril>utir>ns mar bc ,rrlrledas thcy arisc, cvcn u'ithout system- inrnges- continuity Ycrsusdiscontinuitv.Some rhinkcrs inragine
rtic intention. BiologvcJasscs havefimiliarizcd all ofus u'ith rvhat l i vi nn thingsgr ou, ingout of a pr im ar v subst ancet har is cont inu-
is norr a lairl,, st.rnd.rrdinr.rgeof the cell: schematically,epithe- ous and pl. r st ic;ot her s t hink r il or ganism sas com posit esol dis'
Iial tissuen'scnrblcsi honc)'conrb,jThc w-ord"cell" callsto mind ( rctf pnrts,of 'brganic atoms" rtr "seedsr.,llilc." Continuit\' \'('lsus
not thc prisoner()r thc monk but the bce. Ernst Heinrich Haeckel cont inuunt ver susP. r lt iclc:r he nr ind im posesit s
< l i scont inuit v,
pointcd out that cells ofrvax filled with honey are in t'r'err,rvav 1,,.611nI 'i, r logrju\ t . r \ it ( loe\ ir r nI t ir
'.
analog < rut<
s .rc c l l s o f p l a n ts fi l l e d u i th sap.aI do not thi nk that Thc tcrm "protoplasm" now rcfirs to n constituenrofthc c<ll
this analogvexplainr the appcalof the notion ofthe cell. Yet rrho c,rnsi de r edasan at om ic elem entof a conr posit eor ganism .( ) r ig-
can s.rvu herher or not the human mind, in consciouslyborrou- inally, horvever,thc rvord ref'erredto the vital fluid out ol n'hich
ing lrom the bechivethis term lbr a part ofan organism,did nor aJl lifi' presumablvarosc. l-he botanist Ilug<r von l\lohl, <rneof
uncon5ciou!lvborrorv as uell the notion ofthe cooperativelabor thc fi rst t o obser vct he bir t h of neu cells bv dif ision ol exist ing
t h. r t pro d u c e s th e h o n e v c o m b ?J u s t as thc al vcol a i s part of a ones,proposedthe tenn in l8,ll: in his mind, it rcferredto a fluid
structure, becs arc, in Maeterlinck's phrase,inclividualswholly
P rcsentpr ior t o t he em er genccof anl solid cclls. I n 1315,l- clix
absorbcdbv the republic. In lact, the cell is both an anatomical I)ujardin had suggcstcdthc term "sarcode" fbr the ,iamcthing,
and a functional notion, refarring both to a fundamcntalbuild- namel v,a living jelly capableof subsequcntor ganizar ion.Even
ing block and to an individual labor subsumedby, and contribut- Thcodor Schrvann,the man regardedas the fbunder of cell the-
ing to. a largerprocess.What is certain is that affectiveand social orr', rvasinlluenced bv both imagcs:he belieled that a structure-
valuts of cooperationand associationlurk more or lessdiscreetly l esssub st ancc( t he cvt oblast em e) gives
r isc t o t hc nuclei . r r ound
in t hc b a c k g ro u n do [th e d e v e l o p i n gc el l thcorv. uhi ch cells f br m . I n t issues,cells I br m u'her evcrt hc nut r ient

162 r6l
liquid penctriltes.This theoreticalambivalcnceon thc prrt of thc " ,rni rralsand plant s t hat can m ult iplr an<lr t pr ocluct jn , r ll t heir
aut hor s1 r' h o< l i dmo s t to e s ra b l i s hc e ll rhcorv l ed Marc K It' i n t< r I).u-ts .lreorganiTedln,lies compctscd,rl other, sinrilarrrtganicltorj-
make.r remark that has considerablebc.rringon uhat I rvirh to ies, rvhoseaccuntulatedquantitv rre can disccrn rvith rhc cvc but
argue hcrc: "What rve fincl, then, is thar a small numbcr of basic * hoseprimitive parr! \\'c can percciveonlv rvith thc aitl of reason."
idcas rt'cur insistentlv in the rvork of authors concerncd rvith a Fron this, Bufion deducedthat there arc infinitelv manv org.rnic
rvidc varir'tvofobjects fronr a number of dif-terentpoints of vit'\1. l)art\, cach conrposecl <rfthc samesubstanccas"organizcdbcings."
'fhe,- cerr.rinlydid not t.rkc thesc idt'.rsliorn Thcse or ganic par t s, com nr on t o aninr alsa, r d l) lnnt s,ar e pr im i-
one.rnorher. These
f ir ndar n e n tahl v p o th e s c sa p p c a r to rc prescnt pcrsi stcnrmocl cs ri !' ( .rn( lincor r upt iblc. What is called "gener at ion"in biologv is
im plic it i n th c n a tu rc o l s c i e n ti fi ce x p l anati on."tansl ati ng thi s nrtrel v t he conjun<: r ionof som e num t r cr ol pr im it ivc or ganic
cpistcmologicalotrscrvationinto philosophicalterms, it f'ollou's parrs;s ir nilar lv,deat h is m er elvt he disper sionof t hosc par t s.
that tlr.oricsnetcrprocecd Jrontfo.tr, a finding that conflicrs rvith Thc hvpot lr esisr hnt or ganiTedbcingsconsistof pr im it ive or -
t he er np i ri c i s tp o i n t o f l i e n rh a t s c i enri i rsofi cn adopt uncri ri - 1.rnicprrts is thc onh onc. Buflirn nrgucs.c(rpableol arrridin{ the
callv when thev trr to philosophizcabout thcir cxpcrimenr.rlfind- rl i fl i cu lt ics encount er edbv t r vo car lier t heor icst har claim ed t o
ings.Theoriesariseonlv out of carlicr thcorics,in somc cascsvcrv cxpl ai n t he plr enom enaof r cpr ocluct ion,nam el\ ',ovi5m and ani-
nld oncs. l'he ficts are merelv the path - anclit is rarell a strnighr mal culism .Bot h ol t hesc t heor iesassum ccl t hat her cdit l is uni-
path - br rvhich one theorr' leaclsto another. Auguste Contte l areral:ovist s, f bll, r ', r 'ingRegncr dc Cr aal, claim cr l t h. r t it was
shrt'rltllvc.tllcrlittention to this relationof therrrr to theory \\'hen matcrn,rl,u hercasanirralctrlists,follorring Anthonie ratrLrcu* en-
he rerrrlrkcd that sincf .rn cmpirical obscrvation prcsul)posc5a hoecl ,11gu, , ,t1hat it r r aspat cr nal.But lbn,alcr t t o phcnonr r naol
t heor v t (J l o c u s th e a tte n ti o n , i t i s l o g i cal l r i nevi tabl ethat fal se hvbri clizat ion,
believcdt hat her edit vm ust be bilat er . r l. , r is
s clear
t lr c or ie sp re c e d etru e o n e s .[...] fron Chapt crf ivc of his *or k. l'hc lact sr cinf br cedt his bclicf : a
T hus , i l rv c * i s h to l i n d th c tru c ori gi ns ofccl l thcorv. .,r,e chi l d could r cscm l) l( 'r : it her his f it hcr or his nr ot lr i r . Thus, hc
nr lr s tno t Io o l to th e (l i s c r)\c l .\o f c e rtai nmi croscopi cstructures rvritcsin ChapterTcn, "Thc fbrmatiorrof the letus occrrrsthrough
in liv ing th i n g s .l C o n n a tts o n cpc p, .4 7 -5tl ] crtmbi n. r t ionol or llanic m olcculesin r hc m ixt u|c com poscdol'
rht sem inallluids <r fcllo individuals. "[. . ]
Comte Buffon, or the Discontinuous ImoBinqtion In Buf lbn'svie\ \ ',Ne$t onian m cchanicsexplicit lv had jur is
[59] In thc rvork of BufILrn,rvho, asN4arcKlein points out, nrade cl i cti onover t he or g. r nizat ion
of living t hings:
lit t le us e o f th e m i c ro s c o l > eu, e fi n c l r theorv of the composi -
t ion ol li v i n g th i n g s- i n < l r,c <a1s. v s te nr,i n rhe ei ghreenrh-ccntury It i s obrioust h. r rneit hert hc c ir cLr lat ion
oi t hc t 'Lxxlnor r hr m or c-
s c ns cof th c tc rm. B u tT i rnp ro p o s e cal seri esol -rxi oms to crpl ai n l ncnt ol t hc m usck. 'nor r hc anint . ll[ unct ionrcanbc cxpl. r inecl in
certain f.rctshaving to do chiellv rvith rcpro<luctionand herecl- tt:rmsol im pulseor anr ol t he lar vsoI or r iinr r vm cchanics.
I t is just
itv. In Chiptcr Trvo ol thc Ilistoirenaturellcdcsonimour (t;^-18), rs obviousthat nutrition,(lcvelopmcnt .rnrlrt productir:,notrevothcr
he set forth his "thcorv of orqanicmolecults." In Bul'lon'srvords, la\s. Whv not .tcLno(lerlge,thfn, tltrt therc arc lirrccspcnetral-

1 6 .1 r 6t
ing andactingupon the maslesol bodics,sincerre haveexamples I ight, heat and fire are diflircnt modes of existenceol the same
oI lb rc c si n th c s u b s ta n coef b o d i e si n magncti cattracti onsand common material.To do sciencewasto try to {ind out ho$',"rvith
chcmical.rffinitics?5 this singlc source ofenergy and single subject, nature can varv
its rvorks ad infinitum."s If, moreover, one assumesthat living
C)rganicmoleculesattract one another in obedienceto a lar; of mattcr i s not hing but or dinar y m at t er plus heat , a cor Puscular
morphological constnncy,constituting an aggregatcthat Buf'fbn conccption of m at t er and light inevit ablvleadst o a cor PUscular
called the "internal mold." Without thc hypothesesof intcrnal conceptionof living t hings:
mold and organic molecule, nutrition, development and rcpro-
duc t ion rv o u l d b e u n i n te l l i g i b l e .[...] All the cflicts of crudemattcrc.rnbe relatedto attractionalone,
Thcrc can be no doubt that Buffon hopcd to be the Nervton all ol the phenomena oi living martcrcan bc rt'latedto that same
of the organic lorld, much as David Humc at around the samc l;rcc ofattrnctioncouplerlrvith the lirrceol heat.By lit'ingm.rttcr
time hoped to bccome the Newton of psvchology.Ne*,ton had I orcannot onl'r'allthingsthat livc or vegctatcbut all livingorganic
demonstratedthat the forcesthat movc the starsare thc sameas rnolcculesdisperscd andspreadaboutin thc dctritusor residucol'
thosc that move objccts on the surfaccofthe earth. Gravitational organizedbodies.LI ndert hc headol livingm at t erI also includc
attrnction explained horv simple massescould fbrm more com- to trt to be
light. lirc and heat,in a nord, all marterthat aPpcars
plex svstemsof matter. Without such a forcc ofattraction, real- rctivetrr itscll.e
it v uou l d b e n o t a u n i v e rs cb u t j u s t s o much dust,
[:or Buffon, the hvpothesisthat "mattcr lost its forcc ofattrac- Thi s, I believe,is t hc logic behinclt hc t hcor y of or ganicm ol-
t ion" u ' a se < l u i v a l c n to
t th e h y p o th esi sthat " obj ccts l ost thei r ecul es,a biological t heor l t hat owed it s exist encet o t he pr es-
cohcrcnce."6A good Newtonian, Buffon believed that light i{as tigc ol a phvsicaltheory. The theorv of organic molccules is an
a corpuscularsubstancc: exampl eof t he analvt icm et hod in conjunct ion r vit h t hc cliscon-
tinuous imagination,that is, a penchantfbr imagining objects bv
'I hc smallest
moleculcsofmatter,thc smallestatomsrveknolr,,are analogvu ith discreterather than continuousmodels,Thc discon-
thoseol light... . t.ight,thoughscemingly
blessed
rvith a qualitvthe ti nuous im aginat ionr educest he diver sit vof nat ur e t o ur lif or m -
cxactoppositeof weightiness,
n irh a volatilitvtlratmightbe thought it1,,to "a singlc sourcc of energyand a singlc subject." That one
essential
1{)its nature,is ncvertheless
ashcavyasanvother matter, elcment, the basisof all things,thcn fbrms compoundsu.ith itself'
sinceit bendsrrhcnit passes
ncarorherbodiesandlindsirscllrvithin that produce the appearanceof rliversitv:nature variesits norks
rcachof their sphereol attraction.. .. And just asanvform of mat- .rcli nfi nit um . - f hc lif e of an indiviclual,u'het hcr . r n anim al or a
t c r c a n c o n v e rti ts c l f i n to l i g h t rh roughextremesubdi vi si on
and plant, is therefore an efl'ectrather than a causc,.rproduct rather
clispcrsion
throughimpactof its infinitesimal
parts,so,too, canlight than an essencc.An organismis a mechanismrvhoseglobal cllect
be convertedinto anyother firrm ol ntattcril, throughthe attrac- is the nccessarlconscqucnccof thc arrangcmcntofits parts,Truc,
tion ofother bodies,its componentpartsarcmadeto coalesce.T l i vi ng i n dividualit vis m olecular ,m onadic.

t67
'l h c lili oi
an . n, nr "t . r . pt . - "r , r 1 s c c m s . i s m e r e l , -r h c
rcsujt of all
th e n c t ion\ , of all t he lit t le. indiv idua l) i v e r ( j f I l er e , th e i d ta Ih a t o r g a n i sm s <) r eco m p ( ) \i tL ,s 1 ) f.e l e m cn ta r l
I nra\ plrr it thar rra.!
) lili' li-rrrnsis merclv a Iogic.rl crrnseclutnce ot a rrl()re b.rjic lrotion,
ol each ol irs .rctivcmcrle<uics, ,r.hoseIilc is
pt inririvc and rpparently
(nnnor [)c drstrovtd. \,\,r have l h i c h i s th a t tl te e l e r n cn ts o l l i fc a r e r cl e a se cJw h cn th e
firund there living molecules in afl larger
li! ing ()r vcgcraringthings: rvc are certain l o r m s to u h i ch b e l o n g ( l i si n tcg r a t( ,. Th c u .h o l e to k", p r "_
r h tl
that all thcsc organic rnol_
cculcs lre equalll.cssential ro thc nutrjrjon c c d ( n ( e ( ) \'e r th c p a r t5 . K l e i n sta tcs r h i s cxp l i ci tl \.;
ancl thercl.irrr to the
.cproducrion ol animals and pl.rnrs. It
is not difl.icult to inraginc,
rhert'lbr'c,rhat n.hen a ccrtain number oi.thcsc t h<,.rssociation
oi primitirc anirnalsin the grriscot lir ing llcsh shorrlcl
nrolcculesare joinerl
togcther, rhe\ ti.rnna living thing: sincc nor br' thought ol rs a rrechanjcalcoupling ol orrc rnim.rl
thcre is lil.e in each ofirs to rn.rhcr,
parts. lile can also bc lbund io the r,rholc. rs in a pilc ol srnd rr.hr.rctbc onh rcl.rtirrnrmong thcgr;insol.rvlrjch
that is, in anv rssemblagc
ol tbose p.rrts. it i\ c{).npo\ed is onc ol p;e*1n,1,r..
Justar orr{cn anrl hvdrogcnrlis_
. t p p c,1 rf n \\'r tcf, j u \r a s m ( r cu r \ .r n d su l l i l d i ;.r p p e a r
i n ci n n a b a r ,
s hat rrkt.splacc hr:r(.is a truc in
fCo n na is s anc cpp.
. 52- S6l
rrniric,,ri'n'1
;r,h"",.,",.,."r"::''i":l;';]H,:i:l::l'l;:li:l:l
n,'lr l. , r l r l, , . jr , r r r r .lll. r r ,
Lorenz Oken, or the Continuous Imagination 1, lr , , . , lr rr lr , \ , r r i, ( , , j r l, ilh, . r , , r l. r , ,
irnrandrrorLrrrvarrl.runiqrrraorlcornmonl.Llncti()n. orperh)rmrhrr
[60] Charles Singcr and N,larc Klein, asircil as Ernile
Gur(rnor, l i rnct ionin pur suingt hcir or vnt ndr . ller e,no
tlrou gh to a les s el dc gr c c , t jid not f ail inr lili<lLris , r spar
l ocl;
to norc rhc.."al, au",u
Okcn fbr rhe fbrmulation of cell theorv. nl l n r c r r cr ilicc( I llut . t hc l. r nguagt .ris r lislt , r cling.
Oken bclonged to the |r r r hc com hina_
Romnnric ti oo ol inr lirjr lr nlir jesiir r nt slnor hcr jnt lir jr lr r . r lir._r l .
schoolol narurephilosophcrs fbuna",lby 5i;"11;n".ru he lir r r nt 'rar t ,
Thc spcculations tkrtr'orctl,rnd tbc lattcr.rpprars <rnh.r,.rll.sultr,l thar<i(.\tfu(
of rhisschtnl harlasnruchinttu.,n." on ri(Jn.rl
nin( t ( , . n l h -(c n rU r\ C trm .rn ians ""iiy
l rh rri r Jn,l bi oi ogl \t. n.,,n,r," ,,
ol I r ( t ( r .. T h ,.r,.i r n o ru p ru rc o l (o l r(i ul ri L\ \\rc.rrc , along uar lr onr Bt r llir n.The or ganism
hetrr..n r)k,.n.rn,l is not a st r ntol. elc_
rncntar vbir , logicalcnt it ics: it is. r at hcr ,
the firsr biolo{ri\tsthat u.ould offer deliberate a hi- qht rent it r . r rhose
emplrical sufport cl cmi n f s ar c subsunr ed.\ \ r jt b t , xcm pJan.
tbr ccll thcorv. j\,lathias Schleiclen, pr ecision,O Len anr ici_
Jacob rlho f;rst t;._rt","
patcd t hc t her . r r ol r clcgr <. cs ol indir i( llr alir \ .-.lhis *as nr or e t han
l ,rr p l ,rn r.i t l ti s fl a 1 1 7 4,u,17apfrr.roycnc,rs ( t8 .t8;,rarrghr
.: r: ,t 1,
lhr' t.: l.lln
i i \e r.i r\
o l J rl l a . rrh e rc me m,r (,\ ol ()Lcn,. Justi ' ll )r clcnt im cnt , t hou{h it di( l aDt icipat ($, lr at t cchniqucs
ol
teJch:ng ccl l an clt issut .cul r ur cs, r , oulr l t cach
\\'erestill fresh.Theodor Schrvann,rvho cont cm por ilr . . lr iol<, . 11ist s
bctu.een lgig an,l lg,li abor:td if f i'r . enccs
gener aliz e dc e l l th e o rv to i l l l i v i n g th i ngs, bcr ucc. nr lhr t Hat s pct er scncllled t hc , . inr li_
had seena good dcal l i rJLraIlili ", r r r r l t hc. ', pt olcssional
of Schleiden and his tcacher, iit e', ol. ct lis. O ken r hought of
Joharrnes,\liiiicr, ,, h., hud be"n a thc org anism . r sa kin<l of societ v,
nat ur eph i l o s o p h e ri n h i s r..ru th .rrS i n g er Dut t hat s( ) clct \ .\ 1. asnot an
i s rhus l i rl l v j usti fi cd i n .r' .,' ri ,rr i, r noi r r r , lir i, lr r . r l. . r . , , , r r r r ir e, l
remarking that Okcn .,in a senscsou,erl h. , .r 1, , .1, , , liii,r l 1, f r i1, , , , ,
the irjeasof the authors phr' .oft hc Enlight enm cntbut ,
r eg. r r dedi n h i s s tc a da s th c r at hcr ,i conr m lr nJt r . r sconc. cilt , r l
fo r.rn d c ri l l thcorr.,,f...]
o fc e I' r tIr, I', , I ir jr . r I
1, lr il, , . o1, Jr r f. t, , ,f nr , r r r r i,
i. r n. . . -
r()t{
i{'9
his deat h bv
(tu\ onilt t ou\et our ligdr our ' publishcdat t er
Comparisotris inc!itnl)le betr'een Okcn's biological thcories n)Ltns
"an J! t 'r t Pat -"f ' lc.
t h'' "r {Jniim J\
and t he po l i ti c a l p h i l o s c ,p h vo f th e Gc rm an R omanti cs
rvhonr ,tr' ,r. ," ttt U- t o. r le'cr ibcd
Pr ln( ll'l( 'r I
Novalisinfluenccd so dceply.Novalis'sGlaubeund I iebe:der
Kdnig l n(nrJr\ (i ll\ or or gani: 'm : . ''lher cbt 'lllir m ingt hr
const ir uent s' This is t ant aDloulltt o
un<ldie Kdnil]inappearcd in 1798; his Europo odet dic Christenheit Jutonomy f br anat om ical
bcha't
itt", a.tt' behavein association iust asrheuI'ould
rvaspublislretlin f800; C)kcn'sDie Zeugunllcanteout in 1805'The ".r..,itg for them
\lere lhr s^me as that crcated
first t\r'o rvorksarc vt hementlv criticai of levolutionarr thinking' ,,r ,r"f"it"" if the rnilicu
rvorcls'
pulvt'rizcdthe popular rvill .*.,,it" *" organismbl thc action of nealbt cells ln other
Nov.rlisallegedthat univcrsalsLrffrage Notc' though'
os th?' do in societ)"
and tailed to give due w-cightto social, or, more preciselr' com- ..1f. ,,rrl,J li"e in libertvetoct\'
srrbstanccs that control the lilL'
mun.rl,contitruitv. AnticiPating tlegel, Novalis(like Adam Hein- ,; O"rr;"*, that it the regulaiive
and inhibit ion at e t he slm e ln n
lich MLiller a ieu yearslater) consideredthe state to be a reality ,,t th" ." l t t hr ough st im ulat ion
int cr nal envir onm entof t he or gan-
l illed bv Crxl, a fict surpassingindividual rtason to
.-hich the .,,t,ur" nl t ; . ". "il' o' in t hc
cclls I ive in liber t v' Never t hcless'
indi, nir luam l u s t s .rc ri Ii c ch i ms e l l Ifth c re i s an anal ogvbctueen ,r-,' ,,n" .. nn, r , saYt hat t he
bv meansof a colllPalison'
these sociologicalviervsand bioloqical thcorY. it is' as has often n".n.rd, L.,ping to clarif,vhis meaning
r lr inq "'r t J- (r t \ \ \ ilh il' '^r n
been remarkcd,becausethc RomanticsinterPrctedpolitical cxpe- .r.k. u. t" c onr ir letJ ( om l) lc\ lir ing
t ni''r I h( \ Jm ( r ( lentr ( Jr
r ienc c in t e n n s o l a " v i ta l i s t" c o n c c P ti ol lofl i l e' E venas French \l ( r i al \l Jm l) , " r r rr r hit h int li' i'lr r 'r l'; r ll
vet contributc.to sociill life
p,-rliticalthinkers rvcrc offering thc idcasof the social contract innd nn,l th.i rorrr"generalcaplcitics
labor and skills'
and universalsufliage to rhe F.uroPeanmind, thc l italist school t,,-atti " * ., uaYst h; oush t hcir specialized
ur ot c"'Thc cells ar c t r ulv
of Frenchmctlicine rvasproposingan imageof lifc as 11115csnding In 1899,Em st Heinr ich Hacckel
ot r r l) odv' t he
cit izens,billions o[ 'r '] r ichcom pose
. i ta l i s ts c l e n i cdthat organi smscoul d
anaht ic al u n d e rs ta n d i n gV i ndependr . : nt
the "assemtrlv<rtindcpcn-
bc under s to o rla s me c h a n i s n l sl;i l e , th e v argued,i s a fbrnr that ctllular state"{1 Pcrhrpstnrrgessuclrls
more than iust mct'1-
c annot be re tl u c c dto i ts ma tc ri a l c o mP oncnts'V i tal i st bi ol ogy <knt citizens" cotrstitLltinga "statc" r{erc
(lominatebiological theorv'
provideda totalitarianpolitical philosophyl ith the meansto Pro- phors. Political philosophvsccmsto
becausehe bclieled in
pos ec er t a i n th c o ri e so fb i o l o g i c a l i n d i v i dual i tv'though P hi l oso- What man could sal that he rvastepublic'rn
he rrasa rel>ublicatl?
phy $, asun d c r n o c o m p u l s i o n to d o s o . Il orv true i t i s that the ccll tlteorv or a bclie"er in ccll thelrrvl>ccausc
rr -f,, fr" sure' Bernardan<lllaeckel rtere not altogetherimmune
problem of indiiiduality is indivisiblc fConnainoncc, pp 58-63]
philosophicalsin'
to phi l osophicalt em Pt at ion or {xcm Pt t iom
Bouin and
fhl s"..,nd chapttr of l\Iarcttl Prenant' I'aul Andrd
End uring Thcmes lhich Nlar c
that i nspi redthesespec- l .crui sC a m illc Nlaillar d's 1901 lt Lt it ; d'hist olollic'
[ 61] l) id t h c c o n c e p tso l i n d i v i d u a l i tv sur I o
K l ei n crc<iit s,alr r ngr vit h Felix llennegr r v'sI egons 'clluie
ulationsabout thc comPositionoI organisrnsdisappealaltogethcr
(1896),$'ith being thc tirst cLrssi<'rl uork to inrroducecell theorv
;rmongbiologistt tntlv sorthv of llcing calleclscientists?APPar-
i n thi : tc . r chingof hist ologv in Fr ance'15 r vasr T'r it t cnbv Pr enant '
c nt l] not .
The auth or 'ssvm p. r t hies lbr ccll t heor v dit l not blind him t o lact \
Claude Bcrnard,in his lcqonrsur /esphinominesde Ia vie com'

tJl
:i
= = = ii,- '1:27+iiiiiz +i::2::,i
= i i i ;2;;,:,t:=1
: i==i 1=:=TZt Z Z i+
i : =: ai: = iirzz;;=_ i=i;= : il ?ii:==,
?-=-j ..j,+t E=i r=l= 7 = :, :2=? : s ; : ' r : = = rt 1
?
iiii:ii
liEi:
zi:Eij;t =;;
=1ii1:,ii
zil::iil,=;::=rti::i:
=+ii,1:=,;1j =;7
i * ; i, _i i i 7 i = - , i l= 1 I 1 =r 7; i
: , =,
: ,| 2 1=:
=ia
i :i'i: :i j ; ; l t: : i :i; ii
==21,==2{==
i ;=i Z :i =; i ::: 1 ;t1i i 1 =, +i 2! ; i: i
u ilZ=.i
iz:iii i:ii1=11;, :j1t=
, =: i:=2- : ==+i ::1t1 =:=1 = i 1=i=:11
=: 1i, 7 :i=: j. i ; z i;i ,t:Ii t i z ' ,' zii. i
ii: "=i i +i :,= : 1i= :-:== ,;,
z:+:=:!=Z
: ii : z =Z ; z i: =ti l = i : = = :i = Zi t;
=!i
=i:!= -,ii ;;:
7 =r = i==i = i 7 i ==:i :; = i :
. is t he m u s c u l ,l rs \' s tc n to r o f s u c h l o rnrati onsas pl asnrodi aor in which
onecansarinagcnelalr l. r t t hr t . r ll t he pr c, cesscs
P crh aps
s v nc it iac o n s i s ti n go l c o n ti n u o u srn a s ses
ofcl topl asm u.i th sc.rt- asa whole ( andin pat hologvt her car c le*'
thc bodl'par t icipat cs
t er ec lnu c l e i . In th e h u ma n b rx i v , o n l v the epi thel i a are cl earl v in
processcs whercthis is not the case)arudillicult to understand
cellularized.Betweena ficc ct'll such asa leucocyte and a svncv- oroan-
terms of tic ccllular stateor the thcor.vol cellsas inclcpcndent
t ir im \ uc h a s th e c a rd i a c rn u s c l c o r t he surl i ce ofthe chori al ( Jir cn shich or qanism
[ , eh; r ves,
i vnr. [ - . . 1 t he wav i, r r he ccllular
v illos it i e s o f th e fe t.rl p l a c e n ta ,th e r e arc i ntermedi ate fbrms,
livcs,\1orks,maintainsitscll againstthe attacksof irs cnvironment
s uc h as th c g i a n t m u l ti n u c l e a r c c l l s ( pol vcarvocvtcs),ancli t i s
anrlrcgainsits equilibrium,the cclk arcorganso{ a unil;rm brxlr.
dillicult to savu,hether syncitia dcvelop through firsionofonce_
indc pc n d e n tc e l l s o r v i c e re rs a . Bo th ntechani smscan. i n fact,
Il crc tbe pr oblem of individualit v com t s up a{ain: a t ot nlit v, ini-
bc obs crv e < I. E v e ni n th e d e v e l o p n re nofan c egg. i t i s not certai n ti al l y resist antt o division of any kind. t akes pr ior it v over t hc
that cvcry cell comesfiom the divisiono[a preexistingccll. Emilc
aromistic vicrl dcrived fiom an attcmPt to subdividc the u'hole.
Rhoc lev v a sa b l e to s h o u i n 1 9 2 3 th a t i ndi vi dual cel l s, i n pl anrs
P (tcrse nquit e per t inent l) quot esa r em . r r km aclebv JuliusSachs
as r v ell a s rn i ma l s , fre q u e n tl v rc s L rl rl i om thr subdi ri si on ofa
i n 1887conct r ning m u) t icellularplanr s:"Whct her cclls seemt , r
pr im ir iv e p l a s mo d i u rn( n ru l ti n u c l e a rem ass).
be cl cment . r r rindcpendcntcr r ganisnror s sim plv par t sol a * hole
B ut t h c a n a ro mi c a l.1 n do n to g e n c t i caspectsol thc probl em
tlcpentlsentirelv on hov se look.rt thingt."
are not thc rvhole stor.v.Even authors u,ho, like llans petersen,
In rc ccnt vcar s,incr ( asing<loubt sanclcr it icism s havebccn
ac k nonl c d q eth a t th r rta l b a s i so f c e l l theorv i s thc devel opment
roi ccd a boutcell t hcor ! in it s classical{br r r , t hat is, in t he f lr cd,
< r l m e r . rz o a ,a n d * h o s e e th e p ro d u cti on of chi rl eras - Ii vi ng
l t t xt bookr , evcn t hose
rl ogmat iclbr m in r vhich it ir pr esent r 'tin
things crcatcd by artificiallv combining cgg cells fiom different
intendcdfbr aclvancccl studcnts.rT Tlrcre is f;r lessobicction todaY
spccies- assupportingrhc "additive" compositionof living things
to nonc ellularcom poncnt sof or ganism sanclt o m echanism sbv
arc obliged to admjt rh.rr the explanotionof the of these
Junctions rrhi ch c clls c, r n be f br m eclout ol cont inuous m asscsol pr ot o-
oqdnisnlstontrudictsthc e\pldnatlonol thcir genuir.If the bodv is
pl asrnth an t her e *as n'hcn Rudolph Vir chon, in Cer m anv,cr it i-
r c allva co l l e c ti o no fi n d c p c n d e n tc e l l s ,hou,doesonc cxpl ai nthc
ci zcd Theodor Schuann's icleaof , r cr t oblast em c and Char les
harmoniousflnctioning of the largerrrnit? If the cells arc closed
Robin, in Frincc, rvaslookcd upon .rs.r cantankerous,old-laslr-
svstems,h(^! can thc organismlive arrd.rct as a $,holei One wav
iont'<licoroclast, In 1941,Tivid.ir Huztll.r shorveditr his luischcn
t c r r c s olv e th e d i fl i c u l tv i s to l o o k l i rr a coordi nati ng mecha- Zcl [enO r 11ont sat ion
t har int er cellularr elar ionsanr l e\ t r r cellul. r r
nism: thc ncrvous system,say,or hctrntonalsecretions.But the i ubstan ces( such as t hc int cr st it ial lvnr ph and noncellular ele-
connection ol most cclls to the ncrv()ussl,stemis unilateral and nl ents ol'conncct ivet issue)ar c jr lst as im por t ant biologicallr . r s
nonr ec ip ro c a l a
; n d ma n \ r i ta l p h e n o 6 q pl , especi al l vthoseasso- thc cel ls t hcnr selves.
The int er cellularr oid t hat or r c can scc iD
c iat ec lr v i th re g L n e r,rri o na,r( ra rh e rd i f fl cul t to erpl ai n i n terms thosc pr epar at ionsm at le t o be vicr r cr l t hr ough. r nlicr oscopcis
of hormonal regulation,no matter ho\l. complcx. petersenthere- bv no meansdevoid ol hist ologic. r fl t r nct ion, I n l9- 16,I '. Busse
fbre remarkcd: (i raui tz concluded on t hc basisol his r cscar cht hat cells can

t 71 t 7t
')

appearin b a s i c a l l la c e l l u l a rs u b s ta n ces.lAsccordi ng to cel l thc- ari sc, ofth e t r ot hv uave t hat bor e \ t nus ot t it s f ir am ?Char les
orr, lunclamcntalsubstances (srrchasthe collagenofthe tendons) N aucl i n,a Fr ench biologist r vho canlc close t o discover ingt he
n'lustbe secrctedby the cclls, evcn if it is not possibleto savpre- marhcma t icallaws of her edit v bcf br e G r cgor Nlendcl,t hought
cisell horv the sccretion takesplace. Ilcre, ho*ever, the ordcr is that thc p r ir nor dial blast cm c was t he "cla\ " m cnt ioned in t hc
rcverscd.Of cout sc, the cxPerimcntnlargument in such a theorY Biblc. r')This is u,hr' I haveargutrdthat thcorics clo not .rriseli om
is ncgativcin naturc: thc researchertrusts that sulficient Precau- thc licts thcv order - or, to Put it more preciselv,f)cts r/o act
tions havc been taken to Prevcnt the migration of cells into thtr as a sti mulus t o t heor v,bt r t t her neit hcr cngenclcrt he conccPt s
lcellular substancein rvhich cclls arc seento cmerge' In Francc, that provide t hcor ics r vit h t hcir int er nal coher encenor init iat e
of a rabbit cm- thc i ntcl l ect ualam bit ions t hat t heor ics pt t t . sueSucham bit ions
JeanNageottc had observecl,in the dcvelopment
bryo, that thc corneaof thc eve first appears to bc a homogcne- come to u s f r om long ago,and t he num bt r ol unif i ing concePt s
ous substancccontaining no cells during thc first three davsof i s smal l .That is uhy t hcor t 't icalt hcm cssur vivcevt n alt er cr it ics
grorvth - vet, in light ol Virchou"s larv, he bclieved that those are pleascdto think that the thcories associatcdu ith thcm have
cells that appearcdsubscquentlvmust havcarrivcd there through p, 791
becn refirterl.lConnoissonce,
migration. Yet no such migration rvasever observed.IConnois-
s anc e,
1> p .7 1 -7 6 1
i s procecdi ng
f 6ll It i s n o t a b s u rdto c o n c l u d c t hat bi ol ogY
torvar<ta svnthetic |icrv of organic structure not unlike the sYn-
thesis that uave mechanicsbr-oughtabout betn'een concepts as
sceminglv contradictorv as \\'aveand particle. Ccll anclplasmo-
clium are among the last incarnationsof the contradictorv de-
mandsol'discontinuity and continuitY u'hich theoristshavefaccd
$c r s in c c h u m a n b c i n g s b c g a n to th i nk. P crhapsi t i s true that
scientiflc theorics attach their fundamentalconcePtsto ancient
images- I rvould even bc temPted to savmyths, if the rvord had
not bee n s o d e v a l u e db .r' i tsrc c e n t u s c i n phi l osophi esobvi ousl v
createdfor purpoies of propagandaand nrystification.Folw'hat,
in t he e n d , i s th i s c o n ti n u o u s i n i ti a l pl asma,thi s pl asma that
biologists havc used in one fbrm or another ever since thc prob-
lem of identifvinga structurccommon to all living thingsrvasiirst
of the
pos c d in o r< l e rto d e a l rv i th th c Pe rcei vcdi narJequaci es
corpuscularcxplanation?Was it anvthingother than a logical ava-
tar of thc mythological fluid fr.om 'vhich all life is supposedto

t 76 t77
C rr a p r r tt E I c H r

The Concept of Ref lex

Epi st emol og i co I Prej u d i ces


[6'1] Broadlyspeaking,the varioushistoricsofresearchinto rellex
nrovrmcnt havefiiled ro discrirninatcsuflicientlv anrongdescrip-
ti on of aut om at ic nr ur onr uscularr esponscsjexpcr im ent alst uclv
ol .rnatomicalstructurc! and their lunctional interactirrns,and fbr-
mtrl ati onol't he r ef lcx cl. r r r r . cpt
and it s gener alizat ionjn t hc f br m
of a theorr. l'his f)ilure accountsfbr thc surprisingcliscrepancics,
* hen i t com cs 1o ; r var r lingcr . edit lbr an or iginal ( lisco\ er v . , r
anti ci pat iont o a par t icularindividual,am ong hist or iansas r vell
as bi ol o gist scngagedin lr ackingt hc claim s of cer t r in of r hcil
col l eag ues.
Fl ereI pr oposer o dist inguishpoint s o1 r . ier vt hat ar c all t oo
olien confbundcd. ,\1r'purposeis not to right u,rongs,lil<esonrc
scholarlvavengcr,but to clrarvconclusionsof potential v.rluc to
epistemologvand thc hisrorvoi'science.Indccrl,the ultim.rte rca-
son l br thc exist enceof diler gent hist or icshas t o do u, it h t r vo
rathcr $.idespreadprejutJices.One of these involvesall thc sci,
encesrpcop]c are disposr:dto heljevethaf a conccpt caDoriSiDate
onlv n ithin the franrervorkol a thcorv - or, at anv ratc, a heuris-
ti( - honpgeneousrr ith the theorv 1)rheuristicin tcrms of rr hicir
the obscrvcd ficts \\'ill latcr be intcrpretecl.The other involvt,s

t79
biologr i n p a rti c u l .rr:i t i s rv i d e l v b c l i cvcd that, i n thi s
rci ence,
tlrc only thcories rhat have led to fnrjtful appJicatiorrsand if one substitutcsfbr logic somecurrentlv more prestigioustem,
p<.rsi_
t ir . cadv a n r.t'isn k n o rv l e d g eh a v eb e e n mcchani sri c ;n stvl e.l ...l the essenceof the caserernainsunchanged.Inclcccl,cv<,nif tlreo_
In rhc rineteenth century, the mechanisttheorv, based ri t:seng t 'n<lt rone anot hcr <lialcceic. r llv,
t he n6r nr sol scient if ic
on the
g<ncralizationol a concrpt rvhoseb.rsicoutlirre x.asclcar theorl r r c not t hose of nr yt h. clr eamor f ajr l t ale. Evenif yir t u_
bv 1g50,
pnrduccrla rcrr.)actireellbct on the rva,!in which its origins al l v non e o1 t he pr inciplcsof a t hcor r r cm ain jnt act , t he t heor v
rvsye
c onc eiv e ri ,It s c c m c d o n l 1 ,l q g 1 q 1 1th a t a phenomi ,non c.rn b, c. r ll, . , llr ls, , , nlr in r . r m \ r , l a jr r , lgm cnrh. r r - , 1, , n r ho. e
u,hi ch,
along r v ith m a n y o l h e rs , p ro v i d e dj u s tifi cati on fi rr a pri nci plcsand t heir cons( . qucncc\'f. hus, t he elem ent sof a doc_
mechani cal
c x planat i o no f a n i ma l l i fc c o u l < lh a v ebcen di scoveretl trin< arc supposc<lto lit together in a rvar th.rt is not haph.rzarcl;
and stud_
ier l only b v a m c c h a n i 5 tb i o l o g i s t. tfth c l ogi c of.hi story i ts conc cpt s ar e sr r pposcrtlo conr bine in sont e $. lv t hat is not
thus
pointcrl trlvarrl o nrcchanist,thc history of phrsiologv m( r ,. j u \ I Jp, , \ iri, , n or . r ,L lir ion.
proli<le<l
a name - I)escartes.-fhjscoincidenceseemedto fbrec]ose \Ve ntust, acco1dingl1,, lrxrk in somc ncu.direction lbr concep_
funher
discussion,though no one knerv or cared to knou.rvhether tual l i l i at ions.R. r t her - t han askl. ho r hr auf lr orot . r t hcon. of . invol_
the
iogic confirmed rhc hisrorvor the historr inspired the untarvtnov( 'nt entt hr t pr eligur edt he ninet eent h- cent un.t heor v
logic. From
the incontcstable lact thar l)e\carrcs had proposecl ol thc reflex rvas.rvr.ask lvhat a thc6rr.6f muscular1n,rr,,rr-r.,na
a ntechani_
cal theorv rrf-involuntarr. movemcnr an(l cven provided al excel- ,ln<lrlr'rveaction must inc()rporatcin ordi,r firr a notion like ref.lt,x
lent description of certain instanccsof rvhat s,ould jater. mo\'(m( nt, involving as ir does a comparis.rnbetln.eena biologi_
in the
ninc t c ( . n thc c n tu rv Jb c c a l l c d ,.re fl e x e s,'i .t u.as ca) pJrenomenonand an oPtical one
dgduqed,1n5uy- {ref)ection), to makc sense
reptitious irnticipariono1-$.har$.asto come. that ljescartes (u hcrc "rnaking scnsr"'mcansthat th(, D()ti()n6l rcflcx
hacl nr.,"r.ntcnt
described,named and {brmulaterlthe concel)t of the must bc I ogicallvconsist cr )wit t h 5om ( , sctof conccpt s) .I f . acon_
rellex be-
c aus ct hc g e n e ra lth e o rl o l th e re l l e x vvasel aborated cept outlined or iomulllqd in srrcha contert is subsequentlv
i n order cap_
t o ex plain rh e c l a s so f p h e n o m (,n ath a t hc had cxpl ai nerl tur< ti br.. r r heor \ t hnt ust . sit in a r lif t lr cnt c( ) nr ext
i n hi s or wit h. l
o*' n las hi o n . di fl i ' rcnt m er ninq, it ( locsnot lir llo*, t hlt t hc conccpt
as ur ed in
L\4,v
own vierl is that, in the historr,of scicnce, )ogic pcr se the ori!]iDaltbt'orv is nothing but a nrcaninglcss
rvorrl.Somc con,
ought to takc preccdcncc over the logic of historr-. cept\i srrchas the reflection and rcfiaction of.light,
B"f*" lu" are tlreoreti-
relnte theories in terms o1 logical content an<l origin, rve cal l v poi r valt 'nt ,r hat is, capableoi being incor por at ed
must inr o bor h
ask hor1'contenrpordricsintcrpretc(l the concepts ofrvhich l).lrticlctheorr antl rrare theorl..Furthcrmole,the iict that a con-
those
th(\)rics i{ere conrposed- lirr ifrve do not inrist on internai con_ ctrpt pl al s a st r ong r olc in a cer t ain
t heor et icaldont ajn is bv no
sjstcnc\'.\\'c risk falling into rhc parador rhar logjc is mr' ,t| r\\ f li( i, n1t 1nLln1l.t or lr r ir ing r cs( , ll. i
ubiquitous lt inlo r lt e or igin. , , l
except in scicntjfic thought. There n-ravbe a logic, more.)ver,in that conc ept io sir nilar lv( . onsr it ur ed
dom ains.
t h( s uc c c s s i o no fd o c tri n e s i n th e ms e l .r,es R r adhcr ingt o t hcscm e( hodologic. r l
i l l ogi cal . E vcn i fone . pr <r <. eptIs,canl( , nl) tt o
hol<lsthat thc principic of noncontr.rclictionir ob;olctc, alrl even rl i scoverThonr asWillis -
I ; r s( ) m oninr . t cent h- cenr un, physioJo
gi \ts a\\' ar eof t hc hist or v of t hc r cf lcx
conc( , pt6. r d n- , "n, ; , r n", l
l8 o
his nanr e- b u t to c o n fi rm h i s l e g i ti matc ri ght to a ti tl e that had rht' y are inser t ed. r rNlor phologicalJv,
t his t t 'lls r : s lit t lt ', but t hat
previouslybeen opcn to doubt or challcnge.lFormotiondu r,lflexe, little sufficcsfor Descartes's physiologvofmorerneDt. Everynene

P P . l- 6l is a bundle offibers containedrvithin a tube, a marro\1con\isting


of fine thrcads extending from the cerebral marro\\ an(l rather
Rend Dcscartes Did Not Formulote the Reflex Concept looscly sheatheclin an artervlike tubular skin.l2 One rnight sav,
[ 65] W he n D e s c a rtc sp ro p o s e dh i s g e neral thcorv ofi nvol un- borrorving an image fiom moclern technologv, that l)escartcs
tary movemcnt,he, like many others befbrc him, associatedsuch envi si onedt he ner ve as a sor t of elect r ical cable r un t hr ough
movemrnts with phenomcna that we todav refer to as reflexes. a conduit . As a bundle of llir es, t he ner ve ser ved. r sJ sensor y
Does it lbllou, then, that he belongsamong the naturalistsand organ,l l r lhile as a conduit it ser veclas a m ot or or gan. ll'[ 'hus
phvsiciansrvho helped to dclineare and dcfine the conceptof Descartcs,unlike Galenand his lollowers,did not <listinguishst'n-
rcflex? l he anslvcr to this historical and epistemologicalques- s()rvnervesfrom motor nerves.Evervnerve was both serlsoryin(l
t ion m u5 t, I th i n k . b e d e fe rre c lu n ti l detai l ed,cri ti cal study of motor, but bv vir t ue of dillir ent aspcct soI it s st r uct ur c. r ndlr v
the Cartesian.rnatomy and physiologvofthe nerveand muscleena- rl av of d if llr ent m echanism s. r The
t cent r ipr t al scnsor yc\ cir . r -
bles us to rlecidervhethcror not Descartcscould havcanticipated, ri on $.a snot som et hing t hat pr opagat eclalong t he ner ve l) ut ,
horvcvcrconlusedlr',rhe essentialelementsofthe concept. r.rthcr,.1nim m ediat eand int egr al t r act ion of t he ner vouslil) er .
Dcscartes.of course. lrelievcdthat aJlphysiologicalfi_rnctions j t nst cs,t hc sr . r r f r ce
\l hcn thc. r nim al sccs,f ccls. t ou<hcs,hcar , or
c ould be e x p l .ri n e di n p u rc l l me c h a n i calterms. H encc, he saw ol i ts bo dr shakest he hr ain bv ur v ol t ht ' ner , , elibcr '. l he ct : n-
onlr a linri te d n u m b e r o l p o s s i b l ei n tc r acti onsanroD gan organ- tri fugal nr ot or r eact ion, on t he ot hel hand, is a pr op, r gat ion,a
is nr ' spar t s :c o n ta c t! i mp u l s e , p re s s u rea nd tracti on. The i mpor- tran\port . The spir it s f lor v out t hr or r gh t he por esol t he br ain,
t.rnceol t]ris lict cannot be overemphasized.Dcscartes'srvhole optned u p in r esponset o t he pulling on t he libcr s. r nr l int o t hc
conception of animal movement deriveslrom this principle to- empt) spacebet ueen t hc f lbcr s and t hc conduit t hr ough uhich
gt ' t hc r uit h rv h a t h e c o n s i d c re da s u fll ci cnt set ofanatomi cal tht:y run . I f pr esser l,t hcv pr css;if pushed,t hev push, llence t lr e
observations.lFormationdu rit'lexe,p, 3Ol muscl esr vells,t hat is, cont r act s. 16 lnvolunt ar vm ovem entis t hus
l66l ID Article l0 ol The Possions ofdc Sou./,Dcscartesclaims difli'rent from action in all of its elements and ph.rses,lFornra-
t hat t he a n i ma l s p i ri ts , b o rn i n th e h e art20and i ni ti al l y carri ed tion tlu rillexc, pp. 3+-l5 ]
by t he blo o d , b u i l d u p i n th e b ra i n a s pressurebui l ds i n an ai r [67] Basical$ the concept of rcflcx consistsof more than just
chamber. Whcn releasedbv thc brain, thesespirits are transmit- a rucl i m ent ar vm echanicalcxplanat ionof m uscularm ovenent . I t
t c d t hr oug h th e n e rv e sto th e m u s c l e s(other than the heart), al socont ainst he icleat hat som ekinr l of st im ulusst em m ingliom
'w'herethcv determine the animal's movements. Descartessays the peripher vof t he or ganismis t r ansm it t edt o t he cent er and
t hat m us c l e sl re b a l l o o n sfi l l e d w i th s p i ri ts,rvhi ch,asa rcsul t of thcn rcf lect cd back t o t he per iphcr v.What dist inguishesr ellex
their transvers.rl
expansion,contract longitudinally,thus moving moti on is t hc f act t hat it <loesnot pr occcd dir ect lv liom . r cen-
thc articulatedlronestructurcsor organssuch asthc cye in $'hich ter or central repositorvol immatcrialporverof an.r'kind. fhetein

r8 2 r f'J
lies , u it h i n th e g rn u s " m o \e D re n t," thc spcci fi c di fferencebe- rhc heart r et aineclit s heat , anr l t r aceslr f blor r t l r et r ainit lg in it
t \ \ ' c c n inv o l L l n t.rrva n tl ro l trn ta rr,.N o u , accordi ngto C .l rtesi an uut f ol t hosc *ho held
coul (l vap or ir er nd c. r uscit t o er par r r J. lN
t hc or y , m o v e m e n r th a t n r.rn i fe s tsi ts e lI at thc peri pherv,i n the that thc h ear t was a r nusclc. it bec. r m cdif f ic( r lt t o. r r g( r ct hat t he
musclesor visc('ra,ofigiutrs in.r ccntcr, thc center ol all organic brain was the cssentialcentr.ll controller ol .rll crrganm()vcmcnts.
centers, namcl\', the c.rrdi.rcvessel.This is a material center of l-hus, it becamenecessarvto look to pl.rccrother than thc brain,
action, to bc surc, not a spiritualone. The Cartesianthcorv is thus i 1 not l or t he causet hen at lcast lir r lact or s go! er ning cer t ain
c c r t ainlr m e c h a n i c a l ,b u r i t i 5 n o t th e t heorv of the refl ex. The rnovements.lFormationdu rillctc, p.5)l
vcrv image that suggestedthc u'ord "rcflex," that of a light ray's
rellection bv a mirror, rcquires homogeneity betlveen the inci- Thomos Willis DeservesCredit for the Reflex Concept
clentmovement and thc rcllcctecl movement. In Descartes's
the- [69] W hat dist inguishedWillis f iom [ ) escar t es\ \ 'er e his con-
ory, though, thc opposite is tlue: the excitation of the sensesand ccpti ons of t he m ot ion of t he hcar t an( l t he cir culat ion of t he
t hc c ont ra c ti o no f th e mu s c l e sn rc n o t at al l si mi l ar movements blood, rvhich hc took *'holesalc fiom \\iilliam Ilarvev; namelv,
'rvith respectto either thc nnturc ol the thing moved or thc mode l ri s conce pt ionsol t he nat ur c of anim al spir it s and t heir m ov( -
ol motion. What docs pulling on.r [rel]cord havein common with' ment through t he ner ves;of t hc st r uct ur eol ner 'es; anclof m us-
blorving .rir into the pi1>eof arr org.rni Both arc mcchanicalphe- ru l ar con t r act lon.
nomcna. fF.)rDtdtiDn tlu iJlttc. p.11) ;\ccor ding t o Willis ( and Har vcr ') ,t hc hear t is a nr uscleind
[ 68] To s u m trp , rv h i l c i t i s tru e th.rt D cscartes' snork con- r t he ot her t nusclcs,it
D ()thi D gr) r or c.I f ir is t hc pr im um m ovcl-ol
t ains t lr c th to rt ri c ,rl t< l u i rrl e n t o l c e r tai n ni netecnth-ccnturv i s srronl v bv vir t ue ol t he r hvt hm of it s lut r cli<r n;it s st r r . t ct r . t is
rc
attcmpts to lbrnrullte.r generalreflcxolog),r-igorousexamination i rk.nti cal."lt is not a noble of g. r n, f ir st in t he hicr ar chy,but a
t ur ns up n c i th c r th r' tc rm n o r th e c o n c ept ofrefl ex, Thc dorvn- mere muscle."l')Thc onlv possiblcc.ruscof the circulatorv move-
fill ofCartcsianphvsiologr',on( cannot overemphasize, lay in the mcnt of t he blood u, ast he act ion of t he spir it s on t hc hear t , as
explanationof the movenrcntsof rhc hcart. I)escartesliiled to see on anv ot her m usclc:t hat act ion nr adcr he hear t int o a hvdr aulic
W illiam H a rre l ' s th e o r' \'.r\ a n i n d i v i s i b l c u hol e. To be sure,he machi ne. l0Willis dist inguishcdbet r r '. en t hr cir culat ior rof t he
rvasrT'cllarlarc that thc cxplanationofthe he.rrt'sl-novcments was, blood, a mechanicalphenomenon,an(l it5 fcrmentation,a chemi-
centur-\'tthe kev to the problem ol'movement
fbr thc scvcr-rtccnth cal onc. Fermentationhcatcd thc bloorl, u hich then impartcd its
gencrallr'.lt-fhisrvoulclcontinue to bc thc cascin the eighteenth heat to the hear t* not vice ver sa, JlI n Willis's m ind, t his clist inc-
centurv. One f)ct turncd out to be crucinl in the Baconiansense ti on r,r' as
shar p:cir culat ioncxist sin al] anim als,r vher easf cr m en-
for anv theon purportingto crl>lainthe neuromtrscular causesand tati on, he believed,is lbund onh in t he highcr anim als. r rWillis
r t ' gulat io n so f m. e mc n t - i rJ D )e l \'L, he movcmcnt of exci sed descrvcscr edit llr st of all lbr nor f ecling obliged, as Dcscar t es
or gans ,c s p c c i ,rl l \th e h e a rt, l l th t' l > r' ai ndi d not causesP i ri tsto di<1,to correct Ilarvcv on.r fundamentallx)iDt ol'cardiacanatomy
llou into thesc organs,rrh.rt c.rusedth('D)to contract?Dcscartes and phvsiologv,as u'cll as lirr not granting the heart a privilcged
from thc body'
did not ha v cto c o n l i o n t th i s rl te s ti o rt,R cntovecl l ol e and p r cem inentnnt nr ein com pnr isoDt o, r t her m r r sclcs.I r or

In .1 rfit
Willis as lor Haney, thc hcart uas simplv a hollow muscle.
nuscular cxplosion causedthe musclc to contract and thus Pro-
As fbr the animal spirits, Willis looked upon them asdistilled, rluccd movement.rt lFormotiondu rdJlexe,
pp.60-63]
purificd, sublimated, spiritualized blood. All fbur terms, listed What distinguishesWillis fiom Dcscartes,horvever,is
f70]
in ordcr ofincreasingdignity, are fbund in his rvriting. The brain nor simply his greaterfidclitv to Hanev'sphvsiologvor his notjon,
and cercbellum functioned as stills to separatethe animal spirits
more chem ical t han m echanical,of t hc anim al spir it s. Unlike
fiom the blood, a separationthat occurred now-hereelsc in the l)cscartes,Willis does not assumethat thc structureol the nerves
body.ll Functionally, the spirits florved along nervcs and flbers them to play dif'ferentroles in thc scnroryanclmotor func-
allor,vs
from the brain to thc periphery - membranes,muscles,paren-
tions. Thc nerves,he argues,havc a single structure, fibrous and
chyma - and fiom the pcriphervback to the brain. On the u,hole,
porous.Thcv are neither conduits enclosingthin strandsnor solid
horvevcr,ifthc flow olblood rvasa circulation, the flow ofani- rods. Thcy contain gaps,cmptl spacesinto w hich animal spirits
mal spirits\r'asmore in the natureofan irrigation:emanatinglrorn may entcr. 'fhey are prolongedby libcrs, rvhich are not their onlv
the brain, thev w-ercdispersedat the peripherv. In this respect,
capi l l ar r ext cnsions;som e of t heseor iginat c out si( le,and inde-
therc rvas no differcnce between Willis and Descartes.Willis,
pendcnt of, the nervcs,through epigenesis.Just asanimal spirits
horvever,distinguishedbetrvccn the causeof the blood's circula- flou through,or residein, the ner',es,so too do thcy florv through,
t ion and t h a t o f th e fl o u ' o fa n i ma l s p i r i ts,and he acknou,l edged or residc in, the flbers. Thel mav flou in cithcr direction, ancl
that the spiritsflorvedthrough thc nervein both directions.Above in uavelike motions. Thev florv llrst one \r'a\',then the othcr, in
all, he sau,the animalspiritsquite differentlyfiom Descartes. pathsradiat ingf iom a ccnt cr , t he br ain. 16
[...]
According to Willis, the animal spirit rvasa potcntiality in Thcse anatomicaland physiologicalconccpts \1'crenecessarv
necd of actualization,Ir u,asfull ofsurprises. 1'hough it seemed conrlitions for Willis to do u'hat Descartcsu,asprccluded from
t o be m ere l v a ra y o f l i g h t, i t c o u l d b e expl osi ve,and w hcn i t doing as regardsthe problcm rvc are acldressing. Though neccs-
cxplodcd its eflects rvcremagnified in accordanceu,ith rules that sarv,however ,t hev $er e not yet suf f icicnt . Willis's or iginalit v is
rr.ercnot those of either arithmetic or geometry.ll Descartcsheld more ap par entin t he por ver sof im aginat iont hat causedhim t o
that the spirits u,erccxpelled from the heart and sped torvardthe pursuethe ultimatc consequences
of the explanatorvcomparisons
m us c lesin th e m a n n e r o f a c u rre n t o f ai r or stream of w ater, ht'cmplovecl. Becauselre conceivedol thc anatomicalstructurc
rvhereasWillis arguedthat they u'ere propagaredfrom the brain of the ncrvous systcm as radiant rathcr than ramified, $,ith the
to the muscle in much the samc u,ayasheat or light. Slowedand brai n emit t ing ncnes as t hc sun cm it s r avs,Willis t hought of t he
transportedby a Iiquid juicc filling thc intersricesof the nervous propag.rtionofspirits in terms of radiation.ll Norv, thc cssenceol
structure, the spirits, upon reachingthe peripheral organs,drew thc ani malspir it it self could not be explainedent ir elyin t er m sof
encrgy and heightcncd motor potential from the arterial blood anv knorvn chemical substancc.Sincc it originatedin the "flamc"
bathing them. This energv camc liom thc addition of nitrosul- ol thc bloocl, it rvascomparablc to a rav ol light.ls I'his analogv
Iurousparticlesto thcir o$ n salt spirits, igniting the mixture and is pursueclto thc cndi thc ncrvousdischarge\\'asinstantancous,
setting offan cxplosion, asofgunporvder in a cannon.This intra- j ust l i ke t hc t r ansm issionof light . Evcn t hc f inal st ageof t r ans-

r 86 t87
m is s ion,t hc ex c i ta ri o no f th e m u s c l eb v th e n erve,srrpportedthe ofan i denti fi cat ionor classif icat ion in t he br m
and subseguent lv
comparison.Just as light corpusclesproclucedlight onlv if thev of empirical
of a principle intcrpretation. lFormationdu ille:.e,
enc ount er ede th c rc a l p a rti c l e sd i s s e mi n a te di n the ai r, thc ani -
P P . 6 U-5 9 1
mal spirits rcleasetlthe pou.erin them onlv ifthc! nrqt sulfurous
or nir r ous par ti c l c sd i s s e m i n a te di n th e i n t ersti ti al bl ood. The The Logical ond Experintentol Consequences
rcsulting sp,rsmrxlicintranruscularcxplosion causcdthc nruscle ' l homasWillis asst r nr ed
t h. r tall m uscularm ot ir ) nsar e cnused
172]
r ( ) c ont r ac t .T h u s , th e a n i rra ls p i ri t u a s l i g h r onl r unti l i t l )rcame l n a centri fi rgalllur of alim al spir it sf iom t he br ain, but hc r lis-
fire. Its transportrvasanalogousto illunlination, *,hercarits ct-fect tinguishedbcrrvccnrrrluntarvmotionsgovernc(lhv the cetcbrum,
\ \ ' asin. t logousto .rn e x p l o s i v ed e to n a ti o n .In thi s phrsi ol ogythe suchas l ocomo t ion.and t r at ur alor involunt ar vnr ot ionl q( ivcr nc( l
nervesarc not stfings.rr conduits but fuses(Junit ignarius).t9fFor- bv the cercbcllum anrl rnt.dullaoblongata,such asrespiration.rncl
nation <luriJlexc,pp.65-56] l rcartbcat.l l en ce, he alsodist inguishedbet r "eennvo souls- onc
[71] \\rc knou that rve have encountercd a conccpt bccause sensi ti veand re asonablc,f ir und in m an alone,t hc ( ) t hcr s(nsit ive
lc hav c hit up o n i rs d e l i n i ti o n - a d c fi n i ti on at oD cc nomi nal and vi tal , l bun d in bot h nr ananclanim als. +l
and rca]. The tcrm ,rotu.trcJlexusis applicd to a certlin classof In rnan both souls \\'ere situateclrvithin the striated lrodics,
m ov em ent s ,ol n h i c h a fa m i l i a r e x a mp l e i s provi ded: rhe auto- tontntuneof thc rcasonablesoul. I his rr.as
tlrr: seatofthc sensorium
m at ic r eac t io n o l s c ra tc h i n g .In a d d i ti o n r o rhe obi ecr bei ng the stagcat n h ich a cliscr ininat ionuls m ade bet r lr cn t hosc scn'
def lned. t r e hr re a d e fi n i n g p ro p o s i ti o n , rv hi ch fi rr:s i ts mt-an- sorr inrpressionsthat \v('rc rr'llt'cteclinto m()tion\ \\ ithr)ut rel:
ing. \\t have .r rvor'dthat establishesthc a<lcquacvoI thc defin- ( r(' nceto consciousr lcss
an<lt hc, seexplicit lv pcr ccivcd. r ssuchbr
ing proposititrn to th( objcct defined (sci.lircr).The definition
the soul .[...]
itself requiresfbrv rvorcll:it is not a firll-blou.ntheon bLrta pr6cis,
It shoul d c om r ns no sur pr isc, t hcr cf ir le, t h. r t Jc. r nAt f r uc
It is a definition th.rt rvorksbv division, fbr it is asrociatcdrvith (1684-1766)o f M ont pelliel locat cdt hc seatol com m on scnscin
t he pr ior dc f in i ti o n o f d i re c t mo v e tre n t, th e tuo togethercov-
tl re u hi te mat t er of t hc br ain. I his localizat ioncnabledAst r uc
cring the entire rangt'of possiblccausesof movement. Civen the t() proposean cxplanat ionof svm pat het ic phcnom enat hJt con-
clcarlv statedprincipJe(guoadm otusotigincm seuprin.ipium), the taincd, fbr the flrst timc sincc Willis, the notion of reller nrotion
div is ion is ex h a u s ti | c :c v c ry m o v e me n t o ri g i natesei ther at the (,7n s_t
mp.tthid pdrtitm d L.rlo D.rvorumpositurdin intcrno \rntorio?,
c c nt er or at t h e p e ri p h c rv .T h i s b i o l o g i c a ld el i ni ti on rcl i es on a 1736). tl orv \1 asit t hit . r st ir r ulus or injur v t o onc pnr t ( ) l an
phls ic alanr i, in d e c d ,a g e o m e tri co n e - In \u m. w c fl nd i n \\ri l l i s
otqani snrgal e r ise t o a r c. r ct ionin anot hcr pir t : 'Asr r u( r cject cd
t hc t hing, t hc r to rd a n d th e n .,ti o n .' l ' h e th i n {, i n the form crfan
l he cxpl anati on,conlnr on. lt t h( t inr c, t hat cer t . r int ibcr sol cor n-
or iginal obs er v a ti o na, c u ta n e o u sre fl e x o f th r' ccrcbrospi nalsvs-
munication connectedthe nelves.He arguedthat .rll nerlc fitrers
tem, the scratch reflex; the rvord, rcflcx, lvhich hls improperly
arc separateanclindept 'ndentf iom t he br ain t o t hc pcr ipher vof
entercd the languageboth as an adjcctivc and a noun;1(landthe
thc organi snr .Ast r uc cr plaincd svm pat hct ic r cilct ion in t er m s
not ior r ,t hat is , th e p o s s i b i l i tvo fa j u d g me n t,i ni ti al l v i n the form
ol a phl si cal r cllect ion of im pr essionst hat he lr cliclcr l t ook

rlJll
r 89
place in thc medulla, When animal spirits, stirred bv some stim- soul - fbr there is onlv one - insofar as it esche$,scalculation
uJus,rverc carricd to the brain by the nervc, they encountered and reasoningand conf incs it sclf t o im m ediat e, hcnce uncon-
fibcrs in thc tcxturc of the meclulla, so that, "being reflected scious,sensibilitv.Phvsiologicallv,this rneansthat musclescon-
r v it h an a n g l c o f rc fl c c ti o n e q u a l to thc angl e of i nci dencc," tract onlv if innervatcdand scnsoriallvstimulated, which mcans
thqy might enter thc orifice of a motor ncrve siruated at that that they must be connected to the seat of the soul. Of course
l
pr c c is cI oc a ti o n .[...] Whytt vvasnot unmindful ofthe argumentsthat Haller, rvith the
Like Astruc, Robert Whytt of Edinburgh rejected the expla- aid ofhis theories,drerv from the observationofmuscularmotions
nation of svmpathiesin tcrms of extracerebralcommunication in decapitatedanimalsand scparatcdorgans.This led him to sus-
bctwccn nerves, vet he could not accept Astruc's mechanistic pect thc r ole o[ t he spinalcolum n as a sensor ycauseof m ot ion,
ideas ,nor c o trl d h e e n v i s i o n ,a s Il a l l e r d i d, a muscul ari rri tabi l - " becauset he spinal colum n does not appcar t o bc exclusivelv
ity distinct from sensibility.ile u'astherelbre fbrced to propose an cxtension of thc brain and cercbellum. It is probable that it
a truly novel conception of the functions of the spinal cord. In preparesa nervous fluid of its ou,n, and this is the reasonrvhv
his Essa.yon the Vitdl and Other Involuntary llotions of Animals vital and other movementspersistlirr severalmonths in a tortoisc
(1751),Whf,tt attemptcd to prove bv observationand experiment rr.hoscheadhasbeen severed."[...]
that all motions are causedby the soul, in responscsometimes Johann August Unzer (1127-17991wascritical of Whytt on the
to an explicit perception, sometimesto a confusedscnsationof groundsthat nervoussensationis distinct from sensibilitv pcr sc
a stimulus applied to the organism.The central idea of his the- .rndthat movementin living thingsis not necessarily
causedbv the
orv of involuntary motion is that every involuntarv motion hasa soul, cvcn if it cannot be explainedin terms of a mechanicalphe-
manifestpurposc,namell, to eliminate the causesof disagreeable nomenon.Thc animalorganismis indeeda svstemofmachines,but
impressions.For example, u.hen thc pupil of the e,vecontracts those machinesare natural or organic, that is, they are machines
in r es pon s eto l i g h t, i t i s n o t th e e f]e c t o f a di rect acti on ofthe cvenin theirverv tiniest parts,asLeibniz had cxplaincd.An animal-
Iight on the iris but rather ofan importunate bedazzlementtrans- machinenced not havca brain and a soul. It doesnot follow lrom
mitted to the retina and the optic nen'e. "The gcncral and wise this that the ncrvous fbrce in a brainlessorganism is merelv a
intention of all involuntarv motions is the removalof everything nrcchanicalaction. l he ncrvous fbrcc is a fbrcc ofcoordination
that irritatcs, disturbsor hurts the bodv." It is this vital senseof and subordinationoforganic machines.For this firnction to oper-
all m ot ion s (rl ' h i c h W h y tt d o e s n o t h c s i tate to compare to an ate, i t i s e nough f br ganglia,plcxi or junct ions of ot her sor t s t o
immediate, prclogicalmoral scnsc)that precludesunderstanding make it possiblefor a nervousimpressionliom an externalsource
them in tcrms of purelv mcchanical causes.Whytt nevertheless to bc refl ect edin t he f or m of an int er nallyor iginat edexcit at ion
deniest ha t h e i s a " S ta h l i a n ,"o n e o f th o se " w ho hol d that one destined fbr one organ or another. l'hc movementsof thc brain-
cannot explainthcsemotions in terms of the soul $ ithout accept- l esspol vp , f br inst ance,can bc cxplaincdin t his wav.The expla-
ing the u,holc of the Stahlianvicw." The "sensitiveprinciple" is nation also explainsmovcmcnt in a clecapitatcdvcrtcbrate."Such
not the "rational and calculating" soul. (lr, rathcr, it is the same a nenous act ion,due t o. r n int er nalscnscim pr ession,not accom -
panicd hv a rcpresentation,stemming ti.om thc rcflection of an W h\tt, rather , he ar gucd t hat m edLr llar rr t f lect icr n of ncr \ 1) t r s
cxtcrnal scnseimpression,is what takcsplace,lbr example,when impressions\\'asgoverncdbv a biological larv of the co[servation
a dec apit at e dfro g j u m p s i n re s p o n s eto a pi nch of i ts di gi t." 12 of living things. l'he cxamplcscitcrl bv Prochaskawerc thc same
llnzcr's originality shr.'uldnou be apparcnt: he relirrcd to iden- ones that L)e scar r esr nd Ast r uc had descr ibcd:occlt t sionol t he
r ilv . lnt im c c h a n i s mu i rl r a n i mi s m,l n d h e decentral i zedthe phe- evel i dsand snee/ ing. Pr ochaskat leI ined t hc r elat ion ol r t 'f lex
nom enon of re fl e c ti o n o I s ti mu l i , \4 ,h i c hW i l l i s and A struc had moti on to co nsciousness bet t er t han anYof his pr cdecessor s: he
bec n ab] c t o c o n c c i v co D l y i n te rms o f a c erebralseat. cxplicitlv distingrrishcdthe aspecto{ obligatoryautomatismfrom
Ccorge Prochaska,prolissor of anaromvand ophthalmologv thc aspectofo pt ional, int er m it t cnt u nconsciou\ ncss,and he sup-
at Prague.rndVicnna.r11rulcl
succeedin combininll Wh\ tt's obser- ported thi s clist inct ionr . r it hat {t r t t r cnt sf iom conr par at ivcanat -
vations on rlre functions crfthe spinal cord u.ith Unzer's hvpoth- omy. As one ascendstiom louel to higheranimals.a brain is ad'lecl
csesabout cxtcnding the refler function outsidc the brain. In De to the rn.roriumcommuncln man, soul and bodv havebcen jointtl
lunctionibtr y,stematisncnosi commentoth(178,+),Prochaskaargued bv C od. N ever t heless.t hc soul "pt o<lucusabsolut clyno act i( ) n
that the 1>hlsiologv
ol thc n<n ous slst<,nrharlconfined itsclf too that depcndst 'holh and uniquely or r it All ir s act i( ) nsar e Pr o-
"
narro*lv ro thc brain, ignored comp.rrativeanatoln\',and there- rl ucctl , rathcr , t hr ough t he inst r r . t m cntof t hc ner r ot t ssvst ent
fbrc, until Unz:r, l)iled to recognizcthat thc r,lsreriord, or ner- 'fhus Prochaskaend5whcre l)escartcsbegan:in the caseol invol-
v ous lor c e (n o mo rc ta l k o f a n i ma l s p i ri ts), requi red onl v one untarr moti ons, t hc soul uscsan apPar at us t hat cln alsof unct ion
thing: an intact connrction ol the nerle fiber to the scnsorium com- rr i thout i ts co oper at ionnnd pt r m ission.But r hc r t lat om r r pllvsio-
m une,r t is r in c tl i o m th e b ra i n , E v e nrv i th o ut a connecti onto the logic.rl((,ntcxt of thir asscrtionis (luitc diflll-ent' since l'roch'rska
brain, a scnsoryncnc can link up, through the.rensonum commune, concei vesof the ner voussvst cmnot "in gcner al'''like l) escar t er ,
t o a m ot or n e rv e i n s e rte d i n to m u s c l e , a nd thus transfbrm an but as an incrtasinglv comPlic.ltedhierarchical serics,ot rvhich
im pr es s ioni n to a mr)\' e r)re n r. E v e n i l P ro chaskadi d nor defi ni - the hunranbrain is the highcst rJcvelopmcntthorrghnot thc ch'rr-
tivelv rejecr th(.opinion that the spinalcorclis a bundle of nenes. .rcteri\tic tvpe. ["Phvsiologit .rninralc"' Hrtoirt llinirale. vctl 2'
he m.rclethe rarlicalasscrrionthat it, rogether l'ith the medulla pp.6l l-161
oblongata, is the seat of thc sensoriuncommunc,the necessary usc( lt he not ion of a
173] In th c eight eent hccnt ur - v,Ast r uc
and s ullic ic n t c o n < l i ti o n,rl th e n e rv efu n c t i on.In di vi di ng,more- refl ccti on of t hc ncr vou5 inf lux, l>ascdon t hc phvsicallar v of
orer, one dividcrl thc ncnous lbrce rlirhout abo)ishingit, therebl, rel l ecti on ol light , ir r . t m c( haDist i( t hcor | of sr r t Pat hiest hr t
c x plaining t h c p c rs i s re n c co f c x c i ta b i l i tv and movemcnt i n the assunrcrlthe br ain r o bc t hc uniqt t e cent cr of le[ lect ion \ \ 'hvt
liog uhose mrrlulla harl bcen sectioned.It wasat thc levelofthc descti bcrl the r ef lcx phcnom cn( ) n\ \ 'it hout using t he r vor clor
m edulla, P r o c h a s k aa rg u c rl ,th a t i n rp re s s i onuas rcl l ected i nto noti r)D .but t hc lau s govcr ningt hat phenom cnon\ ! - er eassum cd
r ) r ov c m c nt .t l D l i k c A \trL r(. Pro c h a s k a(l i d not bel i t' ve that thi s n()t t() bf pur elv Pl) \ 'sical,r luc t o t h, . 'connect ion bct wcet ) t hc
rcflcction \\.asa purell, phrsical phcnomcnon governeclby a larv rellcr leaction an<lthe instinct <ll sellprcscrrirtion.\Vhvtr at'11rte<l
s im il. r r t o t h e l a v v o l o p ti c a l re fl e c ti o n ; i n thc samc spi ri t as that thc rel at ion bet r veent he s, . nsor vand nlot or f inct ions \ \ Js

r 9l
'9 t
not c ent r aliz e db u t d i l l u s e a n d n o t mc c h a ni calbut psvchi c,and Corrections
he thercfbre saw no reison to ascribeit to any specific anatorni- 74 l aki ng rhir Jclinit ion as, , ur \ lar ling point . r r e cr n \ ee Pr e-
cal structure. Unzer alsobclievedthat the l.rw governingthe phe- ciselvrvhatelementsstood in need ol correction. One of the best
nonlenon rvasnot strictlv mechanical,but he svstematicallyust'd rcl'crcnccterts is JohannesMtillet's Handbuchder Phrsiolollie des
the ternr and the notion of reflection in r decentralizcdtheorv rvherethc illustriousGcrman phvsiologi5tcomPareshis
.Ilcnschcn,
of t he s ens o ri mo to rre l a ti o n s h i p ,$ h i c h h e ascri bedto a num- ideason rcllex movement rvith thosc of Marshall I lall.{4 Miille r
bcr of anatomical structurcs (the nervousganglia and plexus as makcsi t cl ear t hat in 1813,'r hen bot h Hall's paperand t he f ir st
rvell as thc brain). Prochaska,finally, retained both the rvord cdition of the Handbuchwcrc publishcd, thc rcflcx conccpt was
and the notion of reflection but treated its physicalmechanism a principle ofexplanation, a thcoretical instrument tor interprct-
as suborclinateto the organic entitv's senst'crf self-preservation, ing phcnomenadefined as"movententsfollor"'ingsens.rtions." The
<lcccntr.r
lizeclthe rcflex function bv locating its explicit anatonri- thcoreti calcont cnt o[ t his conccpt consist cclof lu'o elem ent t .
cil support in the rnedulla oblongata and spinal cord (and also, onc positire, the other negati\'('incgativelY,thc corccPt rcjccted
pr obably , in t h e s y mp a th e ti cg a n g l i a ),a n d w as apparentl ythe thc theon ol anastomoses betrT'eensensorvand motor fibers;posi-
first to note that not all automatic reactions$'ere unconscious. tivelv, the concept rcquircd a ccntral interme(liarr between the
Legalloisthen \r,enton to provc something that Prochaskanever scnsorvimpressionand the dctcrmination of thc motor reaction.
did, namtly, that thc spin.rlcolumn does not havethe structureof It rvasfbr th! expresspurpose ol denoting the true ltrnction of
a nenc. \\rithout using the term reflex or thc notion, hc located the mc<lua spintlis,or spinal nrcdulla (rathcr than spinal cord ).
thr.'reflex function in the medulla, n hosc metameric division he that N l arsh.r llllall coined t bc t er m "diast alt ic" t o indicat e t hat
c s t ablis hc dex p e ri m e n t.rl l y . the medullr could providc a linctional connection [.letrveensen-
T hus , bv 1 8 0 0 th e d e fi n i ti o n o f th e ref' l exconcept w as i n sory and motor nervesonly if situatedbetrveenthem asan authcn-
place,a definition ideal when considercdas a rvhole but histori- ti c anatomi calst r uct ur e r list inct lr om t he br ain. The cliast alt ic
cal in each o[its parts. It c.rnbe summarizeclas follorvs(with the (rel)ex) function of the spinal nrcdulladeterinined its relation to
namesof thc authors u'ho first formulated or incorporated cer- the esodi c.o r anast alt ic,[ unct ion of r he lcnsor v ner veand t he
tain basic notions iDdicatcdin parentheses):a reflex movemeDt cxo(l i c,or ca t ast alt ic,f unct ior rol't he m ot or nene.
(\\'il)is) is one \1hoseinrmediatecauseis an anrccedentsensation On this fundamentalpoint ,\lLillerand Hall agrcr:d.In Mtiller's
(Willis), the effect of t'hich is detcrminedbv phvsicalla*-s(Willis, words, "thr phenomcna I have described thus far on the basis
A s t r uc , Unz e r, Pro c h a s k a -) i n c o n j u n c ti o n w i th thc i nsti ncts first of my o*,n observationsand thcn thosc of lr'larshallHall's
(Whytt, Prochaska)- bv rcflection (Willis, ,\struc, Unzer, Pro- have one thi ng in com m on, nam elv,t hat t he spinal r nedullais
chaska)in rhe spinalcortl lWhvtt, Prochask.r,Legallois),u'ith or the i ntermed iar vbct r veent he st 'nsor vand t he m ot r r r . lct ion of
nithout concomitant c()nsciousness (Prochaska).{llFormationdu thc nervousp r inciple. " Beal in nr ind t hat t he t \ \ 'o phvsiologist s'
re//r'rc,pp. 130-311 agrecmcntabout t he specif iccent r al lunct ion oi t hc spinalcor d
uas the result of tlventv ycarsof researchand controversvcon-

r 94 r 9t
c er ningt he v a l i d i ty .rn di n te rp re ta ti o no ft he B el l -N l agenclliarv
c onc ought t o consider t hc cent r ipet al ( anast alt ic)im pr cssion
( 1811- 22). rvithout relerencc to the brain or to consciousDcss, and that the
[...1
Thc t3ell-Magendie lau' rvasa necessaryingrcdicnt fbr the for- conccptsof sensationand cvcn sensiti!itv ought not to enter into
mulation of the reflcx concept, insofar as that concept incJudes the conccpt of a reflcx. l he reflex function dicl not evcn dcPend
t hc s pec if ic l h n c ti o n o f th e s p i n a l c o rc l . W hat l l al l cal l ed the on scnsorvor motor nen'esbut, rather,on sPccificnervousfibcrs
diastaltic (or cliacentric)function rvasconccivablc onh in con- that Hall called"cxcitorrtotor" an(l"rellecto-motor" llbers. Ilall's
junction rvith t\l.o mutually indepenclentproperticsof thc nen'e. l8I I RovalSocictvPaPeron "Thc Rellex Function of the N'ledulla
Onlv if thosc two propertiesexisteduas a nenous center rcqtrired Oblong.rtaand the N'tedullaSpinalis"exPlicitlYdistinguishesreflcx
t o div c r t t h c n c rv o u s i mp u l s e to a n e u , desti nati on.[...] The movement not onlv fi'ornvoluntarvmovement directlt controlled
coursethat Mriller fbllorvcdfrom 182.1to 1833shorvsthat it rook bv the brain but also from the resPiratorYmovcment controllcd
Bcll's idca and Magcndie'sexperiments to relate the rcflcx con- by the mcdulla oblongata,asrvcll as fiom involuntarv movement
ccpt to the phvsiologicalfunction ofthe spinalcord. i ni ti ated t r r clir ect st im ulus of ner vc or m uscle f iber . A r ef lex
The seconclrespectin rvhich thc nincteenth centurv rectified movcment is not a spontancous,direct rcsPonseemanatinglrom
the eightt'cnth-ccnturvconcept hacl to do w-ith thc rclation of a centrals our ceiit pf esum esa st im ulusappliedat som c dist ance
reflex movcmcnt to consciousness,that is, rvith ps]chological fiom the reacting muscle being transmitted to thc sPinal cord
matters.It wasexpresslyon this point that Miiller clisagreed u ith and fiom thcrc rellected back to the periphcry.Ilall orienteclthtr
Hall. In dcscribing a reflex as a movement that fbllorvs a sensa- reflcx concept to\4arda scgmentaland cxplicitll mechanisticcon-
tion, Mriller, likc Willis, Whvtt, Unzer and Prochaskabcfore him, ccpti on of t he f unct ionsof t he ner voussyst em .
$'asin a senseobliging himsclf to unravela mvstery:ho$. could a Thi s rvasdif f icult f br M iiller t o acccpt . To be sur c, he uas
movcmcnt depend on a sensationrvhen the ncrvous circuit had u.ith Prochaska,anrl he ascribedall
open about his clisagreement
trcen broken bv decapitation,thus rcmoving the interconnecting rellex movemcntsto a teleologicalprjnciple ofinstinctivc organic
sensoryorgan,the brain?Although Miiller disagreedrvith Whytt, sell:prescnation. But as Fearinghaspointcd out, Nliillcr's interest
r r ho believe d th a t re fl c x mo v c me n tsi n vol veclboth consci ous in the phcnomcnaof associated movementsand radiantsensations
sensationsand spontaneousreactions, and although he praised and his elaborateatternptsto explainthc latter in terms of a rellex
Prochaskafbr havingpointed out that a ref'lexmight or might not lirnction ofthe brain and spinalcord show that hc *as a Iong rvav
be accompanicdby a conscioussensation,he rcgardcdthc rcflex from conceivingofreflexcs assegmcntaland local mcchanisms.In
asthe effect of a centripetal action propagatedtou.arclthe spinal lact, Miiller's obscrvationsof associatedmovemcntsin narcotized
cord bv the sensorvnerve, rvhich thcn might or might not con- ani mal sand gener alr ef lex convulsionsled him t o t uo sim ult a-
rinuc on to the common sensoriumand, thus, might or might not neousconclusions:reflcx movcmcntscan involve the entire bodv
become conscious.Rcflcx movement \ras therefbre one species in responseto the most insignificantlocal sensation,and thc nrorc
r v it hin a gc n u s c o mp ri s i n g a l l m o v e me ntscondi ti oncd on the extensi vea r ef lcx nt ovem entis, t he lessit is slnchr onized.
ac t ion of t he s e n s o ryn e N c s . Il a l l , o n th c other hancl ,fcl t that Mi i l l er's concept ol'r ef lex, u. hich m aint aincda connect ion

196 t97
$'ith sensation- that is, with the brain - as rvell as the possibil- soul (Rtckenmarhsseelel,
a nrcclrrllary rvhich enabledhim to cxplain
ity that a local sensationmight produce reflectedeffectsthrough- the purpose of reflex actions. Hall, on the othcr hand, drer" a
out t he o rg a n i s m,s i d c s tc p p e dm o s t o f the obj ecti ons that had sharp dist inct ion bet u'een adapt ivcor int ent ional m ovem cnt ,
been raisedagainstI lall's ideas.Ha]l had scandalizedmany physi- deliberateand stemming fiom thtr brain, and reflcx movement'
ologists by attributing to the spinal cord a power to regulate rvhich hc characterizedas"aimless."Lessmechanisticthan I lall,
movement still rvidcly bclieved to be an exclusive province of ,\4n1lcrhad raised the rigidity causcd bv certain generalizedre-
t he br ain .[...] llcxcs as an objection againstProchaska'sview, though it is true
I t u. asi n 1 8 5 J , fb u r Ie a rs b e fo re H al l ' s death, that E duard that N4iillcrn ascareful to notc that this occurred onl,v"in a suit-
Pllilger pubfishedDie scnsorischen Functionen desRtjckenmarks der ably prepared animal." Pfliigcr's concept of the reflcx must be
llirhcltiere.The rvell-knou'nlarvsof reflcx activity (homolateral regarde das a m isleadingdialect icalsvnt hesisiit s cxper im ent al
conduction, symmetry,medullarv and ccrebral irradiation, gen- basisrvasas old as Marshall Ilall, whereasthe philosophicalcon-
er nliz at io n )c s s c n ti a l l yre c a s t,i n a p p a r entl vmore experi menta) tc\t that made it meaningfulrvasas old as Prochaskarvould havc
lbrnr. l\liillcr's notion of the associationof movementsand the been.ha d hc not died in 1820.
radiation ol sensations.In lict, Pflnger follou'ed Mriller in using In l a ct , Pf higerdid not succecdin 1851 in f inding a st r ict lr
t he r ef lex c o n c rp t to c x p l a i n s o -c a l l e dsympatheti cor conscn- phrsi ol ogicalsolut ion t o a pr oblcm t hat Hall, r at hcr t han r eall'-
su.rlphenomcna,u hoseirtcrprctation had previous)vdivided pro- l aci nu, h at l sidest eppcdb, r at t r ibut ing r vhat hc called "er <cit o-
ponent so l th e p ri n c i p l e o fa n a s to m o s i sol rhc pcri pheralnervcs motol po\1ers"to ncne fibers.The problcm lav in the rerms"scn-
( - [ hom asWi l l i s , R a v mo n dV i e u s s e n sP, aul -Joscph
B arthcz)fi onr sation"or "lensit)ilitv" as ther rvercust<lin the earliestdcflnition.
bc liev c r r i n th c p ri n c i p l e o l a c o n fl u e n ceol i mpressi onsi n the ,rf the re llex. Willis had said t hat "r ellex m ot ions inr nle( liat eh
\.nsoriunl.ommunc(.leanAstruc, Robert Whvtt, Joh.rnnAugust lbllow sensation"(notus rellexusest qui d ttn\ioncPrueviaimme
Unzer, George Prochaska).According to Prochaska,the rellex illico retorqueturl,whereasProchaskahad said
diotus dependens,
conccpr prcscrvedthc cxplanationof svmpathiesin terms of the that " one of t he com m on scnsor vf unct ions is t o r cllect senst
tcnsoriumco munebut located the latter outside the brain in thc impressionsas motor imptrlscs" (prcecipuaJunctio scnsorilcom-
meclullaoblongataand spinalcord. Unlike Wh,vtt, Prochaskadis- munisconsistatin reJlcxioneimpressionumscnsoriorumin mototid\).
tinguished thc Jensorium communefrom the soul but continued Nliiller beganhis chapteron rcflex movcmcntsbv saying,"l\1ore-
to credit it n ith a teleological function, according to $'hich the ntents that fbllow scnsationshavc alvvavsbcen knorln." As long
reflcx action rvasa fbrm of self-preservinginstinct (no.tffironser- as pcople continued to speakof "sensation," thev remaineclon
y at io) . S o i t i s h a rd l v s u rp ri s i n gth a t Pfl ti ger i n 1851 fel t that thc terrain ol psvchologv.It rr.aslogical to look fbr a seatof thc
Prochaskahad had a better understandingof the nature of the psvche,and r vhv not suspectt he spinal cor d? I n 1817,Richar cl
rcf)ex processin 1784than Hall had managedin 1832-33.For the DugardCraingcrcorrectlv noted that contcmporarvphvsiologists
samcrcasonsthat had persuadedProchaskato hold on to the con- appearc dt o bclieve in t hc cxist cnccof t uo kinds of scnsat ion,
ccpt of a sensoriumcommuncPfliiger believed in the existcnceol onc con scious,t he ot hcr unconscious.Eclr var cl G eor gc Tandr
LiddeJpoints out that \1henCharlesTodclcoined the term "affer-
cl i ni cal obscr vat ionst hus f br ce( l phvsiologist st o considcr scg-
cnt" in 1839, .r major step rvastaken touard distinguishingbe-
mcnts i n t hc cont cxt of t he or ganismasa lvholc.
t $een t he tw o k i n d s o fs e n s a ti o n . Ye t it mav be that the trul v
When Shcrringtondiscovcrc<lthat the scratchreflex nas not
major step came only later, when the subjectiveconcept ofsen- r vit h a st r ict lv def lned r ef lcxogeniczone,
i nertri ca blvassociat cd
sibilitv (/e senrdc /iqf./ur) rvasreplacedbv a purelv objective one
hc laid thc groundrvork fbr a ncu' rtctification of the conccpt.
defined in tcrms of the histology of receptors. 'fhe rcllcx \\'a! no\\' seen not so much .rs the reaction of a sPc-
What is interesting about thc history of thc rcflcx concept
ci fi c organ in r esponset o a st im ulus as an alr eadYcoor dinat ed
between Pfltiger'srvork and CharlesScott Sherrington'sfirst pub-
movcmcnt dctennincd in p.rrt bv stimuli in a certain part of thc
lications is its importation fiom physiologv into clinical rvork,
organismand in part [r1 thc organism'sglobal state.Reflex movtr-
rvhich bcgan rvith Ilall. Thc lattcr was thc first to use the dis-
mcnt, ev cn in it s sim plest ,m ost . r nalvt ic. rflbr m , r Tasa f ir t m ol
ruption or disappearance
ofcertain reflexesas cliagnosticsvmp-
bchavior,thc rcaction of an organic v' hole to a changcin its rcla-
toms. The concept of the reflex arc gradualll took on meaning
ti on to the envlr onm ent .
beyond that associatcdu ith the schcmatic structure introduced
Although thc *rrrd "integration" did not aPPcarin Sherring-
bv Rudolph Wagncr in 184'1;incorporatcd thus into svmptom-
ton' s vocabular l unt il af t er t hc ninet eent hcent ur - vhad endcd,
atologv and clinical examination,it inlluenced therapeuticdeci-
the conccpt ol integrationw.1!thc cro$ ning achieventcntof ninc-
sion-making.But as the reflex concept passedlionl the laboratory
tecnth-c{.'Dturvneurophvsiologr.Sherrington'srvork on rigidity
int o t he h o s ;ri ta l , i t d i d n o t g o u n c h a n ged.W hi l e most phys-
duc to <lcccrcbration(1898), rt'ciprocal innervationand svnapses
iologiststcnded to look upon reflcxcsas ftrndamcntal,unvarying
convergedon a tlemonstrationof thc lict that a basicreflcx inrclvcs
mechanisms,a ferv clinicians,among them Emil .lendrassik,who
mcdul l a n'int cgr at ionof a nr usclcbundle int o an ent ir c m cnr bcr
lbllo*cd up thc uork o[Wilhelm Heinrich Erb and Carl Friedrich
through conver genceol af f er ent inf luxcs and com binat ion of
O t t o W es tp h a l(1 8 7 5 )b v l o o k i n g s y s tc mati cal l vfor tendon re- antagonisticrenctions.'l-helirnctionsof thr: brain Arcan cxtension
f'lexes,llere surpriseclto cliscoverthat such reflexesrvereneither ol the medullar vint cgr at i( ) nnf t he par t s t o t he cnt ir r or ganism .
constantnor unifbrm, and that thcir abscnct'rvasnot necessarily In adaptingHughlingsJackson'sconcept ol integr.rtion,Sherring-
a pathological symptom. It rvould not be long bcfcrrcphysiol- ton \\' asint cr cst ednot in it s evolut ionar vinr plicat ionsbut onlv
ogis t s uou l d b e o b l i g e d to a b a n d o n the i de.r of a refl cx as a i n i ts str- uct ur al
oncs,
s im plc ar c c s ta b l i s h i n ga o n c -to -o n crc l ati onshi pbctw cen sti m- It sc cm sr casonablet o sav t hat Slr cr r ingt on. r clr ieved,
in t hc
ulus and muscularresponse. fi el clofphvsiologv,t he dialect icalsvnr hesis of t hc r cf lex concept
T he ge n e ra l i z a ti o no f c e l l th e o rv , th e i denti fi cati on of neu- ui th thc conccpt ol- or ganict ot alit v t lt at I ir st Pr - ochaska. r nd
t hen
rons untler the microscopeand technologicaladvancesin histo]- l\'ltillcr had sorrghtanclthat I'lliiger.haclmisle.rdinglvachicveclbr
ogv dcmonstratcd,o1-coursc,that ncrvescould be decomposed i ntcrprc t ingt he r esult sof his phvsiologicalcxpcr im cnt sin m et a-
analvticallvinto smallcr- in somc scnscatomic - structures.The phvsi calt er m s,
concept ofa scgrncntalref'lex ruastherebv corroboratcd. New B l th c enclof t hc ninct eent lrcent r r r \ ,t hc r elJcxconct : pth. r cl
thus been purged of anv teleological implications, u'hile it had Cuapr r n Nr n r
alsoceascdto be seen- asHall had sccn it - asnothing more than
a simple mcchanical reaction. Through a scrics of corrections, Biological Ob jects
it had become an authentically phvsiologicalconcept. IEtuder,
pp.296-30a)

,l

A Principle ol Thematic Conserv.ttion


[75] The historv ofa sciencervoulclsurelv fail ofits goal ifit did
not succeedin representingthe succcssionof attempts, impasses
and repetitions that resultcd in thc constitution of rvhat the sci-
cnce todav takesto be its object of interest.Unlike geometrvand
astronomy,terms that are more than trvo thousandvcarsold, the
term biologv is not yet nvo hundred vcarsold. When it u'aslirst
proposcd,gcometrv had long since ccaseclto be the science of
figurcsthat can be drav'.nn,ith a straightedgeand compass,while
astronomvhad onlv recentlvexpancledits scopeofinterest bevond
the sol arsyst em .I n bot h cases,t he signif ierof t he scient if icdis-
ci pl i ne r cm ained t hc sam c, but t he discipline in quest ion had
broken r vit h it s past . Bl cont r asr , t he concept of biologr , was
inventedto characterizc,in retrospecr,a disciplinc that haclnot
yet broken with its past.
The *.ord "biology" occurs fbr thc flrst time in .Jean-Baptiste
Lamarck's Hvdrogdolollie
(1802). When he mentioned the rvord
again,in the prefaceto his Philosoph;c rcologiguc(1809), it $,asin
allusion to a treatiscro be entitled Ito./ogic,$'hich he neveractu-
allv rvrote. Strikingly,this prefaceis concernedrvith generalprob-
lems of animal organization"as one travcrscstheir entire series

201
liom rhe most per{act to the most imperfcct." fhe idea of a hier- rhat cnd , I dir ect t he r eaclcr 'sat t cnt ion t o t he cnd of t he his-
ar c hic al sc ri e so f a n i m a l s ,a c h a i n o f b ci ng, i ndi catesthat the tori cal pr ocess.For cont em por ar ! biochem ist s,t he lir nct ionsof
objec t of th e n c rv b i o l o g v \\' a sth e s a m c as that of A ri stotl e' s sclflpreservation,self'-reprocJuction .rnrJsclf:rcgulationarc char-
Ilistorid onim(rliumanclDe partihusanima,lium.llence, Lamarck's actcri stic pr oper t ies of m icr oor ganism ssuch as bact cr ia. l- he
ou,n invention- modiflcation in the organsthrough force ofhabit modt' l of ien pr oposedby scicnt ist st hcnt sclvcsand not just bv
and under th c i n fl u e n c eo [c h a n g i n ge n ri ronmcntalcondi ti ons- popul arizcr sof t heir r vor k is t hat of t h( "f t r lll aut om at edchcm i-
rvasexplicitlv intendcd to reestablish"thc verv ordcr of nature" cal l act or v. "ai The or ganic f ir nct ions ar c acknor vlcdgedt o be
bev ondt he l a c u n a ca n d d i s c o n ti n u i ti c si n the svstemof cl assi fi - supcri ort o t heir t echnologicalcount t 'r par t sin r ciiabilit v, if not
c at ion pr o p o s e db l n a tu ra l i s ts- i n o ther w ords, to cstabl i sha i nl al l i bilit y,and in t he exist enceol m echanism fsbr dct cct ingand
clear progressionanclgraclationin organizationthat could not be correcting reproductiveerrors or l'lals. Thcse facts make it rca-
ov er look e dd c s p i tca n v " a n o ma l i c s ." son.rbleto ask rvhether there is not some principle ol thcrn.rtic
As fbr the other invcntor of the term and concept of biology, consen'ationat *.ork in thc historicalconstitution of biologv.On
Gottfiied Reinhold Trcviranus,the verv tidc ol the book he pub- thi s vi c*, which cont r ast suit h an idca of - scicncccl. r bor at ecl
bv
lished in 1802, Biolollieoder Philosophie der l.ebenclcn
Notur lir hi stori a ns. r ndphilosophcr sin t hc cr a u'hcn phvsicsdcalt u'it h
Nctturlorscher unrl,'lrztc(r'olumc 2 in a six-volumc scries,the last macroscopicobjects, biologv is diflerent liorn the other sciences,
of q, hic h \ 1 a sp u b l i s h e di n 1 8 2 2 ),i n d i catesthat he had no w i sh anclthe historv of biologv ought to rellect that tict in thc tlur:s-
to separatcor distinguish thc naturalist from thc phvsicianas to tions it asksanclthe rvayin rvhich it answersthcm. Iror thc allcgcd
t heir philo s o p h i c a lo r g e n e ra lc o n c c p tion of the phenomenao[ pri nci pleof t hcm at icconscnat ionin t hc hist or vol biologvis per -
lif c . I hus , a t th e trl rn o f th e n i n e te e n thccnturv, a new w aY of hapsonlv a r cf lect ion of t he biologist 'saccept ancein one r vavor
looking at tho studv of Jir.ingthings, which r.:ntailecl
a ncw logic, anothero1 t hc indisput ablef act t hat lile, u hat everlbr m it m ay
rvasin fact limitcd by the tradition.rlassociationofthc standPoint takc, involvc:ssclf:prcscrvationbv meansof self:regul.rtion.l/r/c-
ol t hc nat u ra l i s trv i th th a t o f th e p h v s i ci an,that of the i nvesti ga- oloq) ontl Rationalftr',
pp. 125-28]
t or wit h t h a t o fth c h c a l c r.[...]
S inc e t h e tu rn o f th c n i n e te e n th c c ntury, horvevcr,defi ni - Various Monilestotions of the Biologicol Object
tions ol biologv'sspecificobjcct havebeen purgcd of valueJaden
conceptssuch as pt'rfiction or impcrlcction, normalitv or abnor- In anLiquit.t'
malitv. l'herapeutic intcntions, tvhich once informccl or, more [76] l hc f unclam cnt alconcept sin Ar ist ot lc's dcf init ion of lif c
accuratclv,deformed,thc biologist'svieu of laboratoryuork, have are thosc of soul .rndorgan.A living btxJvis an animatcand organ-
sincc trct'n lirnitetl to tht applicationsol biological knorvledge. i zed bodv. I t is anim at ebecauscit is or ganized.I t s soul is in f ; ct
llence, it rvould sccm that the clucstionof"normalitv" in the his- act, lbrm and cn<l."Supposcthat the eve .rvercan .rnimal - sight

torv of biologv ought to be classcdasa mattcr of historicalrather rvoul <l r avebcen it s soul. . . . Wc m ust no. r rcxt
. cnd our consicler -
t han c ur r e n t i n trrc s t. Is h a l l a tte mp t to P rovethc contrarv.To ati on fro m t he'par t s't o t hc uhole living bor lv; f br u'hat t hc

)<)4 2{] t
departmentalscnscis to the bodily part rvhich is its organ, that and eighteenthcentuties
In thc scventeenth
by
the rvhole facultv ofsenseis to the rvholc sensitivebodv assuch."a6 [77] D escar t escont r adict cd Ar ist ot le's pr oposit ionsPoint
'fhe organsarc the instrumentsof thc soul'senrJs."The bod,r too poi nt. Fo r him , nat ur e was ident ical u'it h t he laws o{ m ot ion
must somcho* or other be madc fbr thc soul. and each part ofit and conservation.Every .rrt, including meclicine, r'as a kind of
f'or some sul,ordinate function, to n'hich it is rdapted."a?It is machinc-building.Descartcsprcserveclthe anatomicalanclPhvs-
im pos s ib l e to o v e rs tn teth e i n fl u e n c e ol A ri stotl e' s use of the i o)ogi cal concept ol an or gan but elim inat ed any dist inct ion
tcfm o.rtdnonto designatca lirnctional part (nrorion)oIan animal A living bodv could ser ve
betl l eeDor gani, / at ionand f . r br ic, r t ion.
or vegetal body such as a hand, bcak. u'ing, root or vvhathave as the model fbr an automaton or vice versa. \'et therc was an
vou, LIntil at least the encl ofthe eighteenth centurv, anatomy ambiguity in this reversibility.fhe intention behind the construc-
and phv s i < rl < rgpyre s e rv e d ,rv i th a l l i ts ambi gui ti es,a term that tion ofan automaton tvasto coPynature,but in the C.rrtt'sianthe-
i,
Aristotle borrorr.edfrom the lexicon ofartisans and musicians, t,j ' orv of fife the automaton servesas an intelligible equivolcntol
$,hoseuse indicatesimplicit or cxplicit acccptanceof some sort nature. There is no rcrom in Cartesianphysicsfbr an ontological
ofanalogv bctwccn naturc and art. life and technics. tr diflerence betwcen nature and art. "[S]o it is no Iessnatural lbr
As is rvt'll knou.n, Aristode conceivedolnature and life asthe ,W a clock constructcd!vith this or that sct of rvheelsto tell thc time
ar t of ar t s , b v * h i c h h e m e a n t a p ro c csstel eoJogi calbv i ts very than it is lbr a tree wh:ch grcw from this or that sced to produce
nature, immnnent, unpremeditatcdand undcliberatcd- a process the appropr iat eliuit . "a'q[ . . . ]
t hat ev er! te c h rri q u ete n d s to i mi ta te , a nd that the art of medi - i ' tb be gin uit h, t ht C. r r t esian\ 1at ch is no lesssubjer : tt o t he

c ine appro a c h e sm o s t c l o s e l yrv h e n i t h eal sby appl yi ngto i tsel f l l vs of nr cchanicsit it t ells r he t im c incor r ect lv t h. r n if it t ells
r ult s ins p i rc d b y th e i d c a o f h c a l th , thc rcl os and form ofthe the ti me cor r ect lt . s(5im
l ilar ly, it is no lessnat ur al f cr ri m an t o
living orgrnism. Aristotle, a phvsician'sson. thus subscribedto bc si ck than t o be healt hr , anclsicknessis not a cor r upt ion of '
a biologic a l n a tu ra l i s m th a t h a d a l fi n i ti es rvi th the natural i sm nature.5 lYet t hc t hir st t hat dr ivest he vict im of dr opsy t o dr ink
of llippoc ra te s . is a "\'eritable error of nature," evcn though it is an eflcct of the
Lifc's tclcological proccssis not pcrfcctlv cflicicnt and infal- substantialunion of soul and bodv, r vhosescnsat ions,such as
lible, houer'gr.'l-heexistenceofmonsters shorvsthat nature does thi rst or pain, ar e st at ist icallvvalid indicat or sof t hings or sit ua-
m ak e m is ta k e s ,a 8 rv h i c h c a n b e e x p l a ined i n terms of matter' s tions favorablcor hamrful "to thc consenationofthe human bodv
r es is t anc eto l o n n . F o rmso r e n d sa re n ot necessari land y uni ver- rvhcn i t is f ullv healt hv. "; :This idea is conf ir m ed at r he end of
s a) lyex c n rp l a rv a
; c c rta i n c l c v i a ti o ni s tol eratecl The
. l brm ofan the "Conversationsrvith Burnran"(1648), in rvhich thc metlicirrc
org.rnisntis expressedthrough a rouglr constancy;it is \ahat the ol the ph ysicians,not baseclon sound Car t esiarr ncchanics,is
orq.rnisntappearsto bc most of the time. Hence, *,e can consider dcni gratcd. r nclr idiculed in lavor of a coulse oI conduct am en-
a fbrnr to bc a norm, compared to u,hich the exct:ptionalcan be abl e, as a nim alsar e, t o t hc silcnt lcssonsof nat ur e concer ning
characrcrizcdasabnormal. ldeologv antl Rationalitv,pp. 128-29) " sel f-res t it ut ion. ""Et er y m an is capableof being his or vn physi-
cian."5l Evenfbr Descartes,sellpreservationrcmainsthe primary

206 )07
dis t inc t i v ec h a ra r:tc ri s tioc f th e l i v i n g bodv.l .l
Llndoubtedly it vr,asGcorg Ernst Stahl t ho most stubbornly
delcnded, inhis De divct.ritote (l?06), tht
orqdnisnlier nrc.drlrtn?i
r J.r,,,e.r r, l r cpr odurlir , n lr "nr qt 'n,r Jt ion 1, , ! r nr 'r ', r li^n. . r cr
i n
l .rti ng t he bodies ol living t hings in specif ic lbr m s shapcr lbv
internal nolds. Thc latter, (letermined bv the firrrn ol thc org.rn-
unr u-

irreducibilitv ofthe organism,that is, thc idea that a ccrtain ordcr i sm, dj ct at eclt hc uar in u'hich t he par t s had t o be ar r angedin
ol> t ainsi n th c te l a ti o n so fth e p a rtso 1 ' amechani smto the rl hol e' ,rrdr:rto lorm a rvholc.
A living bodr is both instrumentcdarld instrumcntal.lts t'fficient Considerfor a moment the intelnal mold metaphor.l\'loldsarc
structure lstructurLt, constructio, ordinotio,disttibutioare all used rrsLcli n s m elt ing and nr asonr vt o inr posc. r ccr r ain t hr cc- dim cn-
in paragraph19) revealscoopcration on thc part of mediate or sionalshapc.Etvmologicalh,the qrrrd is rclated to "modulus"ancl
im nc dia tc rg c n ts ,-fh e n ra tc ri rl c o trs ti tuti onof the borl v i s sub- "rrodel." In con'rmonusage,it indicatc! a structural norm. ln liv-
jecr to rapid corruptior, Stahl observcs,horvever,that discaseis ing organisms,horvever,the structural Dorm cin nccommoddte
an r x c e p ti o n a l c o n c l i ti o n .I Ie n c c , th r' re must bc some pol er ol i rregul ar it ies,t o nhich Bulf ir n r eler son nr or e t h, r nonc occasion
conservation,some immaterial pou'er ollering active resistance asanonralies(ltresonomaur).An organic.rnomalyis n()t thc satne
t o dc c o m p o s i ti o n ,p e rD ra n e n tl la t u ork i n the bodi cs of l i vi ng rs .r phvsicalilr egular it v, hr lvevcr . I nit iallv, Buf lbn conct 'ivcd
things. Sclf:prescrvation of the organism is achicvedas a result of gencrat ionas analogoust o cr vst Jllir at ion,bLr tult inr at ell hc
.]
not of s o n re n re c h rn i c a bl u t o fD a tu ra l" autocracr." 9a[.. c.rmcto think of crystallizationasa lbrm of organization.I Ic was
It is not onlv the histon of anatontv and physiologvthat bcgins unabl eto avoid associat ing. r nom alies r vit h degener at ion,hcnce
u it h A r i s to tl c b u t a l s oth e h i s to rv o l * ' hat l ong cal l ed " nat- u i th the pr oblem ol t hc m Lr t abilit vof specics.O n t his point ,
' uas
ur al his to rv ," i n c l u d i n g th e c l a s s i l i c ati on
of l i vi ng thi ngs, thci r B Lrffbnrr a sncr er ablc t o achicvecr r f ainn. I le did not r egar dt ht :
or c ler lva rra n g t' n re n itn a ta b l c o f s i m i l ari ti cs and cl i fl i rences. i rl caofdc r ivat ilc speciesasabsur clon it s lict , br r t hc believcr lor .
s t udv of th e i r k i n s h i p th ro u g h mo rp hol ogi calcompari sonand, prol esscdt o believet h. r t olr scnat ionconlir m cr l t hc t cachingsol
llnallv, studv of thc compatibilitv ol diflereDtmo(lesof e\istcncc. thc B i bl e.t 5
Nat ur al h i s to ry s o u g h rto c x p l a i n th c cl i vcrsi tvol l i fc fi rrmsabl e l'ierre [-ouis ]Vloreauclt l\4aupertuisrvar bold<r in thcorizing,
t o c oex i s t i n a g i v e n e n v i ro n n rc n t.In 17' 19C arol rrsLi nnaeusre- pcrhapsbecausehe possessetllcss extcnsivecmpirical infbrrn.r-
fer-redto this coexistenccas the occonomia ndturdc.l...f ti on. For him , it r uct r lr al v. lr iat ion\ \ 'asr he r ule ol or ganic pr c
ln t h e c i g h te c n thc e n tu r\, th e s tatusol speci esw as l he l bre- gtessi on.ln par agr aph] 1 of t he Sr sr dm rc/ c/ o nalur e( 1751) .hc sct
mclst problem oI the naturalists,as can be leen most clearly of lcrrtha theor\'()l genrration bascdon thc existencr ol'elcment.rrr
all in the r'ork ol Conrte Btrffonand I innaeus.fhc latter did not lhrticlcs of mnttcr t'nclolr,crlu ith appetitc and memorv, \\,hose
ex per ir:n c ea s rn u c h d i i c u l tv a s th e tbrnrcr i n hol di ng that the " arrangc m ent "r cplocluccst he posr iblr m ir aculoussr r uct ur c ol
specicsucrr: fixc(l at creatjon and pcrpctuntc(l from gencration I thc fi rst individuals.The phcnom en. rof r escnr blance, m isccge-
to gcnerrtion. Buflbn .rttemptcd to resolvethe problenr rr itlr his nati on nn d nr onst r osit vcoul<lbc cxplain<<1,
hr , r r gueci,in r cr m s
theorv of "intemll molds" and "organic molecules."Organicmol- ol thc compatibilitv or incoDrpatibilitvof "ar.rangemcnfs" in seeds
rl re
c c ulc s , h c ma i rrta i n c d ,rv e re i n c l c s t ructi bl e;tl rev sur-r' i vctl nri ngkti thr oughcopular ion.I hus, I : r t cr ,in lt ar r {r aph- 15,he. r sks,

2()6 2 ().)
sc not explainin this llay how liom just trvo individualsthe
L--an aclvantage fbr survivalin novcl ecologicalsituations [)arrvin thus
nrostdissimilarspecicscould havemultiplied?Originallvthe; may substit ut eda r andom f it f or a pr cor dainedadaPt . lt ion'Nat ur al
havcsrcmmcdlrom lbrtuitousproductions
in rvhichthe elcmentary sclcction is eliminative. Disadvantaged organisnrsdie; the sun'i-
partsdid not retainthe orderthevoccupiedin the lither andmother vors arc all different in one degrcc or another. Thc reader u'ho
animals.liachdegrecoferror could havcprorluceda nrw specicsl takeslitcrallv such DarrT'inianterms as"selection," "advantage,"
andrepratedcrrorscould havcgivcnriseto thc infinitecliversity
of "adaptation," "favor" and "disfavor" may Partially overlook the
that rvesectodav.
aninrals fict that telcologv hasbeen excludedlrom Darrvin'stheory Does
this mcan that all value-ladenterms havebecn excluded fiom tht'
It is tcmpting to read this text \'\,ithspcctaclesprovided by con- i dea oflif e? l. if e and deat h, successor lailur c in t he st r ugglelbr
temporary biochemical and genetic theorv. Orderand errorocctJr js
survi val- ar e t hese value- neut r alconccpt s' even it st lccess
both here and in contemporaryaccountsofhereclitary biochem- reducc<lt o not hing m or e t han cont inued exist encel'l) oes[ ) 'r r -
ical defects .rsground and cause o[ both normality and abnor- r cv, al hir r hc, ughtor does it \ ( r gg( \ t t hr t ( \ ( n lof
rri n' . l angr r . r ge
m alit y . B u t to d a y b i o c h e mi s trv a n d g e n eti csoffer us a rvay of I)anvi n a causalexplanat ionof adapt at ioncould not abolisht he
interprcting org.rnicabnormalitiesthat was rvorkedout in coop- "r ital nreaning"ofadaptation, a meaningdetermined trv conrPlr-
c r at ion l{ , i tl r tl re D a rrv i n i a nc rp l a n a ti o nofthe ori gi n ofspeci es ison of thc living rvith the dead?As [)aru'in otrserved.\'ilri'rtionr
and t he a( l a p t.rri o no f o rg a n i s ms .H e n c e Maupertui s' sproposi - i n nat ur t r t r ul<l have r cm ained nit hout cllect hat l it not lr t 'en
tions should be legardcd more as Iictions than as anticipations tbr rrat ur . r \l elect ion. Wh. r t could lim it t he . r bilit \ of t his la'r ',
of s c ient if i c fh e o r-i e sto c o rrrr. H e rv a sunabl e to ol crcome the r)pera t ingr x, era long pet iod r ll t in] c lnr l r igor ouslr s(r t t t iniTing
rlifficultr poscd bv rhe naturalmechanismfbr nor-malizingdiffer- thc \tr uct ur e, ovcr all or ganizat iollanr l habit s ol ever l cr eat ur ( ] r
eDces.Both he and Bullon believed that human intervention - to promote good and rcject evil?;''
t hlough t e c h n i rl u c so f h L rs b a n d rv
o r a g ronomv- r' as the onl v A n d l) ar r vin's\ \ 'or k ends \ \ 'it h a coDt r ilst :"uhilc t his planet
!r'a} to stnbilire rariations * ithin species.lldeolog.v and Rotionol- hasgone circling on according to thc fixed larv ol gr;vitl, lrom
it r . pp. 129 -3 5 ] so simplc a beginningendlcsslbrms most beautifuland most \\1)n-
derlul havebeen arrdarc bcing evolvcd."
ln thc ninctccnthcentury In suggestingthat individual variations,deviationsiD \tructure
[78] Thc pubf ication of On the Origin of Species
b.v.l,leansol Nat- or i nst inct , ar c usclul becauset hcv vield a sur vivaladr . r nr agcin a
ural Selection;or the PrescrvationoJ FavouredRacesin the Struggle $orld in rvhich rclations of organism to organismarc the most
for Ltlein l8 59 occasioneddoubts in the minds of somc carlyread- i mpor t ant of all causcsof changein living beings,l) ar r vin int r o-
crs becauseof the traditional mcaning of certain concepts men- duced a nervcriterion ol'normalitv into biologv, a criteritln bascd
tioncd in the titlc and frequentlv alluded to in the bodv of the on thc living creaturc'srclation to lil'e and dcath. Bv no means
work, The thtory ofnatural selection statcsthat ccrtain devia- did he eliminatc moralitv fi"omconsiderationin dctelmining thc
tions liom the norm can be seena porfcriolito provide a tenuous object ofbiologv. Beloret)aru in, dcath u.asccrnsiclereclto lre thc

l.
it

fl
regulatorof the quantitv of lifii (Buflbn) or the sanctionimposed onh t hc lir st hist or vcxist s;t hc secondis
scicncr : s,
i n thc phvsical
lbr infiactions of nature's ordcr, thc instrument of her cquilib- to be Phvsiologv
lbun<|. is to thc motion of living bodics
norvherr:
r ium ( l- inn a e u s ).Ac c o rrJ i n gto D a r$ ,i n ,death i s a bJi ndscul ptor drnanlics,hvllraulics, hvdrottatics andsttfbrth. . .
\r'h.ttastronomv,
ol living lbrms, lbrms elaboratcdwithout preconceivcdidta, as
.1reto the motionsof incrt bodies.The l:rttcrh.rvcno scicnccthat
tleviationsfkrm normalitv are convcrtcd into chancesfbr sun ival to thcm ls PathologlcorrcsPontlr to thc Ibrmer.l8
corrcsponds
in a changedenvironmcnt. Danvin purged lrom thc concept of
adaptationanv rcfcrenceto a preordaincdpurpose,but he did not s eed it h Bichatt hat t her e exist vit al
B ut not a ll phvsiologist agr
separatcit complctelv from the concept of nomalitv. In thc spirit
fbrcesnot subjcct to thc lan'sof Phvsics.Here I must citc Claude
of Danvinism, horvcvcr,a nonn is not a flxcd rule but a transi-
B ernarcloncc m or c, l) ecausehis posit ion is so up t o r Jat e.He
t iv e c apac i ty -fh
. c n o rm a l i ty o fa Ii v i n g thi ng i s that cl ual i tvofi ts
admi tted, lir st ol'all, dr at vit al Phenom enaar e sub, cct onlY t o
rclation to the environmcnt $hich enablt'sit to gcnerateclescen-
phvsi caland chem icalcauses,but hc alsoheld t hat t hc or ganism
dant s ex hi b i ti n g a ra n g eo fv a ri a ti o n sa n d standi ngi n a nerv rel a-
cl oel ops f iom t hc egg accor dingt o an im m ancnt design,a plan,
tion to their rcspcctiveenvironments,and so on. Normalitv is not
a rcgul.rritv,u'hich is responsiblelbr its ultimatc otganiz.rtion,for
a qualit v o fth c l i v i n g th i n g i ts e l l b u t a n aspectol ' the al l -encom-
its h.rrmonv,pcrsistenccan(I,il neetl be, rcstoration.
pas s ingr c l a ti o n b e tn e c n l i fc a n d d e a th as i t afl ccts the i ndi vi d- What Bcrnard dcscribed in imagcs is todat cxplained bv the
ual lifi firrm at a given point in rime. theoremsol macromolcculat-biochcmistrv. Like thc mct.rphoro1'
T hus , t h e e n v i ro n mc n t d e c i c l e s ,i n a nontel eol ogi cal u.ay, the " i ntcr nal m old, " t hc im agesof "dcsign, " "plan, " "guiding
rvhich variationsrvill sun i,r'e,but this docs not necessarilymean idoa" an<l"or<ter"are gircn rctroactivelcgitimacv bv the trrnccpt
that evo]ution does not tenrl to create an org.rnicorder firm in ofa prog r amcn( o( le( lin sequcnccsof nucleot idcs. ; 'r l: or t he lir - st
it s or ient a ti o n i l p re c a r-i o u isn i ts i n c a rnati ons.Il crcdi tv i s an ti me i n t he hist or vof biologv, . r llt he pr oper t icsol living t hings-
uninterruptecldclcgationol'orclinalpou.er.What diflcrcncc does r epr oduct ion,her edit ar ycont inuit ! - can
gro\\' th,or ganiz. r t ion,
it makc if, in SalvaclorLuria's rvorcls,"evolution operatesrvith bc cxpl . r inedin t er m sol m olecularst m ct ur e,clr em icalr cact ions,
t hr eat s ,no t p ro n l i s e s " ? 5 7. f.
.] enzymcsand genes.lltlcoloo.varu1Rationalit.v,
1>p.lj6-)91
The plrvsiologists took thcir inspirationliom a distinction flrst
m adc br Xa v i e rB i c h a t: ln lhe t*enticth ccntur.t
[79] l hc level ol'object ivit \ nt $hich t he opposit ion bet uccn
Therearc tno kindsoi lili phcnomcna: (l)the st.rtcol hcalth,and normal .rndabnormaluas lcgitinrrtc uas shilied lionr the surf.rce
(2) tht statcofsickness.
Ilence,thcrcarctrvodistinctscicnces:phvs- to the dcpths, lrom thc <lcvelopcrJ organisnrto its germ, from thc
iologv ,rrh i c h i s c o n c e rn c d
rv i th p h c n o mtnaof the l i rst state,and macroscopict o t he ult r am icr oscopic.Nou it is t hc t r . r nsm ission
pathologv, s lrichis conccrncdu ith thoscoi the scconci.l'hehistory of thc htreditarv mcssage, thc procluctionof thc gcnetic progranr,
ol phcnomcna
in w hich thc vital lbrceshavcthcir naturaltypc Ieads that (l et er m incs. what is nor m al an<lr lhat is a dcviat ionlr om t hc
us to that ol phcnomcn,r
in * hich thosclorccsaredistortecl.
Norv, norntal.Somehum.rnchromosornalanomalit:ssuclras mongolism

2rl
c an be obs e n e dd i rc c tl v i n th e c l i n i c . Others,suchas K l i nefcl tcr' s ti ons of r r h. r t I h, r vepr oposeclc: r lling t he pr inciplc of t hcm at ic
s r ndr om e , a re to l e ra trd rv i th o u t a p p a renti l l efl cct and mani - conser\'(rtion.
lest rhemselvesonh in spccial ecological circumstances.As for I anticipat cone possibleobject ion, hor veverI' n looking lbr a
gcnetic anomalies,I shall mention only "innate errors of metab- clistinctiveconcept of normalit) in biology, have I not confuserl
olism" - to usc the phrasethat Archibald Edward G.rrrodcoincd the i ssu cby consider ingdif f er ent or der s of biological object si
in 1909 - that is, specific biochemical lesions that result from r\stronomersfiom Sir William Herschelto EclrvinHubble rcvoltr-
thr presenceof a mutant gene, which is called "abnormal" not ti oni zedt heir disciplinebv m agnif yingt heir object t o an unim ag-
ro much becauseof its statistical rarity as becauseof its patho- i nabl e degr t c, r evealinggalaxiesbevond r lr c solar svst eman<l
logic al or e v e n fa ta l e l fe c ts (fo r e x a m p le.hemophi l i a, H unri ng- mct.rga laxieslr cvond t he galaxies.Bv cor '\ t r dstbioloSist
, sha\ c
t on' s c hor e a a n d s o o n ). A n e w n o m e n c l atureol di seasei s thus di scorer edt he nat ur eo[ lif e b1'r r . r kinqt hcir object ssm al] ( 'r , t n( l
established,referring diseasenot to the individual consideredin smal l cr :l>act cr iumgene,
, enr vm e. I n t he pr ecedingdiscussion,
its totality but to its morphological and functional constituents: am I dcaling rvith observationsat one level and explanations.rt
diseascsol the hcmoglobin, hormonal diseases
(such as hypcrthv- another ?Nor m alit v appcar st o bc a pr opcr t v of t he or ganism ,
roidism), musclediseases
and so forth. Gene murationsthat block btrt i t c lisappcarrsvhen *e look at t he elem ent st h. lt m ake uP
chcmical svntheses
by altcring their cnzymecatalystsare no Ionger that organisnr.
intcrpreted as deviations irr l\,laupertuis'ssenscbut as crrors in At nll lcv(ls, horrever,biologistsh:rveidenrifiedordcring 5truc-
r c . r dingt hc g e n e ti c " me s s a g e ,"c rro rs i n the reproducti on crr (ur(s th . r t ,r vhilc gcnr 'r alh r eliahle,sot r r et inr es
l) il. The conccpt
c opy ing of a te x t. to rctrr to th,.'stortlcring structures.No
ofnornralitr is irrrcD<lcd
The term "crror" docs not implv that scicncehas rcturned to suchconcept is neededin t he epist er nologvof phvsics,Bv int r o-
the Aristotclian and mediet'alnotion that monstersare errors of rJrrcingit as I havedone here, I in no \1ir! intend to dcnv that biol-
nature, fbr the failure here is not somc lack of skill on the part ogv is bascdon phvsicsand chemistry. I do intend to Preventthe
of the artisanor architect bur a mere copvist'sslip. Still, the nerv t o hist or r '.I n t he
coal csc ingol $r 'o pr opcr lvdist inct appr oaches
s c ienc eof l i v i n g th i n g s h a sn o t o n l v n o t el i mi nated thc contrast history o{ biologr',the pseuclotheoretic.rl content of prescientific
beoveen normal and abnormal but it hasactuallv groundt'd that of st r uct ur al and t unct ional nor m alit \ ' \ t '45
concep t u<r liz. r r ions
c()ntrastin the structure ol livinq things themselvcs.no [/deolog,r, abanclc'ncd, but the conccptualizatiorrsthcnrst'lveslrate heen pre-
ctndRotionality,pp. 140-4l] senerl, in "displaced"fonr, as inclicesol the objectivcuiriquencss
ofthc l iving or ganism .Dm it r v N{endclevev's per ior iict able docs
A New Historical Crux not j ustilv l) cm ocr it us'sint uit ions . 1 posleot i, bt r t t he decoding
[80] Perhapsthe epistemologistmav norv be allo*'ed to remain of the gcnetic program cloesproviclea portcriorijustiflcation of
skepticalabout dogmatic rcductionist viervs,given nvhatcan be C l audcBer nar d'sm et aphor s.Evenuit hin t he t er r nsof a m onist -
lear nedif r v c l o o k a t th e h i s to rv o f b i o l ogv, w i thout any si m- i ndeeda nr at cr ialist- epist cm olog\ ',
phr sicsr em . r insr adicallvclif -
plif y in{ a p ri o l i a s s u mp ti o n s ,i n l i g h t o f the vari ousm.rni festa- fcrent fr om biolo{v, Phvsicsr "aspr or lucet l,som et im csat r isk oI

2 r4 2t{
lile and li mb , b y Ii v i n g th i n g s s u b j e c tto si cknessand death, but Pa nr F oun
sicknessand dt'ath are not problems of phvsics.Thev are prob-
lem so1b i o l o g v .
Betseen the bactc'riain a laboratorvculture and the biologists
rr.ho obscn'e them, thcrc is a rvhole rangc of living things per- In te r p r e ta ti o n s
m it t ed t o e x i s t b v th e fi l te r o f n a tu ra lscl ecti on. I' hei r l i vesare
gov er nec lb v c c rta i n n o rm s o f b e h a v i or and adaptati on.(Jues-
tions about the vital meaningof thosenorms, though not directly
m at t er s o f c h e mi s trv a n d p h v s i c s ,a rc questi onsof bi ol ogv. A s
Nt ar jor ie C re c n c p o i n ts o u t, a l o n g s i dethe bi ochemi sts therc
is room in biologv fbr a FreclerikJacobusBuvtcndijk or a Kurt
Goldstein.6rHistorv sh<r.rvs
that she is right. lldeolog.v
and Ration-
alit.v,pp. 14)-141

2 t6
Crr,qprrn TrN
I,i

Ren6 Descartes

Relotions between Theory and Technology


[81] W hat r lid Descar t esknor v about t echnologv,and uhat did
hc l rop e t o lear n liom it ? I I is cor r espondence,
r er eaclnit h t his
qucstion in mind, givcsa strong imprcssionof a man r",ith a u'ide
curiositv al>outpractical techniques and keen to discover prin-
ciples or larvsthat might account fbr thcir cflicacv. The subjects
that rccur m ost f r equcnt lvin his m cdit at ionsar e, ol cour se,t he
gri nrl i ng ol lcnsesf br opt ical inst r um cnt s,t he const r uct ion of
machi n esand t he ar t of m edicine, Yct he also f bund in t hc r ou-
tincs of peasantsand solcliersand the lore of travelersmaterial
lirr comparisonanclopportunities to put his theoriesto the test.
The influence ol the soil on thc gro\\'dr ol transplantedplants,
thc m.rturation of fiuits, the separationof materi.rlso[ diffi'rcnt
dcnsi tv in t he m anuf act ur eof but t er , t he r vaya chilcl'slcgs f lail
rvhi l e m ount ing a hor sc, t hc r inging of bells in or dcr t o cause
thuncl c rclouds t o bur st - t hcsc com m onplaccsof r ur al lif e pr o-
vi cl cd l ) escar t esr vit h occasionsf br r ellect ion. As a soldier , he
rubbed t he t ip of his pike r vit h oil and not iccd spar ks.And. r s a
rcsi(lentof Amstcrdam, he rvasauarc ofall that a great port had
to offer in the rvavofpractical and luxurv goods,and ofall that a
popu)ation that each day u clcomecltravclcrsfiom the antipodes

2t9
could tca(h .rbout hum.tndivcrsitv.With astonishmentand admi- l )cscartc s'sr lillingnesst o "lo*cr his t hought t o t he leastol t he
r at ion \ 11 \1 a tc h D e s c a rtc sa p p l y h i s ! crupul ousl v methodi cal mechanics'invent ions" ( 1, 185) t hat enableclhim t ( ) ( ( ) ncr ivc of '
int c lligen c c ' to th e m o s t d i v c rs ca n d s pcci al i zrdtechni calprob- the rel at ionbr : t r , ecnt heor l and pr act icein. r t av t hat is im por
lerns:smoking chimncvs,watcr pumps and marshdrainagc,mcdi- tant not o nly lbr under st andinghis t hought but f ir r gr aspingt he
cal diagnosis,dnrgs,allcgcrllvmiraculouslountains,automata,thc natLrre r ef lect ion in gcncr al.
of phil( ) s( ) Phical
, e v e l o c i tv ofbul l cts, thc strcngthof
t r ajc c t or yo l c a n n o n b a l l sth Il orl did l) cscar t esconceiveof t hc r clat ion bet t een t heor y
a srtord thrust, thc sound of bells. l)escartes'sinterest in artil- .rnrltechnologv?lb ans\r.erthis questi()n,lct us turn to the texts.
lerv, mtrlicinc anrl automata lvas, of course, sharc'rlbv many of In anv nu nr berol passages
he clepJor edt hc f iilt r r c ol ar t is. r Ds
to
his c ont em p o ra ri e si n F ra n c ea n d l ta l t; b ut underl vi nghi s atten- It'arn fi-om rvhat rvasknou n about thc matrria]s anclphenomena
t ion t ( ) t he m o s t n ri n u te d e ta i l sa n c lp robl emsu,asa comprehcn- thcv ust' din daill'pr act icc.All pur posiveact ion, he m aint aincd,
s iv e c loc t ri n ei n c o rp o ra ti n gth e s ma l l estdetai l sand di ffi cul ti cs shoul dbc subor dinat et o it s associat edscir : ncc.I I c h. r dcont em pt
of phvsicsand mctaphvsics.Yct his ambition to achi<:r'e
mastery l br techniquer lit hout under st (
anding 1, 195)and invent or sr ''it h
ofthc natural rvorld scemsalm()stm(xlestin comparisonrvith his out meth od ( X, 180) anr l r vascxt r em elv r var v ol ar t isansu'h<r
dreams:to rL'storesight to the blind, to vie\i the animalson the rcfi rsedto t ake his clir ect ions( 1, 501,506) . f hc m ost signif icant
m oon ( i1 a n t), to ma k c me n rri s e a n d happy through medi ci ne, passages in this regardare to be fbund in thc Ru/crfor thc Dircc-
to llv like a bircl. Nledicalobserv.rtionsare scatteredthroughout tion (t tfu tllind. [:rom thc outsct, I)cscartescontraststhe diversit\
his *or k . H e c o n l e s s e dto th e Ma rq u essof N eucastl e that the of tcchnologicalskills uit h t he unit v of t hcor ct ic: alundcr st and-
primarvpurposeol his stuclieshaclalrvaysbeen to presenehealth,l ing and proposesusingtheorv t() achicvctotal knou lcdge.As each
and hc probabll bclir:r'cd,as Constantijn I luvgcnsrcportcd, that acqui si ti ono1 t r r r t h bccom csa r ule of m et hocl,t hought nr r xt s
" t hat v t ' x i n gc u s to m ,d e a th ,* i l l o n c d a v di sappcar"(l l , 550). I{i s lnrm truth to truth, :ln(l it therebvacquiresthe abilitv to act rt li-
t ec hnic alp re o c c u p a ti o n sw i th o p ti c s c a n be l i rund i n hi s corres- abl v and c f licient lv. . l his abilit v is t hc r csult of a susr ainecl
ar t en-
pondc nc crv i th D a v i d F e rri e r(1 5 2 9 -1 6 3 8)as rvel las i n the Opti cs. ti vL' ncsst hat t hc speci. r lizedar t isan,I im it cd nnd pnr t inl in his
As fbr his rcscarchand cxpcrimcnts rvith mar:hincrv,apart fiom vi cl s, set 'ksin r t r in t o achicvc.I n Rule Five,l) escar t esm cnt ions
the f:rrit'ltrt'atiscon lifiing cngincsrvrittcn fbr Iluvgcns in 1637, nm()ngthe illt r sionst hat his r llet hod t enclst o clim inat e t hat ol
*c havconlt Adricn Baillet'saccountof t)escartes's relationsw.ith peoyrlervho "stu<lv nrcclranicsapart fr()m phvsic.san<l,r,r,ithout
, e k i n g ' s e n g i n e e r(1 , 2 0 9, 214, 218). B .ri l l etl i sts
V illebr ess i e uth anv propcr plan, constructn( w instruDteDts. . . ."1Counteringsuch
t hos c of V i l l c b rc s s i c u ' si n v c n ti o n sa l l e g cdl y< l ucto suggesti ons prcsumption is tlris a<lmirablcaffirmation <tt Principlcs ol Philoso-
fiom Dcscartes:a \latcr llump, a * hcr:lcdbridgc fbr usc in attack- phr' : " i \l l t he r t r lesol N4echanics
belong t o Phvsics,so t hat . r ll
, p o rta b l c fb l d i n g b o a t f i rr crossi ngri versand a
ing f br t r c s s c s a I thi ngs tha t ar e ar t ilicial ar c also nar ur al" ( lX, l2l) . Th. r t is uhv
$agon c ha i r fi rr th c tra n s p o rt o f rv o u n declsol di ers.Thi s bri cf
risumi of l)cscartes'stc'chnologicalinterests,insignificantthough
it mav sct:m, is nt'vertheless\\,orth remcmbcring bccauseit uas -l
I "onc must lirst cxplain tr'hatthe la.rr.s ol natureart .rnrlh()u nrtturc
ttsuallvbehavesbcfirreonc can leach lrorv those laus can be madc
to pr(xl uceunusualcf f cct s"( ll, 50) . - li, <louit hout r r n<lcr st . r nr ling

7 zc)
II
the rvhv of w hat he is dc'ing is the lot of the mere technician.To cal : " One can indeed m akc a m achinet hat sust ainsit self in t he
promise rvithout pcrfbrming is the definition of the charlatan. loquendo,for birds themselvcs,in mv
air like a bird, metaphtisice
'Ib obtain effectsat rvill through understancling
oftheir causesis opinion at any rate, are such machincs, but not ph.vsice or moraliter
the ambition of I)escartes.We learn what is technologicallvpos- logucndo, becausc it would require springs so light yet so pou'cr-
sible bv studving rvhat is theoretically necessary.
Thus fhr, there l i rl that hum anscould not m anuf act ur ct hem " ( lll, 163) .
is nothing in Descartes's
philosophy conccrning technology that Descartesnever explained his thinking about the diflerence
does not seem obvious, if bv obvious ue mean something that tretueen scienceand construction, two human activities that his
hasbecome familiar ovling to modern philosophy'slong-standing philosophvseemsto suggestnot only stem liom a common source
intcrcst in a themc that, from da Vinci to the Encyclopedistson but arc convertiblc,in thc scnscthat knorvledgecan be converted
to AugustcComtc and Karl Marx, becamea standardtopos. into construction. Hence, it is up to us to clari[v his meaningb,v
In [)escartes's
thinking, howevcr,thcre rvcreimportant restric- l ooki ng at t he t ext s and com par ingvar iousst r andsof his t hink-
tions on the conversionofknou.ledge into action. I)escartcssaw i ng. D c scar t esm aint ained t hat onc should bc able t o deduce
obvious "difficulties" in moving from theorv to practice rvhich empirical rcsults from intuitive principles that he callcd "sceds
not cvcn pcrfcct intelligence could resolvebv itself. Evengiven absolute]natures."An effect
of truth" or "simplc [or occasionally,
perfectknowledge,the technologicalembodimcnt of that knowl- harl not been explaincd,hc hcld, unt il one could sayhor v bv an
edge would in some casescontain inevitable imperfections, No act of God it m ight havebeen m ade dif f er ent br lt no lt : ssint t : lli-
Archimedeanmirror, even one polishcd by an angel, could burn gible. The celebratedpassageof Part Six of thc Discourse on the
an object a leagueaw,ayunlcss it rvere made extremelv large (1, in u'hich thc impossibilityof completelvdeducingelfects
.l4ethor1
109). Evcn ifan angel were to give instructions,basedon theory, liom causesleadsto acknorvledgmentof the need to "jtrdgc thc
for building a stcclyardbalancecapableof rveighingobjects up causesin terms of their ef]ects" clearly inrlicatesthat technologi-
to two hundred pounds,"it is almost impossibleto be so precise callv usefirl "forms or tvpes of bodies" mav bc impcdiments tcr
in all as pc c tso f c o n s tru c ti o n th a t th e re shoul d be no fi ul t i n rnal vti c dcduct ion. Fr om f ir st causcs,t hc scient istcan deduce
t he s c ale,a n c lth u s p ra c ti c c rv i l l d i s c re d i ttheory" (11,.{59).The "the heavens,the stars,an earth, and even, on earth, \\'atcr, air,
instrument must thcrcforc be calibrated empirically, Descartes l i re and m iner als, " t hat is, "or dinar v ef 'f ect s, ""com m on and
rccommends. Five vearsafter formulating a theorv of lenses,he simplc things." But rvhcrcasscicncc trcats matter as homogene-
$,rote Marin Mersennethat in lensmakingthe gap between the- ous and r vit hout dist inct iveident it y, t he t echnician,r r . hor elat es
orv and practicc was so grcat that thcoretical perfection could mattcr to "ot r r use of it , " t r eat s it as par t icular and divcr sc -
nev c r bc a c h i e v e d(l l l , 5 8 5 ). N o tc th a t thc threc cxampl esdi s- hence thc need lbr experimcntal trial and crror. I'he passagein
cusscdthus far - mirrors, lcnsesand scales- involve the theo- thc l)iscourse
in rvhich Descartesprocee'cls from theorv to tech-
ries ol optics and levers,u'hich were among thc earliestsuccesses nologv is greatly elucidatcd, I thinL, L)vanother passage, rlris onc
ol Cartesianscience.Evenmore explicitly, Descartesheld that if from the Prncrplesot' Pbilotoph.r, u.hich proceeds in the other
men could not fly, the problem was not theoretical but practi- di recti o n, f r om t echnologvt o t he( ) r \ ':

2)J
"the occasion"fbr thr'orctical
\lcch.rnics
l\lerlir:inc, an<1. in gt ner.rl,all thc artsin w hich knrnrltdge Pt rfections crftechnoio{v provide
rrf physicsrnal bc usclulfravebut onegoal:to applvscnsitive tndics researchai med at r csolving "dif licult ies. " Science,t her ef or e,
1) onc .rn()thcr in suchJ \'iv that,o\\ ing to natrrralcauses, \cntible grows out of technology,not in thc scnsethat the true is a codi-
ciii crsar. ploduced.In tlrisue do just as\vcll il rhc scrir\ ol ca(ses lication ofthe useful,a rccorrl ofsuccess,but, r,rthtr, in the sense
a si fi t .l 1 e rc
r husinag i n c di s f,rl s e tru c ,s i n ccthr scri esi s supposcd that technologicalobst.rclcs,sctbacksand failures lead to qucs-
t o bc s im i l a ri n s o l a a
r si ts s c n s i b l e l l i c tsa reconccrncd
(l X . 122). tions about the nature ol thc resistanceencountered by human
arr. Obstacl c st o pr ogr essar e sc( n t ( ) I >eindependentol ht r m an
I1, in manv ca\es,practice "discredits thcory," it is bccause"any desirts,anclthis leadsto a searchfbr-trueknorvlcdgc.Scicncemav
applicationof sensitivebodiesto one anothcr,"or. in other n'ords, l rter cl ai m to im posc discipline on t echnologiesbor n r vit hout
anv t ec hnica ls y n th e s i srv
r i J ln o rm a l l y i n c l ude unprecl i ctabl and
e permi ssi onl rom any t heor ist . But \ r 'her cdo such t echnologies
un.rnti(ipatc(l .'tfects,given that ue are norkirrg .rvithsubstanccs ori{inateTNot in the l.rculty of un<lerstandinq,
although that fac-
about r v hic h n o t c v c rrth i n gc a n b e d e d u c e d. ulft might cnable learned mcn to surpass"the ordinarv artisan"
Descartesalsobclievcdthat knorvledgeand construction were (V l l , 227), but , r at her ,in t he exigenr : ics
of / / c. Thus Descnr t es,
r c lar qi in an ()th e rra \i h o w e rc n th i n g s cotrl < lbc bui l r rvi thout sho had l onl dr e. r m edol an inlallible nr edicalscjence,lelt an
knolr'leclgeof the theorv ofhorv thcr rvorkcd, anclrhis in turn urgentnced l br it r vhenhis hair beg. r nt o t ur n r vhit c ( 1, 43 5 ) and
c ould pr ov id c th c o rc ti c a lr)p p o rru n i ri e sThi
. s, I thi nk, i s the l es- hc sensedthat deathmight deprivehirn ofthc "more than cenrur\'-
son ol the Oprrcr'"hen reread in tht' light of thc problcm that old hope" that justilied his concernrvith his bodv (1, 507). Befbre
concernsus herc. Optical thcory bcganu'ith thc invention ofthe he coulcl u rite the Oprics,moreover.his failin11cycs rvhich rvere
m agnit v ingg l a s s ,w h i c h i n i ti a l l y u a s th e f i ui t of tri al and error, easilvdeceivedhad intcrferr,'drvith his abilitv to pcrceive uselul
and luc k . l' h a r i n i ri a l s u c c e s sw a s l a tc r b li ndl r copi cd. Y ct the rhi n{s. S i nce"le cannotnr akeour selvesa neu body" ( VI I , 148) ,
nt's inventionstill sufleredliom manv deflciencics,.rndDcscartes \1'eInust au{n1entour internal orq.rnsrvith cxternai orgnns(Vil,
belic v c d in t h c n e t' d fb r s c i e n ti l l c s ru d v o l rvhat consri tureda 148; and supp lcm entout nat ur alones wit h ar t if icial ones ( Vll,
good lens. I le proposedto (leducethe propershapeof lensesfrom 165). 1'he impetus to creire new technologicsstcms fiom man's
t hc lar r so1' l i q h t.T h u s , a p L rl c l l fo rru i ro u stcchnol ogi caldi scov- neecls,appetitesand wi)l 1lX, Principles of Philovpfir.,123). In his
er v lr r ov idc d th < :o c c a s i o nfb r " ma n t g o o d mi n< l sto fi nd out a theorv of tht' union of sor.rland brxlv, l)escar-res rvascareful to
num ber of d ri n g s a b o u t o p ti c s " (V II, 8 2 ) . In parti cul ar,i t pro- cmP hasi ze the ir r educibilit r of t he em ot ions,and in his t heor v of
v ided Des c a rre s$ i th th e " o p p o rtu D i t! to uri te thi s treati se" crror he stressedthe primal importanceofthe u ill. 1'heseempha-
( v ll. f t 2, 159 ). scssuggesttha t he believcdt hat lif e. uhosc philosophvconsist s
According to the Optr..r,knorvlcdgeof naturcdcpcnclson tech- in the desireto live rvell, cannot be apprehendc<l jn lqnns ofpur.
nologt in t \ \' o \v J v s .F i rs r, te c h n o l o g r p ro vi desi D stt-uments.
in understandi n galone, t har is, r vit hin a slst em ol pur elv int eJlec-
t his c as et he n ra g n i fl i n gg l a s s ,th a t l e a d to thc di scovervol new tual j udgnr(nr s. Thus, t he convict ion t hat r echr , iogv cannot be
phen( ) m c n,(rV l l ,8 1 ,2 2 6 ). Sc c o n <al n d morc i mportant, thc i m- reducedto scienceand constructioncannot bc rtrluccd to trnclcr-

))\
s t andin g ,to g e th c r \1 i th th e c o n v e rs ebcl i efthat thc uhol e edi - The Theory of the Animal-Machine
f ic c of s c i e n c cc a n n o t s i mp l t b e c o n vertedi nto acti on, comcs thcory of the anintal-m.rchine is instTarablt'li"om
Ill2] t)escartes's
do$n t o a b c l i e l i n th e e x i s te n c eo f a uni quc " porvcr." l .i bcrtl his lamoustlicttrm, "l think, therefbrc I am." The radicaldistinc-
and n il l a re n o t s u b j e c t to th e s a m el i mi tati ons as i ntcJl i gcncc, ri on bct \ acensot r lan<lbodv, t hought and cxt cnsion,im plics t lr e
not onlr,in thc human mind but alsoin God, For l)cscartcs,tech- substantialunitl ol matter, \'\'hatcvcrits lbrm, anrl thought, uhat-
nologv $as alwaysto some degreen svnthetic and, as such, un- cver i ts f unct ion. l Sincc judgm ent is t hc soul's onlv f unct ion,
analvzablelbrm of action, but I do not bclicvc that he viervedit there is no reasonto bclieve in the cxistcnccof an "animal soul,"
c()nsequentlvas unimportant; rathcr, hc sarvit asa lirtm of crca- since animals,berefi ol languagcand invention, shor, no sign ol
t ion, t h o u g h a d mi ttc d l v a n i n fi ri o r o ne. bci ng c apableof judgm ent . a
If the fbregoinganal,vsis is correct, one (luestion remainsun- The denial t hat anim alsposscsssouls ( or t he f icult v of r ea
ansrvcrt:d:Why is thcrr.:no theory ofcreation in Descartes'sphi- son) doesnot im plv t hev ar c dcvoid ol lif e ( def inc<l. 1swar m t h in
los ophrl C )r, to p u t i t a n o th e r u ' a v ,r vhv i s therc no acstheti cs? rhe hca r t ) or sensibilit v( insof ir as t he scnsor vf ict r lt ies depenr J
()l course,it is difllcult to dra* anv conclusion rvhatsocvcrliom ,rn the disposit ionof t he or gans) . 5
an absence- but there arc groundsfbr askinglr.hethcr l)(:scartcs Tht s.rnrelcttcr I citecl abovc rtvcals one ol tht mor,ll under-
nr ight n r)t h a rc l e l t a n o b s c u res e n s et hat admi rri ng the possi bi )- Dcscar t st t lr r eslor
;ri nni ngsol- t he t heor v of t he anim al- m achine.
it r ol a g e n c ra l J e s th e ti c smi g h t h a vecontradi cted hi s general ,rni nra lsr . lr lt Ar ist ot lc r li<llbr slaves:lr e r lt v, r luist hem in or der
t he< , , r\.[o r l )r' s c a rte sth
. e i n te l l i g i b il i tv ol real i tr deri l ed from t{) i ustil\ using t hcnr , ls inst r um cnr s."l\ 1r opinion is t r o m or e
m c c han i c sa n < lm a th c mn ti c a lp h v s i c s.Irrrrhi nr, movenrent,al ong cruel to anim alst han it is ovcr lv piot r st ot r . r r clt lt n, f r cccllr om
s it h ex te n s i c rna n c ln u mb e r, u a s a l u ndarnental ,i nrui ti vc con- th< sup <r st icionscr l t he Pvt hagor eans,lr ec. r use it alr sr t lvest henr
c ept of n h i c h i r rrts s a l eto n c g l c c t a l l qual i tati vcanrl svnrheti c of chc h inr of <r 'im c r vhenever t hcv cat r r r l. ill . r nit n. r ls.St
" r r pr is-
aspccts.Anrl althoughhc sa\l.movementas thc sourceol all nrate- inglr',*e finclthc samcrrgument stood on its hcltl in .r lettcr ti<rnr
rial varietr',he simultaneouslrprecludedhimself from nising tlre Lei bni z t o Conr ing: if r vc m ust look upon anim alsls sonr t t hing
issueofdiversiflcation,u'hich is one aspcctof thc pr-oblcmol cre- morc th an m achines,t hen wc shoulclbecom e Pvt hagor e. r ns. r n, l
ation. As wc knorl from the Discoursc on thc .Itethod,he candidlv at t it ude is r vpic. r l, r i
gi l e up our dom inion over t he be. r st s. 6'l- his
h
adm it t c d th a t g .o m c tri c a n a l v s i s a cli ts l i mi ts, but he mav not \\t ster n nr an. The t hcor ct ical m cchanizat ionol lile is inst par -
havcrvishcdto ackno* lcrlgc,or admit to himsell, that the impos- abl c l i om t he t echnologicalut ilizat ion ol t he aninr al.N4anc. r n
s ibilit v o f a " d e fi n i ti v e " n ro ra l i ty(s i n ceacti on normal ]vi nvol ves cl ai m p ossession
ol and m ast er vover nat ur c onlr bv denling t hat
des ir ea n c lri s k ) a l s o i mp l i e d th e i m p ossi bi l i tvof a " del l ni ti ve" naturehasanv pur posein it st : lf ,anclt hen onlv bv r cgar dingall ol
analvtic science(as he * ished lris ou n to bc). ["])escartes," Ira- naturc ot her t han him self - even t hat u hich appcar st o be ani-
r aur , pp . 7 9 -8 5 ] matc - asa meansto an (:n(1.
S uc h an at t it ude just ilied t he const r uct ion ol a m echanical
mo< l elof t hc living bodv, incluclingt he hunr anbodr ' - lir r Dcs-

220 2)7
ca rtes, thc hum an bodv , if not m an h i m s e l f , r v a s a m a c h i n e . construction of the animal-machinethat models their behavior.
Dcscartes fbund the mechanical model he rl'as looking fbr in In other rvords,in order to undcrstandthe animal-machine,one
au toma ta, or m ov ing m ac hines . T must th ink of it aspr cceded,in t he logicalas\ 4ellast he chr ono-
ln order to bring out the fLll significance of Descartes's the- logical scnse,by God, as efficient cause,and bv a preexistingliv-
orv, Iet us turn now to the bcginning ofthe Ireotise on Man, a ing thing, as formal and flnal cause.In short, I propose to read
rvork first published in I.cydcn in 1652 in the fbrm ofa Latin the theorr of thc animal-machine,rvhich is gcneralll interPrctcd
co pv a nd only lat c r publis hed in t he o r i g i n a l F r e n c h , i n 1 6 5 4 . asinvolving a brcak u,ith the Aristotelian conccPt trl causalitY,as
He rvrote therc: one in \\'hich all the types ofcausality that Aristotle invokescan
be foun<|,but not simultaneoushand not rvhcreAristotle u'ould
Thcsc men rvill be composed, as we are, o1 a soui and a body. First haveplacedt hem .
I must describethe bodv on its orvn, then the soul, againon its own; -fhc text cxplicitly statesthat thc construction ol the living
and linallv I must shorr how these two naturcs woulcl have to be machinc is to mimic that of a preexistingorganism.The mechan-
joined and united in ordcr to constitute men who rcscmble us. ical modcl assumesa livc original. Hence, Dcscartesin this text
I supposethe body to bc nothing but a statueor machine made mav be closert o Ar ist ot le t han t o Plat o.The Plat onicdcm iur ge
ol earth, u'hich God lbrms rvith the explicit intention ofmaking it as copies Ideas.The Idea is a modcl of rvhich the nattrralobject is
much as possiblelikc us. Thus God not onlv gives it externally the a copt.'l'he CartesianGod, ArtiJexmatimus,trics to equal the liv-
colors and shapcsofall the partsofour bodies,but also placcsinsirle ing thing itself.The living machineis modcled on the living thing.
it all the parts requiretl to make it walk, eat, breathe,cnabling it to Thi nk of appr oxim at inga cir cle by m eansof a ser iesof inscr ibed
imitatc all those lunctions rrhich seem to procced from matter and polvgons,each with one morc vcrtex than the prccc<lingone: in
to clependsolely on the intcracting movementsofthe organs. order to conccive of the passagefiom polygon to circle, onc has
We sec clocks,artificial fbuntains,mills and other such machines to imagine extending this seriesto inflnitv. Mcchanical artiflce
rvhich, although man-rna<le,seem to movc of their orvn accord in is inscribed in life in thc same\\'ay: in order to imagine the pas-
various rvars;but I anr supposing this machine to bc made by the sagefiom one to the other, onc has to imagine an cxtrapolation
handsofGod, and so I think vou may reasonablvrhink it capableof to infiniti-, that is, to God. This is rr,hatDcscartesappearsto mean
a greater variety ol movcments than I couid possibly imagine in it, bv the final remarksof the above quotation. Hence, the theorv
and of exhibiting more artistrv than I could possiblyascribeto it.8 of the animal-machineis to life asa sct of postulatcsis to geom-
etrv, that is, a mere rational reconstructionthat onl,vpretendsto
Re ad ing t his t c x t as naiv elv as I pos s i b l y c a n , I c o m e t o t h e ignore thc existenceof lvhat it is supposedto representand the
conclusion that thc theorv of the animal-machinc makes sense prioritv of production over rational justification.
only by virtuc of trvo hypotheses that oftcn receive less emphasis This featureof Descartes's theorv was clearlvperceived,more-
than they are clue. The first is that God the fabricator exists, and over,b\ a contemporarvanatomist,thc celebratcdNicolausSteno,
the second is that the existence ofliving things must precede the 'who dclivere<f a Dissettationon the Anatom.yoJ the Brain in Paris

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It is undeniablvtrue that certain biological mechanismsserve
ol the i n st r um cnr . r l Secondis t he posit ion of t he pineal glan<l
certain purposes.To take an example rhat mechanisticbio)ogists
i n tcl ,rtion t o t he br ain, t ogct her r i. ir h r h( st ar eof t hc glan( l's
often cite, corrsiclerthe broarleningof thc fi,male pelvis prior to
ourcr surfaceiDescartesdcvotcda greatdcal of tjme to thc rlfects
birth. Given that the fetus is l-1.5 centimeterslargerthan the pel-
of thc rvill, m cm or v, im aginat ion and cont m on senseon t hcse
lic opening,birth would be impossibleil'a relaxationof the pubic
vari .rbl c 5. r The
a inst inct s ar c t he r hir d and last lict or allcct -
symphvsesanrJa po51s .. m,rvementofthc sacrococc;gianbone
ing the animal spirits. To understanriu.hat Descartcsmeant bv
clid not increasethc diameter of thc apertur.e.6ivcn a phenome-
i n.ti rt, t., r cr all hir r jist intt i, - r nbct r r eenr xr t r nt l m ovem ( n( \ an( l
non r v bos eh i o l o q i c a l p u rp o s ei s s o c l e ar, one can Jr:gi ti matel y j nternal nr ovem cnt s,or passions- IEr t t er nal m ovcm ent scan be
refuseto believc that the mechanismthat makcs it possible(and
lirrther brokcn dorvn: rbey arc either expressivc(laughingor crv,
that is essentialfor it to occur) hasno biologicalpurpose.A mech-
i ng, for cxanr ple) ,and t hus pur elv cir cunr st ant ial,or adalt t ive,
anism is a nccessarl sequcnce of operations, and to verifi, the
that i s, " u sef ir lf or pur st r inpr icsir ablet hinqsor , r r oiding har nr f l)
prescnceofa mechanism,one must detcrmine u,hat ellcct those on(.s,"1r, which is to lbllou"'thc iD.rrrn.f.r of our nature."tr Thus,
opcrationsproducc. In other words, one must find out what the
krl l )estar t es,t hc phvsiologicalm cchilnismt hat dct cr m ir ecl t he
intended purposeof the mechanismis. The shapcand structure
di srri burionol aninr alspir it scm an, r t in{f iom t he br ajn dt pcnded
of a machine tell us about its use only if we alreadv knou, how
on rl hat can only be callcd a biologicalt clcologr ( t he pur suit of
ntachint'sol similar shapcand structureilrc used.Hence, we must desi rabl tt hingsan<lt lr e avoidanccof har m lul ones) .This r r asnot
find out horv a machinc rvorks in ordt,r to deduce its function
a l a;rse.O t hcr . sim ilar exam plcscan l>elbr ind clser vher ein t hc
liom its strucrure. lConnaissance,
p- llsl Tteetise
on,{|on. ln the P m.tecogitdtionescirca oni-
llcncrctionem
rnalium, I)escartes invokes the connodo and incomrll,o<!o nltLtrdc
The Distinctiveness of the Animo!-Machine ascauscso f var iousaninlalm ovcm ent s,t he m cchanisntof t vhjch
[84] Descartesbegan bv attempting to forrnulateu,hat he him- i s crpl ai n cd in t cr m s of anim alspir it s. r rM ar t ial G ucr oult , m or e-
s ell c alled a " th c o rl o l n re d i c i n e ," I th a t i s, a purel y \pccul ati ve ort r, has poir r t edout t he r em ar kabJcsignilicanceol t h<,. lir r h
anat om ic . aal n d p h v s i o l o g i c a ls c i c n c e a s ri gorous and exact as l,lcditotion.
mathem.rticalphysicsand.justasreccptiveto conversioi into prac- To sum up. l)cscarresdistinguishcdthrce rvpesof fictors influ-
tical rpplicarions,or therapies.Bur rvhat rvasto be deducedliom encing thc flou of aninralrpirits: erterDnlan<lcontingent lictors
the phvsicsof the humarrbodv, namely,a determination of,.vital
lscttsoryexcirations),acquirtrl and individual factors (menrorv)
utility," lvasin fhct present from the beginning in the subjcct's and naturalanclspecil) c lict or s ( inst inct s) .ln t his he shor r eda
principfes.ll:ormationdu riflete, p. 531 remarkablealer t nesst o t he biological phenom enon, r f int er ac-
[ 85] A c c o rd i n g ro D e s c a rte s th
, c d i stri buti on of rhe spi ri ts tion betlvccn organism and environm(,nt.
lf:ormotion<lurdflcrc,
upon leaving the brain depen<ison severallactors. First are thc
P P .l r-l2 l
ctlects ofobjects that stimulate the senses,or excitations,which
[86] A vit alist pr inciple of sor t s r hus r em air cd par t of t he
Descartescomparesto thc fingersof an organisttouching the keys explanation of movcmcnrs thar, according to thc original
proj-

112
1l )
cct, lvere to bc cxplained exclusivelvin tcrrns of material la,,vs. to tell the time than it is firr a trcc rvhich grerv from this or that
Gucroult is correct, then, rvhenhe saysthat l)escartcsbeganlvith sccd to procluccthe ipProPriatc lrrrit-"15But mav \\'e not reverse
a conceptioDof medicinc as purc phvsicsrvhich he later rejected, the ord cr of t his r elat it >nand savt hat \ \ 'hat everis n. r t t t r , r l.t hat is,
and, firrthcr, that "one ol his chief rcasonslbr confessingthe hil- in t hc anim al or ganismis also ar t ilici, ll, given t hat
i nech.r nic. r l,
ur t ' ol his n e d i c a l p ro j e c t rv a sh i s g rrt rri ng convi cti on that me- anim.rl-machincs,'tre itrtontittonsconstnlcted,asit lrerc, br (lod?
c h,rnicalconcepts rlonr: r,r'ouldncvcr suffice to cre.rter mcdical r\nd i n const r uct ing t hcse m achines,cliclCiod not lllor iclc f ir r
s c ic nc cbe c a u s ec h eh u m a ni ro < l vi s n rrt p urr c\ten!i on but i n part indilir iLr at ior, r nt lr epr r xlr t ct ionllr t nct hlnical
th(i r conscr \ ', r t ion,
. r ps r c hop h v s i c asl u b s ta n c c ." r'F)o l l rx v i ngC ueroul t, perhaps,but mcans?ln ot her \ vof ds,\ vct c not ccr t ain t elcologicalcnds incor -
m or c hol< l l r'I, u o u l d a s k .rv h e th eth r e J ttcnrpt to rcducc ani mal
poratedinto the assemblage of nlechanicalparts?Sincethoseencls
biologr tt.rmechanicsdid not revealthe resistanceof vital phe- surpassour undcrstanding,holr'cvcr,cannot ancl:houlcl not the
nomena to lirll cxprcssionin mechanicaltt'rms. I carlier alluded in
' living t hings leavet hem out ol it s acc<lt t nt l'Tht t s,
sci cnc r .of
to thc passagcin the Prrntaeco{lit.rtionesin \\ hich comrnodaand posi ti n gm echanic. rcquivalcnt
l slbr living t hings, Descar t esban-
incommodordtllr.rc\rere secn to influence the movementsofor- ishc<ltcleologv liorn the rcalm ol human lino* ledgc onl\' to rcin-
ganic par ts a n d e v e n e n ti re o rg a n i s m s .roTruc. D escartes,* ho statei t in t hc ( im m t r lir t elv f ir r got t cn)r ealmo1divinr 'lno'vlcdge.
pr ided hi n rs e l l o n t' x p l a i n i n g * h a t rre rroul tl crl l rhc narural 11,rnorcovcr,a p.rorlv madc clock obcls thc samel,l\!s ()1nlc-
nppet ir eso r i n c l i n a ti o n so f a n i m a l s" s ol el r i n tt-rnrsof thc rul es chani csas r r lcll- m at le one, so t hat t he onlr r val t o dist inguish
of m ec han i c s p o i n fe d o u r th a t " brutt' s haveno knou,l - bcnvecn t ht t \ \ 'o is t o in\ lr le "t hc m aker 'sr lcsir e"r nt l "t ht 't t se
" ;,rn ,," l l
edgeof rl hacis a<lvant.rgeous or harmful" - nrcaningthat they are l br rvhich t lr . 'nr . r kerir lt endc( l"lqhis cr t . r t ionr ,it loll<r r vs
t h. r t , r nr
nor conscilrLrso1 such thingsor ablc to .rrticultrtesuch knou.lcdge, uorking m.rchincis .rn asstnrblagcol partscttrbodling i P(trll()se.
so thit !r hat r,tcobserveis sintpl\ an associ.rtionbetrveencertain t hat <lic
W hat d cf inest he t n, r chineis not t hc laus of m r 'ch. r nics
rnovementsand ccrtaincventsthnt enablcanimdlsto grolr'.21 Here, tatc ho r l it wor ls but t he pur Posef ir r r r hich it u'r s bLr ilt .I f an
horvever,r,r'crouch on vvhatis probablv the limit of mechanistic ani mal t hat livt 'sin t his *or ld is alsoa nr achinc,it nlust [ r t 't hc
ex planat i o n ,fb r. th e th re e a s p c c tso f a ni mrl l i l e and dcvcl op- embod im ent ol sonr cpur pose.Thc t act t hr t t hc pur poseclucles
ment - consenation,individuationand rcproductionl) - point to both tl r e anim al'sn\ r ar eness does not
and hum an unclcr st ancling
a distinctire dif'ferencebctrvccnanimal-machint's and mcchanical al ter rhis st at c ol all. r ilsin anv lindam ent . r l \ \ 'a\ , lr ) r r ) t her \ \ 'ise
onts. To be surc, l)cscartescontinuallv insistcdon the identit,vof l no dilli'r cnct 'bct uccr - rt he living aninr . r anr
thcre v voulr l>c l l t he
t he t \ \ o t v p (' so f ma c h i n e :" Si n c c a rt c o pi cs nature. and peop)e <lcaclanimaf, bcrrlrt'n orrrctfurrircnrium antl tJactclio ortuorunl.
c an nr ak e v a ri o u sa u trrma to n srth i c h m ol e rri thout thrrught, i t olgan-
C uerc,ulr ,I t hinL. r r . r scle. r r lr. r lat e t h. lr il. ir ) ct . , nsit lcling
seenrsr<asonable
that nature shou]<lcvcn pr-crduce
irs own autom- i sms,rv eabsr r ltt t r om all t elcologicalconsir ltr . r t ions,r r r ganisnr s
atons,rlhich arc much more splendidth.rn,tttilici.rl,rncs- namelr,, (ci sc to b( int livisibleent it icsr "lf \ \ 'c r cm ole onc hoof lr om a
the animal5."ll Another passage
expresses the sameirlca:"lt is no horse,doesit bccom c l, . r ss'hor selikc't h.ot r nht 'r lt ot ser l"l'-Anr l il,
lessnatural 16ra clock constnrctcdrvith this or that set of rvhcels i n the spt cial caseof nr an.t her c is no r r ir v t o avoi<lr cc( ) ur set ( )

211 r lt
"God's transcendentpurpose,namely,that the lau'sofmechanism C g ,q l r r n EL L vIN
alone should sufficc to engenderand preservemachines whose
parts are arrangedso as to firlfill the requisite conditions for a Auguste Comte
union of bodv and soul, that is, a relation of meansto end"18-
does this not implv, then, asGueroult suggests,that if rve assume
rhat machineslack this "same organizationand interdependence
of partsand whole,"zewe must acceptan "incomprehcnsibledivi-
sion" betu.eenmen and animals?Indeed, without such interde-
pcndence,u hich allorvsa mechanicalrelation ofstructure to be
transformedinto a teleologicalrelation of fitnessfor purpose,the
indivisible functional unitl' of thc organismbecomesinconceiv-
able. Thc inc om prehensibledivision is tolerable only when pre-
The Montpellier School
sente(lasan "unf;thomable mystery"that situatesman in relation
[87] Afier being banishcdto Nlontpellier fbr his role in the clos-
to Godrs\i,isdom.lo
ing ofthe EcolePolvtechnique,AugusteComte took courscsat the
In short, onlv a metaphvsiciancould have set fbrth the prin-
of Medicine, u'here Paul-josephBarthezhad taught until
Facr,rlt,v
ci p l e sof a m ec hanis ti cb i o l o g v rv i th o u t fa l l i n g a t once i nto con-
his death ten yearsprior to Comte'sarrival.Thc man r" ho actually
tradiction (contradictionthat must in any caseemergein the end).
introducedthe fathcro1positivismto biology uas Henry DucrotaY
Fervhistoriansol biologv havenoticcd this, and eren fewerhistori-
de Blainville,a former professorat the Musdumand the Sorbonne.
cally minded biologists. It is more regrettablc that philosophers
I l avi ng mct hi m at Claude Hcnr i de Saint - Sim on's,Com t c at -
havemaric the samemistake. lFormationdu rdflere,pp. 54-56]
tended Blainville'scoursc in generaland comparativephvsiology
fiom 1829to 1832.He admiredhis teacher'sencvclopcdicknor"l-
edge and svstematic mind. The Cours de philosophicpositive \\'as
in fact dedicatedto Blainville and Charlcs Fourier, and its fbrti-
eth l essoni s fi rl l of pr aisc f br Com t e'ser st r vhilet eacher[.. . . ]
In portravingthe erasthat prececledthe adventof the positivt:
spirit in philosophv,Comte Iikecl to sketch thc historv of biol-
ogv in broad strokes,dralr,ingon a keen awarcnessol the intcr-
relatedness of biological discovcricsthat hc took from Blainville's
lecturcs. A striking example can be found in the fifty-sixth les-
son of the Cours,rvhich concernsthe naturalistsoIthe eighteenth
century.l lC omt e excelledat giving sum m ar vdcscr ipt ionsof t he
contributions ofvarious scicntistsand at rveighingtheir relative

216
217
im por t ance .An ro n g th o s c n h o m h e s i n gl edout as prccursorsof metaphvsical stateof PhvsiologY"'meintaineclth.rt Barthez's"r'ital
positivism rlcrc Hippocrates,Barthez,Bich.rt,Johann Friedrich st at eof Ph) siolog\ lar t hcr
pri nci plc" point cd t o "a n. r ct aphlsical
N'lcckel,Lamarck and, of course, Claude Bernard. Ihc range of remoreclfiom the thcological state tlran the lbrmulation uscd bv
the citations provcsthat Comte uas genuinclv learncdin the sub- Stahlassume<|." Unlike so manl ol his ou n contcmporarir:sand scr
ject, rvhencethc cascvvith rvhich he attaincd.rloftl rtrntageliom manl ol Barthcz's,Comte rcfuscd to bc misleclbv a mere change
rvhich he uas able to concciv(:of the history ofsciencc a\ a crfticd.l of tcrminologv.Hc did not believet hat Bar t hezhad m er clv sub-
historv,that is, a historv not onlv oricntcd torvarclthe presentbut sritutcd a ne\\' namc fbr l hat Stahl had called "thc soul." On this
juclgedagainstthc norms ol'the present.Thtrs, in the fortv-third point, hc nraclea prolbund anclPerrincnt remark: "For so chimer-
lcssonComte's account of the controversvbetrveenmechanists ical an ortlcr of idcas,such a chanqc in terminologv alrvavsincli-
. r nd v it alis ts u a s p l a n n e d to rc v c a l th e "obvi ousl v progressi ve cntcsan aut hent icm odif icat ion ol dr e cent r al idea. "
intent" ol'the N'lontpellicrvitalists,especialllBarthezand Bichat, Barthez'sinvaluablehistorian,his fiienclJacqut:sLordat, points
rr.hoscuork llas so unjustlv clecriedat the timc in Paris.Ifrudes, out that Albr echt von Hallclr vas pr im ar ilv r csponsiblef ir r t he
pp.62- 631 mi si ntc r pr et at ion t hat Com t c avoided. I t r las von I laller r vho
\\'r-otcin the secondrolunrc ol'his.4ncrtonrico/ librart'that Barthez
[88] In a note in the nventv-cighthlcssonof the Cburr,Comte
haileclthe illustrious Barthezas "a f)r more influential philoso- bclieve<lthat rvhathe callcd the "r'ital PrinciPlt" r.asthc ultim.rtc
pher" than Condillac, and in his prefice to the Nourcouri/dmcnrs sourc,' o f t hc lil'e f br ct : . JrBut in t hanking Bar t hczlbl sendinga
tle I'hommche praiscdit as a tcxt "ol eminent philo-
clela scicnce copr ol f r is 1772 inaugur alaclclr ess t o t he Nlont pcllier . Facult ot
r
sophical pouer" .rnd an "cxccllcnt logical theorv," lir superior i \l cdi ci ne, "Dc I 'r incipio vit ali hom inis, " von Haller indicat cd
to thc "mctaphvsicirn"Condillac'sTraiti dcss_t;stimes.ln
the fbrty- that he himsclf rvasnot so bold.rs to "accePt,lprinciplc ol a novcl
thircl lesson,Barthezis praiscdfbr havingcstablished"the essen- and unk nol'n nat ur e. "
s l ' s o u n tl p h i l o s o p h i calnrcthod, aftcr havi ng
t ial c har ac te ri s ti c o N ote , m or eoler ! t hat r vhilc Bar t lr ez'sr lor k uas ccr t ainlt one
s o t r ium pha n tl r d e n ro n s tra te dth e i n a n i tl ofanv attcmpt to di s- sourceol Comte'sphilosophr',it is rt le.rstplausiblcthat Barthez's
c ov c r t hc p ri m o rd i a l c a u s e sa n d i n ti ma te nature of phcnomena F.\position r:lcla tloctrinc mdtlicrlc, u h ich Lord.rt publishcd in 1ll l 8,
o1anv orrler,as rrell as havingrcduccd all truc scicnccto the dis- inlluenccrl Comte's judgmcnt of that rvork. lacqucsl-orclatuas a
coven of the actual lau.sgovcrning plrenclmenr."There can be profcssorol anatomvand phvsiologvat Nlontpcllicr r''lren Comte'
no cloubt rlrat it \\'asfrom a nrcdical treatise published in 1778 'rvhonas banishcdto Nlontpellier.in1816,attendtrl courscstherc.

t hat Com t c to o k th c fl n d a rn e n ta lte n e tsof hi s posi ti vcphi l oso- Whcn Comte characterizedBarthcz'scxpression"vital principle"
phr',rlhich hc bclicvcclrvereconllnned by Picrrc-SimonLaplacc's as a mt: r c "f br m ula, " hc r Tasact r r allvusing t he sam et er m t hat
1796 E\positiondu slstdmedu mondeancl Fouricr's l8)2 Thiorie l -orcl ath ad used in cr it icizing von lllllcr 's l. r ilur c t o undcr st and
onalvtique de la chaleur. that thc phr aseim plieclno belicf in r spccialsubst anccor ent it r

It should norv bc clcar rvhv Comte, * ho characterizedGcorg rlistinct f}om bodv and soul. Comte encountcrcdthe teachingsol'

t:rnst Stahl'sdoctrinc .rs"thc most scientific firrmulation of the tht N ' l o nt pellierScl. xr olin i\ lont pcllier it sell, anclt hat , couplcd

2 J6 I l9
rl irh his outspokcn animosiry toward certain lcadinq ligures of Biologicol PhilosoPhY
t he P ar i sSc h o o l ,n ra v h a ' c h a d s o me thi ngto do rvi th the admi - of t he t er m "bio) r 'gr " r t ilect ed a gr ou ing
[90] The invent ion
r at ion t h a t e n a b l e dh i m to fo rm a c l e a r pi cturc of Montpel l i er' s on the Part of phvsiciansanrl phvsiologiststhat their
a\l,arcness
rfoctrine. lEtudes,pp. 7 5-71) subject matt('r was fundamcntallvdifli'rcnt from that ofthc phrs-
ical sciences.The coining ofthe \4ord suggests an assertionofthe
[89] Comte rvasable to pcrceivethe clirect,authentic insight
into biological realitics that lay hidden bchind the abstractcon- discipline'sautonomv,ifnot ofits indepcndenceComte'sbiologi-
c ept of t h e v i ta l p ri n c i p l e . F ro m B a r thezas r" el l as B i chat, he cal philosophyProvidedsystematicjustilic'rtion firr that assertion:
Ieatncdof the intimate relationsamong the conceptsoforganiza- i t connote d f ull accept anccof , as uell as a need t o consolidat e,
tion, lile and conscnsus.
This debt to Barthezmay explainComte's " the greatscient ilic r evolut ionr vhich,under Bichat 'sI eader ship,
tcndencr to prescnthim asthe sole rcpresent.rtive
of thc Montpel- transfcrredoverall prioritv in natural philosophv{rom astronomv
licr School. He overlooked,or pretendcdto overlook, Thcophile to bi ol ogr. "lr Com t e was not ent ir elv \ { r ong t o see t he disaP-
de B or d c u .T h e i d e a th a t th c l i fe o fa n organi smi s.r synthesi so[ pointments he had suflered in his careeras consequcncesof the
elementarr lives, an idea that delighted l)iderot in D'Alembert's fact that he, a m at hcm at ician,had t aken up cudgelson behalfol
t)rearn,rvould no doubt havesccmed as unsatisfictory to Comtc the biologicalschool in the struggleto nraintain,"againstthc irra-
asdid the theorv of organicmolecules- and he rvould lraveraised tional ascendancvof thc mathematicalschool, the indcpendencc
againstit the same objections that he lcveled, in the fortv-first and di gni t v of or ganicst udies. "ll
lc s s onof th e C o u rs ,a r th r l i rs t l i rrmul ati onscrfccl l theorv. l f C omt('s conccpt ionof t he m ilieu iusr ilieclhis belief t hat biol-
B ic hat d i s s u a d c dC o m te l i o m l b l l o rv ing Lorenz Oken, B arthez ogv coulcl Dot be a seParatcsciencc And his conception ol the
overshadorved de Bor<leuin his mind. fhc concept ol complex organi smjust ilied his bclicf t hat biologr m ust be an aut onom ous
living things composedof organic moleculesor animalculessug- sci cnce.The or iginalit v and f br ce of his posit ion lies in t he cor '-
gt:steda misleadinganalogvbctrvcenchemistry and biologv. t-ife relation- or, somewould sav,dialccticalrclation - bctrveenthcse
is necessarily
a propcrtv of the whole organism:"'fhe clementary t\ro conccPts.
anim alc u l c srv o u l c lo b v i o u s l v b e e v e n more i ncomprehensi bl c Comte took the Aristotelianterm "nrilieu" fiom Lamarck via
t han t he c o mp o s i tea n i m a l . e v e na p a r t fi om the i nsol ubl t' di ffi - B l ai nvi l l e .Alt hoLr ghit nas in com m on use in sevcnt eent h-and
c ulr v t h.rt o n e r' to u l dth e re b l g ra tu i tc r uslcreate
t < oncerni ngthe ei ghteent h- cent ur .rvr echanicsant l t hi phr sics o1 {'luids'it 'r as
el'Gctivemode of so nronstrousan association,"\'ery much in the Comte rrho. b! reverringto the nord's primarvscnse,transldrned
spirit of Barthez,Comte held that "evcry organismis by its very it into a conrprthensive,syntheticconct'Pl that rT'ouldprove ust-
nit ur e an i n d i v i s i b l e rv h o l e , n ' h i c h w e di vi de i nto component lil to later biologists and philosophers When he suggested,in
par t s by m e re i n te l l e c tu a l a rti fi c c o n ly i n order to l earn more the fbrtv-third lessonof his Coursin 1817,that the first duty of
ahout it and al*avs rvith the intention of subscquentlvreconsti- biologv is to providea generaltheorv oI rnilieus,Comte, u ho mav
tLrtinqthe v'holc." The statementrevcalsasmanv taboosasit docs not haveknown t he u. or k of William E<lr r '. r r t(ls 1824) or [ t ienne
scruples. IEtudcs,pp. 78-79] Geofl i < x Sainr - llilair c ( 1831) in t his ar e. r ,t hot r ght he r "'aspr <, r -

2+ O 141
cl.riming Lam.rrck'ssuperioritv ovcr Bichat. Bichat'sclistastefbr to * hom h e . r lludes,enablcdhim t o see,in t he car licstf br m ula-
the mcthods of the eightccnth-ccntu rv iatromathematicianshad ti ons ofccll t heor v,t hc lir st glim m er ingsof a t heor l of "cJcgr ccs
led hinr to insist not onlv that thc distinction betrveenliving and " Com t e, t hc vcr v concePtof t hc ccll ir nplied
ol ' i ndi vi d ualit v. For
incrt \\'as legitimatc but also that the living and the inert rverc a nrislcadinganalogvbctrvccn organic bodiesanclinorganiccom-
flndamentalll antagonistic.Against this, Comte argueclthat "if' 17
pounclscomposedof indivisiblc molecules. lEtudes,pp. 6 3-65]
all t hat s u rro u n d sl i v i n g b o d i e s rc a l l ,vtcndcd to destroy them, [91] Clear lv,t he icleaundcr lvingall ol Com t e's posit ionsor t
t hc ir c x is te n c erv o u l db e l i rn c l a me n ta l lv
uni ntel l i gi bl e." r; bi ol ogv rvast he neccssar vdualit v of lif c and m at t er . I n biologi-
Comte's successive .judgmentsof Lamarck are revealing,holv- cal phi l osophv,t he eight ccnt hcent ur v bequcat hc( tl \ \ 'o t em Pt a-
ever,ol' the deeper meaningof his biological viel s. l. . . ] Bevond ti ons to the ninet ccnt h: m at er ialismant l lr vlozoism ,t hat is, t hc
the first conscquenccof the Lamarckiantheorv of the milicu - (loctrine that rnatter is animate(lor that mattcr an(l lile are inscp-
n.rmelv,the variabilitvofspeciesand the gradualinccption ofnerv arabl c.C om t e, likc l) cscar t es,bat t lcd on t r vo lr ont s, and his t ac-
v ar iet ies- C o m te p e rc e i v e cal p o s s i b l vmoni st, and ul ti matel v tics \vcre, if nothing else,Cartcsian.I'he matterrlifc dualism uas
mechanist,tenclencv.Il the organismis conceiveclofas being pas- the positivistecluilalentof thc CartesianmctaPhv:iical clualismot'
s iv c lv s ha p c db l th c p rc s s u rco f th c c nvi ronmcnt, i f thc l i yi ng extcnsi onan<lt hought . For Com t e, dualismu'asa pr er equisit eo1'
t hing is < l e n i c da l l i n tri n s i c s p o n ta n c i t) ,thcn therc i s no rcason rrni vcrsalpr ogr css,r vhich t o him m c. r nt not hing ot hcr t han t he
not to hope that the organicmight somedavbe explainedin tems subjugationand control ol'inert mattcr bv the universeof the liv-
of thc incrt. But hcrc thc spirit of Bichatrosc up in Comte against i ng un< l e rt he guidanceof hum ankind."Wc ar e,at bot t om , t : r 'en
thc thrcat of "cosmologicalusurpation,"16
againstthc shouldering l csscapab lcol conceivingof all bodies. r sI iving, " r vr ot eCom t c,
asideof Larmarck'sinsightsin lavor ol'an uncompromisingmath-
cmatical approach. t he m cr cn( ) t ionoi lilc ir nplits t hc cxist cncr
th.rnasincr t .bccause
Similarlv,Comtc held, like Bichat and follorving his lead, that ol thi n gsnor endo*cclr r it h it . . . . Lllt inr at clrliving
, beingscanc\ isr
t hc t is s ue u a s th e l o rv e s tp o s s i b l el e v e l ol anatomi calanal vsi s; onlv irr inerrmilicus,\l hich prori<Je rbcnr\\ ith both .rsubstr;rtcand
he therefbre denieclthat the cell, rvhich he calleclthe "organic :r di rcct or indir ectsour ccol nour jshm ent . . .I.t evcr r t hingr r cr c
monad," could bc thc basiccomponcnt ofall complex organisms. al i ve,no nr t ur al lau sould bc possiblc,ibr t he var i; r bilint h. r tis
I t \ 1asnot s i m p l v th a t h c u a s s u s p i c i ousof mi croscopv,u.hose rlNa\sinherentin vital sp()ntrDcit\is rcallvlinritedonlr bv the prc-
t ec hni< 1u ewse rc s ti l l rc l a ti v c l vp ri mi ti v r ' ;C omte' sopposi ti onto ponrl c r anccof t he iner tnr ilieu.l8
cell theorl *.as primarilv logical. For him, an organism rvasan
indivis;blestructure ofinrlilr.lua./parts. Actual living things rvcre [:r' eni n bcingsr vher t 't ht onll m anif i'st at ionol lif c is vcget at ivc,
not " indiv i d u a l s " i n a n v s i mp l e s e n s e .N ei ther hi s superfi ci al one [i nds a "r aclic. rcont
l r astbet \ \ 'eenliie'and deat h. " Bet ueen
knorvlcdgcof Gcrman naturc philosophv,especiallvthat ol Oken, pl antsanc lanim alst hcr c is sim plv . r "r eal dist inct ion, " *her eas
nor his reariingof Henri Dutrochct (at around the time lle was betrvcenplant s anclincr t subst anccst hcr c is a "r a<licalsepar a-
prt'paringthc Cours),nor cvcn his readingol Thcodor Schrvann, ti on." The t r adit ional clivisionol nnt ur c int o t hr ec kingdom s

21) 24l
( anim al, mi n c ra l , r' e g e ta b l e )a l l o u ,e done to i magi ne a gradual l -amarck 'sdoct r inc. G all pr ovided Com t e u it h an ar gum entin
transition fiom one speciesto another along a chain of being; favor of innat e apt it udes and, m or e gener alll, of innat c f t r nc-
Comte therefbre proposedreplacingthat tripartite schemewith tions - an argument that Comte elaborateclinto a guaranteeof
a ncw one consistingof tu,o "empires" (living and inert). He was continued progressthrough developmentof a preexistingorder.
convinced that "vital sciencecannot exist u ithout this irreduc- Comtc claimed to have achievedcomprehensive,critical in-
ible dua l i s m." re si ght i nto t he biologv of his t im e. lf I havecor r ect lv ident if ied
In essence,Comte sau',betu'een Lamarck and Descartes,a par- the grounds of his self-confldence,it should novvbe possibleto
allcl that no onc rvould think of disputing today. Perhapsmore statehis most important conclusionsin a svstematicfashion.First,
perspicaciousu,ith respectto the future than accuratein his per- Comte believedthat he, follorvingGeorgesCuvier,had eliminated
ception ol the present,Comte anticipated the conse<luences
of ti:leologv from biologv: thc "conditions of existcnce" replaced
the idea that animalscan be conditioned bv their environmcnts- thc dogma of final causes,and the onlv relation assumedto exist
that is, he fbresarvthc possibilitvoIbchaviorism.Thc assumption bctu ecn an organismand its environment, or betlveenan organ
of a dircct muscular reaction to external impressionsis incom- and i ts fi r nct ions,r vasone of com pat ibilit y or f it ness,im plying
pat ible, C o mte a rg u e d , v ' ,i th th e i d e a of" ani mal spontanei ty, norhingmore than viability."Within certain limits," Comtc statcs
which at the verv leastimplies that inner motives are decisive."a0 arrangedin such a way that
in the Cours,"everythingis necessarily
This rvould lead to a "rcstorationofCartesianautomatism,which, existenccis possible."lr'I'heharmonvbetu'eenfLnction and organ
though incompatible rvith the ficts, continues in one fbrm or "does not go bevond what actuallilb requires."alSince,moreover,
another to mar our leadingzoologicaltheories."al organismsdepend on their environmcnts, living things arc sub-
Norv rve can sce rvhv Comte ascribedsuch importance to the jr.:ctto cosmic influcnces.Biologv is thcrefbre relatcd to cosmol-
theories of Franz foseph Gall, u'ho argucd that the fundamental ogv; lrence, the principle that nature's lalvs are invariable,first
inclinations and drivesof human and animal behaviorarc innate. formulateclin astronomyand eventuallyextendeclto chemistry,
His cranioscopicmethod, so easv- all too easy- to celebrateor could norv bc cxtcndcd to biologv, thcrcbv invalidatingthe beliel'
ridicule, actuallv stemmed fiom his principled hostilitv to sen- that variability and instabilitv arc essentialto organic proccsscs.
sualism.If it could be shorvnthat certain areasofthc brain were Finallv,generalizinga principle borrouecl from FranqoisJoseph
bv their verv nature asrociatcd \a'ith certain psychic faculties, then V i ctor B r oussais,Com t e held t hat all pat hologicalphcnom cna

one must ascribeprimordial existenceto those faculties.Hence, could be explainedbv the laus of phvsiologv.Thus, he argucdthat

nothing could havebeen more alien to Call's (or Comte's) think- the dillerence betu.ecnhealth and diseasewas a matter of degree

ing than thc l.amarckian idca that thc biological functions are rathcr than of kind - hcncc mcdicine should bascits actions on

independentof the organsthat embody them (and may eveninflu- the analvticlarvsof anatomophvsiologv.

ence the developmentof those organs).True, Gall did map cere- Yet, as even thc Coursmade clear, the verv organic structure
of l i vi ng t hings consr it ut ed an obst acle t o f ur t her pr ogr essin
bral topographvby studving the mental functions of his patients,
but in doing so his intention lvas to rcfutc, not to corroborate, Positive,experimental phvsiologv.An organism,Comte argued,

244 21t
is a c ons e n s uolfo rg a n s a n d l u n c ti o n s . The harmonv th.rt eri sts and thnt ol Kult ( lolr jst ein,t o lind in r ht kr r ncr a phcnom cno-
am ong t h e l i n c ti o n s o l th e o rg a n i s mi s " i nti mart' i n a verv cl i f- logic.rlbioloqv ovantIo lcttrean<lin thc lltt< r a h itherto-neglecte<l
lerent scnsefrom tht'hartnonv that existsbcnvccn the crrganism posi ti vi srinspir at ion.I n lict , Com t e had an idea, albcit a cc'n-
and t he m i l i c u ." l l An o rg a n i s m , C o m te mai nt.l i ned, i s a uni - fi se< lone , ol r r her e he , "Tas
going. f he int cllcct ualf lnct ion *as
f lc d who l e ; to d i s s c c ti t, to d i v i d e i r i n to componcnt parts,rvas thc di sti nguishingf eat ur eof anim al lif e. To int er pr . etall lif i'as a
" m er e in te l l c c tu a l a rti fi c e ." + 5T h e b i ol ogi st, then, must rvork sericsdcvolving from man, the perlect emboclimentof that firnc-
llom t he g e n e ra lto th e s p e c i fi c , fi o m the uhol e to the parts: tion, \\'asto treat biologv assubordinateto sociologr',fbr thc truc
"Ilou can anvoneconceireofthe rvholc in terms ol its partsonce thcorv ol inr elligence\ \ 'ast o bc f br r nd,Conr t c bclicvcd,in soci-
c ooper a ti o na tta i n sth c p o i n t o f s tri c t i ndi vi si bi l i trl " ' 16B etueen ol ogv and nr ) t in ps\ chologv.I Er ur icrpp.
, 67- 71]
I r nm anu e l Ka n t.rn c l C l a u d < Be rn a rd ,C omte onct.agai n made [!)]] Conr t e's biological philosophr , t hat <dif icr . :oI cr u<li-
linalit y , i n th e g u i s eo f to ta l i t), a n e s senti alel ement ol the defi - ti on and lcar ning,hid an inr uit iveconvi( t ion r vhoscim plicar ions
nit ion of a n o rg a n i s m. l verefi r-r eaching.I he im pet usbehind t hat convict ionno doubr
This u'asnot the onlv place rvhere the positivist method vio- stemmccllionr thc fict that a uto;rianspirit breathedlif'enot onlv
lateclthe principle of rvorking fiom the simple to the complex i nto the b old Jsser t ionsol a br ancl- nelscienccbut also int o t hc
.rrrdthe knorvn to thc unknorr.n.In celebratingthe promotion of ri me-tcst c(tlr ut hs oI a philosophvalm ostasold as lif c it 5elf .Sim -
nnnt { ) myto th e rl u a s i -p h i l o s o p h i c a
d li gni tv of comparari l canat- pl v put, t his \ \ 'nst hr convict iont hat I if i't akcs placebut doesr r ot
onr . n s \ ' s te mrh a t p ro v i d c d a b a s i sl b r cl assi l vi n!
the nrul ti tude ori gi narein t ] r t 'r r r r r lr l of t he iner t . r r hcr e it . r l. anclonst o r lcat h
ol sprcif ic fbrm,i, Conrtc was lcd to reject Cur iet's fbnd notion l ganism st hat st enrllor n elser rhcr c. "Thc collcct ion
i n(l i vi (l u. rot
that thc animal kingdonrccrnsists
ofa number ofdistinct branchcs ol natura llr odiesdoesnot lbr m an . r [ 's<r luruc holc. " l- hisbclicl,
rncl to acceptinsteadLamarck'sand Blainvillc'sth('or\ ofa unique combi ntd r vit h t hc idc. r of a cont inuous,linear ser iesof living
series.Once again,his grourrdsfor making this choice involveda thi ngsculm inar ing,logicallvas vvcllast elcologicallv,in m an, uir s
s ubor c lin a ti o n
o f th e s i m p l e to th e c o m pl ex, ofthc bcgi nni ngto evcrrtuallvtranslbrmedinto the iclcaol lliocracv asthc necessarv
t ht end: " l h e s tu d v o l m,rnm u s t a l rv a vsdomi natethc compl ete condition ol Sociocracv.This uirs the positivistcquir'.rlentof thc
s \ s t eDro f b i o l o g i c a l s c i c n c c , c i th c r a s poi nt ,rl rl el > rrturcor as ti ol d mctaphvsicr lidca ol a Realnrol l nt ls. f lr udcr , p. 73]
. qoal, " r ;Th i s i s b c ta u s t th c g r.' n c ranl o ti on of man i s " the onl y i;
immediate" datum uc hi\'(.rf Comtc thus clainredto be keeping l
Positivc Poli tics
laith rvith his gcncral program,"uhich consisrsin al\1aysrcason- I [9]] The super ior it vol posit ivepolit ir : s"r t sult s lionr t he l. r ct
ing fiom thc bettcr knorvn to the lesserknolvn," even though he that it dr.r(or"rJ
insistcdon arrangingth< lninral seriesin ordcr of <lecreasing
com- i uhat others lnrcnt."Thc ditcovcrv tlrat the inren-
tor ol positivr.poJiricsclaintcd as his orr n \\,asthat "thc natural
plexitr - this in order to rca(l thc seriesas "revcaling a devolu- la*.s that govcn the m.rrch of civilization" are deriveclfrom thc
J laus ofhuman organization.Tb the t'rtt'rrt that "thc statcol soci,tl
tjon liom man rathcr than r perf'ectionfiom the spongc."lt rvould fl
slrin creclulitvto clrarva parlllel betrveenComtc's ipproach here D organi zar ion
is esscnt iallv
dcper r clent
on t hc st . t t col cir ilizat ior r , "
(

I4 ( ) ! +'l
s oc ial org n n i z a ti o ni s n o th i n g o th e r or morc than an aspectof n.ltural rcsolution o[ the crisis." The linking of the terms "vital
human organization"not subject to major t hange" (so far as we lbrce" and "crisis" alcrts us to what is going on here: this was
can see).What ne knou.of human organization,moreover,is the Il i ppocra t ic m ediciner eint cr pr et edin t he light of t he M ont pel-
result of a Dethodological decision "to cnvi5lgs rn11 as a term l i er S chool'sdoct r ine.
in r hc an i m a l s e ri e s ,i n d e e d , fro m a s t i l l more generalpoi nt of l n C omt e'st ext , t hc t r r n "cr isis" t ook on a pat hologicaland
v iew, as o n e o l a c o l l e c ti o n o f o rg a n i zedbodi cs or substances." $ therapeu t icsignif icancet hat it lacked in Saint - Sim on.I t uas a
S('eminglvfiithful to Claude Henri dc Saint-5inron's
terminologl.,
$ tcrnr frei g ht edwit h all t hc *eight and deckcd out wit h ail t he
Comte gave thc name "phvsiologv" to thc "general science of
I maj estyo f . r r nedic. r lt r aclit ion.Thus, "nat ur e" r r as cont inuallv
organizc<lbodies." But a diffcrcncc betrveenhis use of thc term invoked as the ultimat(: reasonwhv unfivorable political circum-
and Saint-Simon'sis alreadvevidcnt. For Crrmte, phvsiologywas
t;
stancc,ifailed to prevent "the advanccof civilization," u hich in
not just a discipline recentlv institutecl lbr the study of man as f)ct "ncarlv alwavsprofits fiom mistakesrathcr than being <lelayed
living being, onc w.hosemethod could scrvc as a model for the bv them." This recourseto natureis so basicthat it enablesComte
s t udv of m a n i n s o c i e tv ;m o re th a n th at, thc content ofphysi ol - to naturalize,as it rvere, the most distinctive f'eaturcol human
ogy wast() b('comethe nucleusofa ncw scicnce.Physiologvowed historv,namely,the labor or industrl rvhcrcbysocietv pursuesits
it s c onr e n t to n re d i c i n c ,a n c lme d i c i n e taught thi s Icsson:" [-ong cnds: this Comte describt'rlas"action on nature to modifv it fbr
havinghoped that hc might learn to repair anr disturbanceto his man' sbenef lt . " This t eleologicalcnd uas "det er m incd bv nr an's
nnd eveDto rcsistanv destructivelbrce, lman] finally
or-qanization i rank i n the nat ur alsvst emas indicat ed by t hr lict s, som et hing
rcalized that his efforts rverc firtilc as lonq as they did not coop- :1
of er planat ion. "[ . .. ]
not susce pt it r le
er.rtc u'ith thorc of his organization,rnd still more fi-rtilewhen '[ his limitation of man'sporverto kno* ledge ol nature'slarvs
thc nro rverec.'pposed."
And further: "Thc fict that many illnesses and prcdiction of their effects,hcnce to harnessingnatural lorces
u'erecurcd in spite ofdefictivc treatmentstaught physiciansthat to human designs,has m or e in com m on u'it h t he pr udcnce of
everv living bodv sp,rntaneouslytakes porverful steps to repair Hippocratic diagnosticsthan n ith the demiurgic dream of <lcna-
ac c idc nta ld i s tu rb a n c e sto i ts o rg a n i z ati on."H ence, pol i ti cs i s turing nature through historv.
lik c m ed i c i n e i n th a t b o th a rc d i s c i p li ncs i n rvhi ch perfccti on But readingbetueen the lines ofthe text is not cnough. What
reguircsobservation.And just as there rvert tr*o schoolso[med- ol the sourcesthat CoDrtedreu on? fhe text quote(l ab,l'e con-
ical thoLrght,so, too, werc therc t$o schoo)sof political thought: tainssuch phrasesas"thc political impetus peculiarto the hunran
thc "po)itics of imagination" involvcd "strenuous t'lJbrtsto dis- race" and "t hc pr ogr cssof civilizr t ion, " lvhich "does not nr ar ch
c ov er r em c < l i c sw i th o u t s u ffi c i e n tc o n si dcrati onofthc natureof i n one str aight I ine" but , r at her , pr oceedsbl "a ser iesol oscil-
t he dis c .rs c " ;th c " p o l i ti c s o f o b s c rv ati on,"on thc other hand, l ati ons not unlike t he cr scillat ions*e see in t hc nt t 'chanismoI
k nor r ing " th a t th e p ri n c i p a l c a u s eo fh e al i ng i s the pati ent' svi tal locomotion." And Comte rcrlcrsto "one ol the essenti.rlla* s of
strcngth [/orce vita]e]," is content, "through observation,to re- organi ze dbodies, " r vhich can be applied "cquallv r vcll t o t he
movc the obstaclesthat empirical metho(ls place in the rvayof a human racc act ing collcct ivclv or t o an isolat edindividual" - a

246 21')
LNITEFPP!T

cJPacit Yas an jllher cnt


to thc P rcscnceot ocrfect thcm sclvcs.Bv int er pr ct ing t his
lan' t hat l i n k e d th c c J c l e l o p me not f s tr!' ngth 'ir,rp"r,y ot,tt. notr.,..:ut t"gani''trion' hc rvasable to kccp l'rith
that rtcll lrefbre he
rcsistance.Flom this I venturc ttl conclude
and Barthez's \\'ith the PreccPtsof Positivism'
addcd Anthelnrc Richerancl'sElinentsdc ph.vsiologic Fann'-
On D e ccm ber 25, 132'+,Conlt e wr ot t J'r cr lues- Pier r e
,\burtaur dlimcntrrlc la science tlc I'hommeto thc annalsof posi-
srrcietv ttxla,r is a long rrlv
to sal 'rbout ani- \ialat: "The state in rT'hichrvc {ind
tivism, Comtc haclreatl rr'hat troth authorshad statcol crisis" Bcc:ttlsc
movemcnt i n the fiom nom.rl,... Jt is. rather,.rvt'rv violent
m al m ov e mc n f. R i c h e ra n d l v ro tc o f " z i gzag of organisms'he
in his Nouvelle hc vic*ed organizationas a normative propcrtl
spaccbcttleen two Parallcl lines " And Barthcz'
de I'homnrect desonimou\' discussed .,,,,1d,r,r three diflerent occasionsch'rractcrize1>oliricalllrojccts
micaniqueclesmrtuvemcnts on firur tlcc'r-
rvord oscil- ()r ptacticts as"monstrositicS"or "monstrotts" ancl
.r'o"", ond reciltrocatingmotions' Comtc also usetlthe or behalior as"delective Thcsc terms
"
l eadi ng to sionscharacterizec<-rn<luct
lr t ion. An d n h c n h t' s p o k e o f th e p e ctrl i ari mpetus intimatelv-associatcd
to Barthez' r.erc borrorved lrotn tcratology,a science
improvemcnts in the social ordcr, hc again ref'erred Ceollior 5rint-
nttcanique'tricrJ rclute the
to u ith the emcrging lielrl oI enrbrvologti Eticnn'
tc, thc Uarthezrvho' in his Nouvclle humaincsh'rd b<cn published
(han that the ground I lilairc's treatiscon l 6 llonstrLtositis
irlca that animalsnovt {br no other reason a concept ol nor m al
Chap- i n 1822.Com t t ''sphilosophl clcar lv im plics
repels their ftet And again. it rvasBarthez- specificallv' I n lact ' il Conr t e' in t hc
[rorrou'cdthe asopposet tl o pat hologicalt lt velopm ent '
t", F.ru. .rf Nour.nur Uiments- {iom rvhom Comte of things as lre-
Piun r/r'stlrlour scicntjfiguc, invokcs the n'lture
lau r elati n gs tre n g tht() rc l l s ta n c e - he m eanslif cand bv
and pur- < l uentl vashe dt "t ' it i' bccausebt "t hings"
Tu r.,. r.,p,tht:n, Comte left thc Ecolc Polvtechnique ,ilil'",,h" n.""n, a distincrtcapacitvto persistin a ",t,tt,n;11" lircc'
the preflce to thc
suc(l the studv ol biologv' as he indicatcs in bv Fr angois
ti on.' Io bor r ou aD c\ Pr essionf icqucnt lr em ploler l
sixth and final volumc ofthe Cours<lcphilosophie Potirife At that nor m lt ive. ''Bv
P errour,Com t e'sc( r ncePt ualiza( ion is "im Plicit lv
i<lcr o( the organism
time, he rllscoverecland made his orvn an of man into
organi zati on' rcintc{rating the human into thc organil' the historY
t hat bc c a m cth c k c Yc o n c e P to fh i s th eorv ofsoci al ol ncccsslt \
appliquie d I'ani- the hi sto ll of t hings, Com t c best o\ \ 'cda guar Jnt ec
When Saint-Simor pub)isheclDc la phvsiolollic to rlo s<r
tr) on tht moral rlcstjnatirltl o{'tlrc sptcies He rv'rs'rble
t o c ,d l eirn 1 8 1 3,he di d D ot attemP t
lior . t t io nd c s i n s ti l u ti o n -i the positivc
flis concerption of \\'ith()ut contr.rdictirlnrlnlv becattsc,under cover of
imposc a triologicalmodel on socialstructure' an orclcrof meaningon an ordcr
his conception term "nature," hc supcrimposecl
an:',:,.gonir",lbodv" requircd no suchanalogv'and
ol larv.i'A. Comte," EtrrrJcs pfi;L'sophigrcr'pp 29a-91]
.rf "..ir"r" in.rpliedno ntccssarv relation to Pathology Comte'
jn torm'
on tlre other hantl, fbund Barthez'still in a metaphvsical
self-rcgulating The Positi vist DisciPles
the icleathat organizcrlsvstemsat-eto somc crtent Comte rl$cribed
i n l 80l ' f9't] ln the S.vstinrc ,positrIc(1851)'
tle polirttlue
or aut on o mo u s .An rl fi o m a l e c tu re t hat B arthezgave
dreu the tr.o voune phrsicirns, I)t. L,rttis-lugusteScgond;rndl)r' CharLcs
c nt it lc ( l " l )i s c o u rs s u r l e g [:n i c d ' l l i p pocratc" ' C omrt
asComte Robin. ashis <lisciples.In lil'18, the t'r'o men fbun<lcdthc Societi'
HipPocri(ic conclttsionr.rll orgatrisms(or orqaniTations'
to preserl cand cl c B i ologie,an or yaniTJt ionwhcJscr ePor t sand jot lr n'r lsgir e t hc
lik c r l t o c a l l th e m )h a v e a s P o n ta n e o us capaci tv

l (l
I to
most comprehensive and vivid im.rgervehaveofbiological research Comteantl Positit'ist
l.rtertranslateJohn StuarcMill's book ,'1u1;ustc
in Franceover the p.st centurv or more. The Soci6t6'sfirst gov- v o Fr ench. subsequcnt lvachjeveda lim e t hat has
P hi l osophint
crning boald rv;s chaired by Dr. Raver, u,ho later becamedean rcnded to overshadowhis earlv interest in biologv. His nnme was
of the Facultv of ll'ledicinel Claude Bernard and Charles Robin CeorgcsCl!menccau.
servedasvicc chairmcnl and Charles-Edouard
Brown-S6quard
and R obi n u'asalso, along u'it h Enr ile [ . ir t 16, r he aut hor of t he
Robin u'ere the secretafies.The group's first charter rvasdrafted Dictionnairede m'ldecine,uhich in l87l supplantedthe seriesof'
by Robin, and its flrst article statedthat "the Soci6t6de Biologie revi sed edit ions of Pier r e lluber t N\ 'st en'sDict ionnair e.This
is instituted fbr the studv ol the scienceoforganized beings in reminds us that Comtc's biological philorophl, also left its mark
the normal state and in the pathological state," The spirit that on the developmcnt of lexicographyin Franccas rvell as on the
animated the fbundersofthe group rlas that ofpositive philoso- producti on of cr it ical edit ions of m edical t ext s and on t hc his-
phy. On June 7, 1848,Robin reada paper"On the Direction That torv ofmed ical scicnce.I Er udes, pp. 7l- 1) l
the Founding Membersof thc Soci6t6de Biologie HaveProposed [95] With an author as careful about tlre meaning of r+ords
'fhev as rvasLittr6, one must take literally rvhat he said about his per'
to Answer to the Title llave Chosen." In it, he discussed
Com t e' s c l a s s i fi c a ti o no f th e s c i c n c e s ,cxami ned bi ol ogv' smi s- sonalrel ationslvit h Com t c. O n at lcastt wo occasionshc st at cd,
sion in much thc rame spirit as Comte had done in the Coursde "l srrbscribe
to the positivcphilosophv."sr e alsosai<ithat hc had
philosophie poritirc, and noted th.rt one ol the most urgent tasks chosenComte's great book as a "model," ..rdding,"There, hap-
f ac ing t hc d i s c i p l i n erv a sto i n v e s ti g a tethe nri l i eusi n rvhi ch l i fe pi l r' , I tccl t hat I am a disciple. "t r He descr ibedhis allegiancer o
cxistt'd. Robin evenhad a narnelbr this proposerJsubdiscipllne- posi ti vi sm as a kind of conver sion:"H. 1\ 'ingbeen a m er e I r ee-
"mesologv."When the Soci6t6cclebratedits filtieth anniversarr thi nker, I b ecam ea posit ivistphilosopher . "; lWhen Lit t r e cliecl,
in 1899,t h e p h v s i o l o g i s E
t m i l e Gl e y rcad a report on the evol u- his journal, La Philosophie pos;tilc,sought to counter rumors that
tion of the biological sciencesin France,in which the impetus l re had con ver t edr o Cat holicismbt publishingit s lat e edit or - in-
that positivismgaveto thc subject is frequentlyalluded to. Gley's chi ef' s fi nal edit or ial undcr t he t it lc "For t hc Last Tim c": "Tht :
rcport still makesinterestingreading.ae positivcphilosophvthat kept me fiom being a mere negatorcon-
In 1862, Charles Robin became the first person to hold the tinues to accompanvme through this final ordeal.";a
chair in histologvat thc FacLrltyo[Medicine in Paris.l0From that ll there u,asonc principlc of thc positivc philosophyset fbrth
position he remained faithful to one tenet of Comte's biological in the Cbursabout which Littre neverexpressedthe slightestrcs-
philos op h v i n h i s re fu s a lto tc a c h c e l l theory i n the dogmati c ervation, and l'hich he tirelesslvdelended, it was the hierarchv
fcrrmin rvhich it had been expressedb,vRudolph Virchor.. Robin ofthe six fundamentalsciences,expressingthc historicalprogres-
taught insteadthat thc ccll rrirsonc ofmany anatomicalcompo- si on of hum an knon ledge. What int cr est cd him , of cour se,n'as
nents rathcr than the fundamentalcomponent of living organ- the rel ati o n of biologv t o it s pr edeccssor s.
phvsicsand aboveall
is m s . I n 1 8 5 5 ,a s tu d c n t i n R o b i n ' ss c h ool defendeda thesi son chernistry but he mav havebeen even morc intcrestcdin the rela-
"The Gcncrationof Anatomic.rlElemcnrs."Its author, q'ho rvould ti on of soc iologvt o biologr . This uas t he sour ccof his r lis. r gr cc-

2t 2 25]
mcnt \\'ith Herbcrt Spencer,'r'ho arguedin the "Classificationof cal thcorv knon n as "organicisnr,"firr ncglecting thc irretlucibil-
i tl ol the pr oper t iesol living m at t ef . Not c, bv t he r , 'av,t hat bot h
thr: Sciences"th.rrhierarchvought to be replacedbv interdepen-
Litrrc's Dicriorrxrircde lo longut fron6oireand his Dittionnairedc
dcnce. Littr! held that no changein the relatire rankingol the sci-
contain artic]eson thc rvord irr1ducti6lc.
rnr'r/ccine ["] ittrc,",4crcr
c nc es \ 4, a sp o s s i b l e ,5 ;1 n dh g l a s a b l e to pt' tsuadeMi l l on thi s
du ColloqueEm;lel.ittri, I 80 1- l,\ El, pp. 27 l-7 )l
point.5.'An immediateconsequenccof the hir:rarchicalprinciple
was that importing a mcthod lalid fbr the stu(lYof a lorver level [c)6] ln rvhatrt'spcctsdid Xavicr Bichatinflucnce Emile Littri'
into a disciplinc at a highcr level $as "the .rndother posit ivistphysicianssuch as Char lesRoLr in( not onlr
or stageof phenotmcna
b ut also t hr ough August eConr t c) ?To bcgin u it h, t hcr c
rJi l ectl l .'
greatestthc()reticalmist.rle one could nrake"!? Littr6's philoso-
.rlashis celebratccldistinction betr,.eentu<r fbrms ol lif c, vegeta-
phl of bio l o g y , b e n c eo f m c rl i c i n ea s rvel l ,can br: summcd up i n
one briel passagc:"Biological facts must first obev the larvsof ri vc ancls ensit ivc( or anim al) , t he lat t cr being subor dinat et o

chcmistry.Anv correct interPretationmust respcctthis principle' the l ,rrme r . Lit t r c alluded t ( ) t his dii: inct ion in his. r r t icle on
Fl anqoi sN{agenclie,r T'her e
he cr it icizt d his subjcct lir r nor having
But the rcvcrseis not true: chcmical facts nced not obcv the laws
ol biologr, lirr rthich ther lack one thing, nanrelt' the char''rcteris- rcspccterlt hc or clerin r vhich t he luDct ior ) sought t o be st udicd:

tic of life."5"'-fhat "one thing" rvould Pcrsistto thc cnd of Littr6's in Phsiolollie,N'lagenrlic had taken up thc sensor\llnctions bciirrc
consi deringnut r it ior r . 6rllut t hc m ain t hing t hat t he posit ivist s
lifc: fbr him it \\'asan incontrovertible obstaclc,"the crucial dif:
ferencc bct* een mcchanismantt organism."l''Littri * as, to use tqrk trom Bichatuas his contcntion that thc tissuesrrcrc the ulti
m.rreel enr ent soI anat onr icalan. r lr sis,
a vicu' t hat t cn<lertlo push
a modern tcrn, .rn implacableentnlv of "reductionism " In 1846,
thc nervscicnceofhistol,rgv irr ont- rJircctionratherthan Jnother.
lbr examplc. in a studv ol JohannesMiiller's Hondbuclrder Phvsi-
l-ittre cnnlc to the dcfcnse of thc "irreduc- l 3i chl t' svien s, r epent edbv Com t c ir r t he li) r t \ - f ir st lessonof t he
ologie des,l'lcnschcn,
C oars,cxplain t hc pcr sist entskcpt icismol I : r cnch phvsiciansin
ible": "lt is imPortant to dcterminc thc irreduciblc ProPerticsof
the l i rst ha lf of t he nir r ct cent hcent ur '\ '\ ! it h r espcctt o cell t hcor v
t hings . . .. Irrc d u c i b l e m c a n s th a t $ h i ch one cannot el l ecti vel y
rncl mi cro sclr pict echni<1ucs,
*hich r r cr c dispar ag<<l in lir or <r l
r educ c . I n c h c trl i s trv .{ o r i n \t.rn c e .e f fecti tel r i ndecomposabl e
ruch hi rtologicalnt et hodsas r iisscct ion,r lcsiccat ion,m accr at ion
c om poun c l sa re c a l l e d i rre d trc i b l e ." 6l0n 1856,i n a maj or al ti cl e
and treatm entr vit h acicls.liuc, t he m icr r scopesavailablcat t he
on F r an q o i sl \{ rg e n c l i e ,L i ttre l o u n d that N l agendi ehad been
ti mr * cre m cr liocr e,an<lLouis Ranvicrnot er i in his 1876 inau
m or e an o PP o n e n tth a n a d i s c i p l e o l ' X avi cr B i chat l n essence'
gural l cctur c at t hc Colldgedc Fr ancet hat Bichathad been r ight
Nlagencliehad lailed to distinguish bctrveen rhc occult and thc
to be rr' .rr vof t hcm . Never t hclcss.
posir ivistpht sicianst lisplavcd
, c i n l ma n c n t l l ro p e rti e sof l i vi ng matter' rvhere' rs
ir r edLr c i b l eth
tlichat harlrecognizecl the irrcdrrciblervhile crorcisingthe occult' P ersi sl enthost ilit v t o m icr oscopr ,par t lr in olt cdicnt c t o I I enr l
l)ucrotar rle Blainvillr's authoritativ('Cous de ph.vsioktgie ctinenlc
N{ agend i eh a d b e e n u n a b l eo r u n r,i l l i n g to stntca cl ear P osi ti on
(lll29). Rcn6-1hi:ophile llyacinrhc I-ainnecalsonumbert'clamong
on thc reclucibilitv olbiological phcnomenaro the la\a'sofPhYs-
thc instrument'scletrectors.Th.rnksto N,larcKlcin's rrrrrk on thc
ic s and c h e m i s trv o r o n th c i rre d u c i bi l i tv of vi tal organi zati trn'
hi st,rrvofc cll t heor r . r helc is n<rnec<lr o ht l. r t r <rfrt c, bin'soPpo-
Lim r i ua s a l s oc ri ti c a l o f l .((tn R o l ta n . thc author ol the medi -

25.+ l5t
I
-

sition t() anv lorm of researchthat claimed to go beyond * hat he credited in advance."6il"Littre," Actesdu ColloqueEnilc Iixri,
took to be the basicconstituent ofthe anatomv(tissue).Evenas t 8 0 l-1 88 p
1p, .271-751
late as 1869,ten yearsafter the publication ofRudolph Virchow's
[97] L it t r 6 set f ir r t h his vier vson hvgienein a com ncnt ar !
cefebrated $'ork, Robin n,rote in la Philotophiepositive that the <tn the Traitd <l'h.v11iine puhliclueet privdc b.t l\4icheI Livv, the lbr-
ccll r*ar a metaphysicalconstruct and conmented ironically on mer chi ef phvsicianof r hc Alm 6es <l'C) r ier rand t ( lir cct or of t he
"thc allcgcdlv tl pical or primordial organic ct'll."6l When Littr6 V al -de-G r icehospit al, *'honr Lit r 6 descr ibcd as r n "r nr incnr
reviewe<fRobin's .lnatomie ct physioloqiecellulaitesin rhe s,lne jour- author," althoughJcan-Nlichel(luarrliasa* him rs nrcrrer.'la rher
nal in 1874,he acceptedhis lriend'sdoubts as facr. Yet in an l8?0 ori ci an than a scholar . Public hcalt h had been a lir elr m er licll
articlc on the "()rigine de I'id6.ede justicc," Littre had discussed subspecialt vin Fr ancc sinct t he vvor k of Jcan- Not l llalld and
trl'o kinds of brain cells, affectiveanclintcllcctualr Wasthis a the- Franqoi sEm m anuel Fodi'r d ear lv in t hc ninet eent h ccDr ur v; it
oretical conccssionor a merc stylistic convenience?61 ha<lprolitcd from the cxpcrience ol such militarv phv5iciansas
In u hat respects,moreover,did Frangois-loseph-Victor
Brous- \iillerm6, rvho had servedas surgeon-majorin Napoleon'sarmr'.
saisinfluence Littra (either directlv or through Comte)? Surely, Thi s medical subsp{ci. r lt vhad no doubt lent cr cdence t o r hc
[ . it t r i' in h e ri te d Bro u s s a i s 'sstu b b o rn ness
i n defendi ngthe theo- noti on ofmilieu, f ir st put f br u. ar din t lr e r vor ksof Blain. '. ille
and
ries of physicrlogicalmedicinc, l'hich were b.rsedon a bclief in Iamarck. I I vgiene,accor <lingt o Lit t r i, is t he science<r f '. r t t ions
the identitv ol thc normal anclthc pathological.as rvell as on a and react ionsbet r veennr ili, : us. r ncl
or ganism s,hum anr includer l.
refilral tcr vierv diseaseas introducing lnl nerv lunctional pro- ,\s fi rr mi lieu, Lit t r ( i nor cd in lii58 t hat t he t er nr har ln r r clr nicr l
cessin tltt organism (a casemade even beforc Broussaisby _lohn rncani nga, nd hc gavca det ailcdr lcllnit ion in nr anvr r specr sr cm i-
Hunter). Litt16 thus acceptedand championedwhat Comte called ni scentof t hc t able ol phvsicalagent st har Blainr ille h, r r lt allcd
"Broussais'sPrinciplc." In the prelace to the second edition of " rxternal m odif ier s. " l'hr : scient il'ic clabor at ion ol t ht r vor r i
llddecineet midecins,Littrd stressedthe nccd for medicine to " mi l i cu" in t hc ninet et 'nt hcent ur v r equir cclt he par t ici; >at ion
of
r ev is e it s th c o ri e s i n l i g h t o f p h y s i o l ogy' shavi ng attai ned the a number of scienccst hat had achieveclt he st ageof "1>osit iv-
positivestageof development.Pathologvhad thus become "phys- i t\" ' - phv sics,chem isr r v and biologv. Thc t er r n also scr vcd in
iologv o f th e d i s tu rb e d s ta te ," a n d thi s, I i ttre argued, w as an
Partasan ideologicalsuLrstitute
for thc notion ol "climat(," !1.hich
"essentialnotion." This Broussaisist dogma would later prove to h.rdbeen used extensivelvbr c,ighteenth-centurv authors, p.rfric-
be onc of the obstaclesto undcrstandingnricrolriology.But for ul arl v Mont esquieu.Accor ding t o I it t r e, hou'ever t, he st ut lt ol
the moment, let us ask ourselvesrvhat thc practicaleffectso[this ntan' sorvn m ilieu uas r he pt ovir r ceol sociolcr gras m u<lr . r sof
revolution r1'crc.lD an 1846article containing a nevr translation pl l si cs or biologr , so t hat r hc pr escr ipt ionsol "pr ivat ehr gienc"
of Cels u s , I i ttre u a s n o t a fi a i d ro \i l i t e that " so l ong as physi ol - coul d cl aim onlv r hjst or ical r r r cm pir ical r at hcr t haD , r t her )
ogv lrns r)ot fullv constituted as a scietrce,there remained gaps rcti cal b1s i5. c5
H, r vingr lr it t t n sevcr alar t icleson t he clr oler aol
in which hypothescscould emcrge.But no'r, rhat it hasbecome, l l l 32, the cont agiousDess , ) i equincglanclcr and
s t he t r ansm ission
almost bt'fore our eves,a science, cvcry nredical system is dis- of thc pl a gue, Lit t r i' c, r uld har dlv liil r o com m cnt on L6r 'r 's

2t 6 2 tl
obs c r v .rti o nosn c n d c m i c i n (l e p i d c mi c di seases. N ot a w ord \vas i m p()rt.rDce must bc .rtt.rchtrlto varitrtts.rrticlesthJt .rPPeiredi n
s ai<a[
l x ru tc ri o l o g i c ! i n v o l v i n g n \i c ro org.rni snrs,
al thoughthe ar- Clrrrles Renouvit'r'sjournal, Io Critiquepbi.lostT,irigue the vcrr
'
ticlc on "l cptothrix" in the Dicfionnairc'rJcrnldeclnereported on . l8?8, t he iour nal pr r blished
ti tl t ofu 'hich \ 1asar r t iPosit ivistln
Casimir l)avaineand Picne FrangoisOlive Raver'srcscarchon the thrL'carticlesbv Pillc,non biologv an<lpositivism,two ol rT'hichsct
anthrax bacillus, and Littrd surelv knc\4 about this vvork orving Bcrnartlup trr Comtc's judge. In thc samclear Renouvier
Cl.rr,rde
t o his r e l a ti o n srv i th R a v e r.It $ ,a sn ot unti l 1880,i n an arti cl e poserl,and answeredin the ncgativc,rhis qucstiot't:"ls the Cours
ent it led " T l a n s ra ti o n a l i s n re ,"
th a t L i ttri nrcnti oned" the ci rcu- $as
lc phlotophicpositirc\rill abrcalt of st icrrceJ" Clltrde Ber.D,lr.d
lat ion o l i n l l n i tc s i ma l l r s ma l l [c re a turcs]that causci nl ecti ous proposcdas an ir lc, r logicalant idot c lo Ciom t e.No I t r iel account
dir"ur".",unbut bv then it uas no longcr possibleto ignort' l-ouis c.ln (lo iusticc to tht rt'lationsbetrveenl.ittr6's biological positiv-
Pasteur's*ork, Nevertheless,Littre's rcmlrks on public hvuiene isnr and Bcrnard'sguiding philosophv.On the onc h.rnti,Bcrnartl
in the third articlc are g'orthy ol attention. l:or Littr6, historv.rnd fi r undcrof anclpar t icipantin t he Soci6t 6de Biologiealong
' r' a,.r
s oc iolog t s e rv ea s i n s tru mc n tso f a n al \si s.I i ttri sccmsto harc rvith R.rler,Loui:-AtrgustcScgonclanclCharlcsRotrin' r.'hodr.rltetl
been particrrlarllalert to sociomedicalissuesassociatcdrlith the i ts ch.r r t crin a lianklv Posit ivistspir it at r <lt onc. I it t r 6's jour nal
r is e ol in tl u s tri a sl o c i e tl . l l c s tri k e so f f a fi l e phrase,rcmi ni scent Lo Philosophic po.rJtivc sho\r'e(lgreat interest in Bern.rtd'srlork,
of S aint -S i mo n": C i v i l i z e d m a n ... h a sassunrcrJ rcsponsi bi l i tvfbr. publ i sh ing, in t ht 'r 'ear ol his deat h, a ver r 'lr alanccdar t iclc bv
adm inis te ri n gth e e a rth , a n d a s c i v i l i zati on rdvances,that ardu- N l arhi asl) ur al ancl. r n ar t iclc br ' [ . it r e on dt 't cr m inisnr . f hese
ous administrationdeman<lscver more inge'nuitl and industr\."6? l actsrn. r l m u<ldrt hc ! r 'nt (r s, b( t t t her t lo not just ilv anr '[ r llt r r inq
I lur r r n l i l i , tl ro u g h , s u ffc rs fro m th e unanti ci patcd vet i nevi - of rhc I ines,lir r , r sr t t ent ive r eat ler s, r lBer nar clalr cat lr knolr ',hc
tablc efti'cts of thc conllict bctrveen rvork and nature. "ll.rving sc.r'celvconcealedhis hostilitv to Corr)te'sdogmatisrl. That hos-
bccome so complex, industrics cannot do rvithout thc oversight tilitl is cxprcsscdopcnlv at thc cnclol Bern.rrcl's most tritlelv read
of a higheragcncvthat appr-eciates thc dangers,prescr'r'esthe envi- \,,ork, thc lntroductioni I'iludc de lo ni<lccinectpirimentcrlc:"Posi-
r onm c n t. a n d d o e s n o r l e a v es u c h i mportanr i ssuesto thc scl fl ti \i snr, \ \ 'hich in r he nr nr e ol- sciencer eject sphilosophit al svs-
interest ()l l)rivnteirrdiriduals."r'3Thus, I ittri' had some pcrtincnt l cl l rs. er r t ils t he\ ( lo br being suclr a sr st cm . " l) cslt it e t hese
remarkst() offer on thc subject of ccologr, rcars before the word reser\at ions,of \ 1. hi( hLit t r ir r v. r spcr icct lv $c] lauar c. he sever al
rvascoinerl."')And no one can deny the claritv or couragc rlith times praisedBornarcl'smethods an(l the principlcs that inspirecl
\\'hich he cxpressedhis astcrnishment
that no civilizcd nation had them. llis 1855 ar t iclc on Nlagcndiccn<lsr vit h . r n acknor r 'lct Jg-
v et s eenfi t to e s ta b l i s h.r mi n i s trv o f publ i c hcal th.70[" Li tt16." mcnt ol Bcrn.rrd's\ul)criority orcr his rcachcr.l lrc thirteenth cdi-
.4(?sdu ColltrqucEntlc Littti, lll0l-l8E/, pp. )16-i1) tiol rrf thc I)i(ienndirc tlc nitlrin,: corrtnirrsn nuntl)(r ()l ,trticles,
f 98] We c a n n o l o n g e ra v o i d a b ri e Isunc] of the re.rcti onsof obl i ,ru slv ur it t en ll I it t r c, \ r 'hich r el; r im plicit l\ or ( xplicit lt '
Littr6's contemporaricsto rhis biological philosophv.I ittle atten- to B ern ar r l.While t hc ar t icle on "( ) bser vat ion" seem sr at hcr
tion ncc<lbe pai<ito the inevitablv biascdjuclgmentsof ofllcial to sum m ar izet hc r icr r s ol Conr t t . t hosc on "Expeliencc" and
spiritu.rli\tssuch as Paul lant't .rnd Fdme Caro; horvever,gre.rter " E rpcrinr ent at i<r n". u- ccond. ns, 'r t i( ) ns
of t lr t ' r 'ier rs ol ller nar d.

2 tlJ l 5e
"Experimentation" ends rvith the sanreconrparisonthat Bcrnard CH, r t 'r r x Twt t ! 'F
borrorved from GcorqcsCuviel the observer)istens,tht'cxpcri-
, h c a rti c l e o n " M e d i ci ne" menti onsB ernard' s
m c nt c r q u c s ti o n s T Claude Ber nar d
nam c in th c ri i s c trs s i o n
o f e x p e ri m e n talmedi ci ne. In B crnard' s
tcaching and conc('ption ol lifc, Lirtr6 no doubt saw argumcnts
c apablco fs u p p o rti n g h i s o rv n p e rs o n alconvi cti on that bi ol ogi -
cal phenomenacould not bc rcduced to physicsand chemistry.
["Littr6," ,4ctesdu ColloqueEmileLittti, ]801-1881, pp. 279-80]

A Philosoph ical Physiologist


[99] A philosophicalphvsiologist:arr.rnsedin that order, thc t\ao
* .ords cr y out f br an im m cdiat c cor r ect ion. Philosophicalher t r
doesnot meaninclined torvardmetaphvsics. Clatt<leBernardnevcr
cl ai med - as a phvsiologistand in t hc nam e ol phvsicr logY- to
q.r bclontl expericncc.He h.rdno Patiencewirh thc itleao{ rrleta-
phrsiologv,mcaningthe clainr to kno* nor jttst tht lar,s,or invari-
ants,of t hc or ganiclunct ions[ ) ut t he ver v cssenceol t hat plast ic
l brce * h ich r vc r cf i'r t o as lif e. But neit her did hc cvcr int end t o
l i mi t biological sciencct o t he nr er c r cPor t ing of expcr im ent al
resul ts.Rat her , bv "philosophicalphr siologist "I m ean a phvsi-
ologist rvho, at a given stagcin the e"olution of a rvell-established
science,cxplicitJv rccognizesthe fact that sciencc is aboveall .r
method ofstudy and research,and w.hosets himsclf the exprcss
task, thc per sonalr esponsibilit vt hat can be assignedt o no onc
cl se,ofpr oviding t hat m et hod r ', it h r f bundat ion.I n t his sense,
thc philosophical rvork ol the phvsiologistClaude Bernard pro-
vi dcd t hc f bundat ionlir r his sci<nt if ic r vor k. lust as ninet ecnt h-
centurv m at hem at icians s<. t hem r clv( st he t . r skof explor ing t he
loundationsol mathematics,r<-r too did a phvsicrlo{isttake it upon
hi mself t o est ablir h t hc lir undar ions, r f his disciplinc. ln bot h
cases,scicntistsassumedrcsPonsibilitvlbr u'h.rt h'rd prcviouslv- icsJChcmistrvlWho knorrs?Ic is [x ttcr t(l tlo anatonlr.fiohannes]
in the tinre of Descartcsas rvell as of Plato antl ''\risrotle- been trl nl l er,IFri edr ich]Ticdcm annan<lI l) : r oielFr ier lr ichlEschr icht
th e t as kof philos o p h v .Btrt th e fb u n c l a ti o n aul ' o t k of tht' mathe- turnc(lto anitorn\.
r(rre disgustcd.rnd
nrari(irns rvasvetl difli:rent from that of Bcrnarcl.\\brk on the
l i runr lat ionsoi m ath c m a ti c sh a sc ,rn ti n u c d tv e r si ncei i t hasbe- rvhat Bcrnarclrvantedtas a rvav,rftl,ring researclr
tn orher u'c-,rds,
comc an integral part ofmathenraticsitseJf By contrast,the trail in phvsiologvbascdon assutrrptions.rn<lprinciplcsstcmming from
blazcrl bv ClauclcBernardhas been ncgJcctr:dbv latcr phvsiolo- phrsi oJogvi tscl f, f iom t he lir ing or qanist r ,r at hcr t han on Pr in
gisrs - so ncglectcd, in fact, that rvhcn phvsiologiststodav feel ci pl cs, vi ervsanc lm ent al habit s im l) or t f ( l lr om scicncesas pr es-
rhc r r t ed t o jus t ilv d i s ti n c ti v e a s Pe c tso f th c i r rvork, thel fi c- ti gi ous,and as i nd ispensablet o t he r lor king phvsiologistas
, evcn
q l rent l) , and s om e ti mc sa n a c h ro n i s ti c a l l l ,ro l v on the l ' ork of phvsi csand chem ist r v.
Bcrnardhimsclf. ["Claude t3ernard,"Diologue,pp. 556-57] l here i s a chr onological {ict $ hosc im por t ancc cannot be
clevotcdto Francis over-stated: C Iau dc Bcr nar dalludeclr o r hc dist inct ivc char a( t cr
[100] In the feu lines that ClaucleBcrnard
Bacon(laudaton bv conventjonand critical bv conviction' though of phvsi ol ogi calexpcr im cnt at ionin public f ir r t hc f ir st t inlc or r
lessso rhan Bcrnard'scontemPorarYvon Liebi{)' he noted that L)(cembcr 10, 1 85'+,in t he t hir d l( ct t r r . cr ) f . l cour seon exper i-
"there itcrc great exPerimentalistsbefolc thefe lvasa doctrine nrent.rlphysiologvapplied to ntedicinc,rvhich he cleliverecl
at thc
<rler pc r im ent . r lis m."fh e re c a n tre n o d o tttrt th r t he mcant thi s Colli{e de Francein his la.f.rppearancetherc as l\lagcndic'rsub-
max im t o applv t .r h i ms e l f. An e x p l a n a ti o ntrn he l bund i n hi s sti tutc. l n rh.rtl t' c t ur e.he r et ier r eclt ht 't r pcr im er r t slr t <lt he con-
nc'tebools:"Lrervonc follou s his ou n prth. Somcundergolengthy ( lusir)nsr( porte(l in the doctolal thcsishe harl delendedthe vear
preparatir,,n anrl lbllou'thc path Jaidout for them. I took a tu'ist- l>elirreon a ner,vlvdiscovere<liLnction ol thc liver in humans.rnd
in{ r()ute t() science.rnd,abandoningthc l)eatcnPath, exemPted rni mal s - thc ab ilit v t o synt hesir eglucose. "lt is sur pr ising, "
nrvselllromall thc rulcs."What rulcsdid this rran rvho had learned Brrnard noted, "that an organic lunction ol such impor-tancc.rn(l
th e ex per im ent alm e th o d i n th e s h a d o u o l F rr ngoi s N l agendi c The reasonfor this
so rt:adilvobsen'eduas not discovcrcrlsocrner."
'l-heans\lcr can be gleaned f.ri l urc,hc shoued,las t hat ncar l- vall pr cviot t sphvsiologist har
s l
think hc had cxcmptcd himself from?
fiom thc namcsof trvo phlsiologists u hom llc quotes on scveral attempted to studv dvn. r nr icf t r nct ionslvit h m ct ho<lsbor r or led
occ.tsions:Ilemann von Helmholtz, torvarclrrhom hc rvasalu'ays fiom anatomv,phvsicsanclchemistrv:suchmctlrotls,though, rverc
respectfirl,and Emile Du Bois-Reymond,krr u hom his admira- i ncapabl cof l i el d ing ner r knouleclgca[ , out phvsiologicalphc-
tion rlrs lessunalloled. Thc rules Bernaldhad in nrind rvercthose tromena.The onlv $av to cxplain an,rrganichtnction is to obsen'e
of m.rthenr.rticalphtsics: i r i n.rcti on i n the onlr plac<'uhcr <it nr cr ninglullvexist s,t o uit ,
rl i thi n the orgarr ism Fr r lt 'r ir t r l . r pr - inciplrol
. om t his, Bcr n. r r <l .
I t h. r sbc c n s r ic lth .rt l l i rtrn < l* h a t I" a s n ' t l o rr ki ngl i r' . rvhercrs rl l ri cl r tht' l ntroduct ion,
publishc<lt leven r car s Lat cr nr
, ight f . r ir lv
llc lm holt r liunr l o n l v * h .rr b c l ,ro k i n ul i rr. Ihi s i s crrrrcct.but l re cal l edthc el ab or at ion:
' .,rs
t'xr'lusionarr prcscript;ons ;rrch,rlnrlirl.\\'har is phrsiologri' Phvs-

26 ]
Neitheranatomynor chemistrvcanans\,\'cr
a questionof phvsiology. of al l l i om t he f act t hat , behind t his plain t it lc, Ber n. r r dsvst em '
What is crucialis experimentation
on animals,rvhichmakesit pos- iltically pursued the consc<luences of a discoverYthat rvasa sur-
That discoverv
sibleto obsenethe mechanics
ofa functionin .rlivingcreature,
thus l)riscto him and a paradoxto his contemPorarics.
ler din gto th e c l i s c o v e ry
o f p h c n o mcna
rhat coul d not havebeen uas sct f br t h in t he doct or al t hesis hc dcf 'encled r r n, \ 1, r lch 17,
xhich cannotbe studicdin anr other\\nv.
Prcclictcd. 185l : "Recher chcssur une nouvclle lbnct ion dt t loie consid( 'r d
' oduct et t rdc m at iir e sucr i t chez I 'hom nr c ct
commc or gaD( Pr
Thc lccturesat the Colldgede Fr.rncefirllo*'ed Bernard'scom- chcz l e s anim aur . "'f his t hcsisr let hr onedt he do- qm aaccor r ling
plc t ion o 1 * ,o rk o n h i s d o c to ra tc , s o t h! asserti onthat " there to uhi ct r . r nim als,being incapableof sr nt ht 'sizingt hc nut r i( nt s
rveregreat experimentalistsbcfbrc thcre rvasa doctrine ofexper- tht:v nced, must ingestvegctablematter in orclcrto obtain them.
im ent alis m "a n d th c i n s i s te n c eo n h a v i ng l el t " the beatenpath" Bcrn.rrd,in his uork on glvcogenesis, showedthat that thc liver can
\\'ere more than literarv flourishes;thev rveregeneralizationsof sl nthcsir e glucoseand, t hcr cf br e, t hat anim alsneed not obt ain
the lessonsBernardhad drawn from his orvn intellectual adven- thjs substancefiom plants. IPrcfice, 1.cqons, p. 9l
turc. Nothing else is worthv of the namc "nrcthod." As Gaston f102] For our pur poses,it is not im por t ant t hat Ber nar dob-
Bachelardhasrvrittcn in I6e,\ter Srientrfc.Splrrt,"Concepts and tai ncd his r esult bv dint of f lar vsin his chem ical analvt ict cch-
m et hods a l i k c d c p e n d o n e m p i ri c a l re sul ts.A ne$' experi ment ni qucsand r ough apploxim at ionsin his m casur em enr s, Tl- r cf ict
m av I c ad to a l u n d a rn e n tacl h a n g ei n s c i enti fi c thi nki ng. In sci - that he dct ect ed t r o glr r cosein t hc por t al vein bt t t r lir l r let ect it
enc e. aDy ' d i s c o u rs co n n c th o (l ' c a n o nh l te provi si onal ;i t can r ein led hinr t o conclude- an( l t hen t o ! er -
i n thc sr r per hepat i<
nev erhop c to < l c s c ri b cth e d e fi n i ti v e compl exi on of the sci en- i l v - that r hc livcr not . , nlv ! c( r ( t es bile but also pt oduccr st he
tific spirit."rr NcrtnithstandingBachelrrd'sdialectic,llinsistcnce, gl ucos et hat is t 'ssent ialt o 5ust ainingliving t issueand cnabling
it is bv no me a n sc l e a r th a t B c rn a rdh i n l s(' 11(l i dnot succumbto variouspnrts of .rnimal organisms,in particul.rr th(' muscles,to
t he bc lief th a t h c rv a sd e s c ri b i n gth e " d efi ni ti ve consti tuti on of liir h in his ver ilicat ion pr ocedur e,
cl o thcir r vor k. \ et Ber nar <l's
the scientific spirit" in phvsiologv.Yet he clearlv undcrstood,and thc fimous "clean liver" cxpcriment, rvas.rlsogreatcr than the
taught, thnt physiologyvvouldhaveto changcbccauseit had seen accur.rcvof his methods \\'arrantcd.His genius, horvever,rvasto
somethingDe\\r,somethingso ncrv that it lbrc,.'dBernarclto agree Itavegraspedat on( c t hc signif icancc,im plicat ions and consc-
rvith thc jurlgnrentthat somehad uttered in cliticism of his rvork: quencc sof his disco't 'r r .
that he had forrnd he $'asnot looking l'or.Indeed.one might Fi rst , he ur r r Jr : r st oor l lr e had t aken t he lir st st ep t ouar d
t hat
'r'hat
evengo so fir asto savthat hc had lbund thc opposite ofrvhat he thc solut ion ol r 1>r o[ r lenr r hat dat ed back t o t he t 'ight eent h
rvaslooking tbr. IFtucJci,pp. 1-+a-a6] <enrurr: \\'h.rt \1'.rsth{ firrlctiori ,rf the so-ca)lcdductlcssgland-.
(or.bl ood lesselgl. r nds)such as t hc t hvr oid?Bcr nlr d solvcdt his
The lmplicqtions of a Porodoxicol Discovery probl cm t hr , r ugh. r ser iesol exper im cnt s int ende( l t o det r r on-
[ 101] 1h( i m p o rta n c e ,th e n a n d n o rv ,ol the l eqonssu l et phd- strate the ne\ \ 'concept of "int er nal secr et ion"11855) ,a phr ase
nominestlc la vic communsou\ dnimau\ cl dur r'1gy'f.?u.,r stcms first that onlv a 1c\\'vcitrstrrlir:r'rvould havclrccn takenas.rcontradic-

161 265
t ion in t er m s , a n i mp o s s i b i l i tya s u n th i nkabl eas n squareci rcl e. philosophical,or, to usc a term Jesssuspcctto thc scientillc mind,
Second,and morc important, Uernardunderstoodthat he had logical.That ideacan bc summeclup in a scntcnccfirst
n.rctaphvsio
lrit upon an argumcnt c.rpableof exploding a theorv flrmlv estab- \\' ri ttcn i n 1878:"Thcr c is but one uav ol lif e, one phlsiologv,
lishcd in the minds of contemporarvchemists.Whatevermisgiv- fbr all living things." ["Claude Bcrnar<l,"Diologuc,pp. 560-621
ingr or r e ma r h a r, ,rl ' ,.ttti l l u s tr.rti v c( o m pJri \on:\,.r comprri ron
1103] I n t he eight ccnt hcent ur v,I m m anuel K. r ntar guedt hat
her e is ir r e s i s ti b l e ,Wh c n Ga l i l c o o b s c rv cdspotson the sun, he thc condit ions undcr *hich phvsicalscicncc \ \ 'asPossible$cr c
dclivcrt'cla clecisiveblorv to the old Aristotelian distinction be- the trrnscendent alcondit ionsol knowlcdgc in gcner al.Lat er ,in
twccn the sublunarvrvorld, supposeril,-susceptibleto generation Part Irlcr o{ thc Critiquc oJ PracticalRcoson,entitled "The Criticlue
and corruption, and thc supralunarvrvorld, supposedlvcternaland ol -l el col o gicalJudgm ent , " he m odif lcd t his vieu, acknouledg-
incorruptible. Hc taught mankind to scc analogousthings in anal- i ng that or ganism sr ver et ot alit ics lvhoseanalvt icdccom posit iot t
ogous uays. Similarlv, rvhcn Claude Bcrnanl discovcrerlthc gly- and causalexplanationrveresubordinatt'to an ideaol'finalitv, thc
cogenic lirnction of the liver, he deliverecla clecisiveblorv to thc governingprinciplc of all bioJogicalrcscarch.According to Kant,
old dis t inc ti o n b e tl e e n th e p l a n t a n c la n i mal ki ngrl oms,accord- thcre coul<lbe no "Ncrvton o1 a blac]eofgrass." ln other rvords,
ing t o u' hi c h p l a rrtsc a n a n d a n i ma l sc annot synthesi zesi mpl e the scientific statusof biologv in thc cncvclopediaof knou ledgc
or ganic c om p o u n rJ si,n p a rti c u l a rh y d ro carbons.l l c taught thc could nevercompare*ith that ofphvsics. BelbreClaudc Bcrnar<|,
human t'vr.:to scc lifc in a nc\\ rvav,rvithout rlistinction betrvccn bi ol ogi st s uer e f br ct 'd t o choose bet ueen idcnt if ving biologv
plant and a n i m a l . ui th phl s ics, in t hc m annerol t he m at cr ialist sanclm echanist s,
In thc fbrtieth fessonof the Courstlephilosophiepositivc,Auguste or raclicallvdistinguishingbenvcen thc tuo, in the manncr ol the
Com t e had \\' ri tte n i n 1 8 1 8 th a t rv h i l e t he:rt'ncrc hun< l rcdsof frcnch naturalistsand (lerman naturc philosoplrers.Thc Nervttln
*av s t o liv c , th e re \\' a sp ro b a b l v o n l v o ne \1i v to cl i e a natural of the l i ving or ganismr vasClaucleBcr nar r l,in t he senset hat it
dcath. In 1851,Cl:rudcBernardproved tlrat there rvasno clivision llas he rvho realized that living things providc the kt:v to deci-
ol labor am o n gl i v i n g th i n g s :p l a n ts rv c rc not csscnti alas suppl i - phcring their o* n structurcsanrl firnctions.Rcjcctingboth mech-
c r s of t hc g l u c o s en i th o u t rv h i c h a n i mal scannot l i ve. l he trvo ani sm .rn clvit alism , Ber nar duas ablc t o clevelopt cchniquesol'
kingdoms do not lbrm a hierarchl, and there is no teleological bi ol ogi cal cxpcr im cnt at ionsuit t 'd t o t lr c specilic nat ur e of t hc
subordinationol one to the other. l his discovcrvpavcdthc rvay obj cct ol st udv.I t is im possiblenot t o be st r uck b! t hc t or t r ast ,
fbr a gcncral phvsiologv,a scicncc of the lif'e lunctions, and this pr.obablvunrvitting,br.:tuccnthe lblloll ing two p.rssagcs. In 1c(on.t
clisciplineimmecliatelygained a place in thc academvalongside sur lcsphinomincs ph.rsique; dc la yie (l-csronsof Dcccmber 28 and
comparativephvsiology.From Bernarcl's
doctoral thcsisto the last 10, l 8l 6), I - r anc; ois, \ lagendie
r vr ot e,"l set t he lung r s a bellous,
courseshe gaveas prolessorol generalphvsiologvat the illusa'um the trache. ras an air t ubc, and t hc glot t is as a vibr at ing r ecd.. . .
(published in 187ti as Leqonssurlesphinomincsde la vie communs We h.rvean optical .rpparatusfirr orrr eyes,.r musical instruncnt
du\ onineux ct ou\ villdtdu\\, his *ork rvasall aimed at proving fbr our voiccs,a living r et or t lbr our st om aclr s. Bcr
" nar d,on t hc
t he v alidit v o l a s i n g l eg u i d i n g p r.i n c i p l c,rvhi ch rni ght be cal l ed othcr han d,in his Colr icrt / cnot c. rwr
! ot ct "The lar vnx is. r lar lnx,

1\i7
and rhc lcns of the eve is the lcns of thr cvc: in othcr rvtrrds,the cr.rblectlerence bcnveen the blood's rclation to the lun(s .rnd
mcchanicaland physicalconditions ncc('ssaryfor thcir existence its relatrn to the liver. In thc ltrngs,the organismintcracts \\ ith
arc satisfledonlv rvithin thc living organism."Thus, rvhile Bemard thc inorlanicworld through the blood, rl hereasin the liver thc
took {rom Lavoisier and l-aplacc bv u'ay of l\lagendic *'hat he him- organisnintcractsrvith itself. Thc point is important cnough that
s elf c alled th c i d c a o l " d e tc rm i n i s m," hc * as the sol e i nventor it bcarsepeating:rlithout the idea of intcrnal secretions,rherc
ol the lriologicalconcept ol the "internaI cnvironrrrent,"the ton- coulrl bt no ideaol an internalenvironment.,rnds ithout thc idca
c c pt t hat fi n a l l v e n a b l e dp h y s i o l o g vto become a determi ni sti c ot an i n: r nal cnvir onm ent ,t her e could bc no aut ononr oussci-
s c ienc eon a p a r w i th p h v s i c sb u t w i th out succumbi ngto fasci - ence of:hvsiologv.Iftudcs, pp. 1,17-,18]
nation with the phvsicalmodel. [Erudes,148-49] [l05 The concept of the intcrnal envinrnmentthus dependul
on the I ior fbrmulation of thc concept ol internal sccretions;it
The Theorcticol Foundotions of the Method a)sodep : ndcdon cell t heor v,whose cssent ialcont r ibut ion Ber -
[ 104] lhe u n u s u a l ,rn d a t th e ti m e p a r adoxi cal natr.rrc
, of11hat n.rrdacc:ptedcvcn as he greu' incre.rsingivskepticalof the thc-
Bernarclhad "inadvertently"discoveredvvasn,hat enabledhinr to orv oItl , : lbr m at ivebl. r st cm e.Cell t heor v'scr ucial cont r ihut ion
conceptualizehis earlv resultsin such a way as to cleterminethe wasils irsistcnceon the Jutonomv of the anatomicalcomponents
courseofall his fLture rcscarch.Without the concept ofthe inner of comJex or ganism sand t heir f unct ionalsubor dinat iont o r he
environnrent, it is impossible to undcrstaDdBernard'sstubbon morpho ogicalr vholc, Bcr nar clsquar elvcnr br accclcell t heon:
adv oc ac vo t a tc c h n i q u c th a t h e d i d n o r i nvent but to rvhi ch he "This ct I thcorv is more than just a word," he \1rote in his lcqors
lc nr nc v r 'i m p e tu s r rh e te c h n i q u e o fv i v isecti on, rvhi ch he w as sur ltr piinomines alt I(1| ie communsau.\ (1nimau.\et aut riqitoux.
obliged to del'endagainstboth emotional outragc and the pro- Bv so dtrng, he rr,asabl<rto portrav phvsiologvas an experimen-
tcsts of Romantic philosophv."Ancient sciencervasable to con- tal sci en er vit h it s o* n dist inct ivem et hods.I n lict , cell t heor v
c eiv c only o f th c c x te rn a l e n v i ro n m e n t, but i n order to pl ace made it rossiblcto undcrstandthe relation betrveenthe part and
biologicalscienceon an experimentalfboting one must alsoimag- the uhr e, t he com posit e. r ndt hc sim ple, in a r vayt hat dilleled
inc an interndlenvircnmcnt.Ibelievethat I rvasthc first ro express sharplr:-om tlre nr.rtlrenratical
or nrechanicalmodel: the cell rc-
this idca clearlv and ro stressits importancc in understandingthe vealeda.vpc ofmorphological structurequite diflirent liorn that
need lbr experimentationon living things." Note that the concept of carlie "artifacts" and "machines."It becamepossibleto irnag-
of the intcmal cnvironm('ntis given here as the theoreticalunder- i ne rvay,ol analvzing,dissect ingand alt er ingliving t hings using
pinning ofthe technigue
ofphvsiologicalexperimentation.In 1857, mechnn-'al,phvsicalor chcm ical t echniquest o int er vencin t he
Bernard$ rote, "The blood is made lbr the organs.That much is econom ol an or ganjt u holc *. it hout int er liling *'it h it s esscn-
true. But it cannot be repeatedtoo olten that it is also madc by ti.rl orgaricnature.The fifth of thc I4ons de ph.rsiologic
opiratoire
the organs."What alloued Bernard to propose this radical revi- contai nra num bcr ol cr ucial passagcs on t his ne$ conc( 'pt ion
sion ol hematologvu'asthe concept of internal secrctions,wlrich of the rilation betrlccn the parts and the ruhole. First, Uernard
he had fbrmulated trvo vearscarlier. Aficr all, there is a consid- expl ai nrthat "all or gansand t issuesar e not hing but a com bina-

z1,9
tion of anatomicalelements,and the life of thc organ is thc sum analvticalstudv of firnctionspossiblc.In the Principes
de mitlecine
ofthe vital phcnomenainhcrent in eachtvpc of element."Sccond, c\peimcntdle,Bcrnar<J nrote, "For analvzinglilc phcnomcna, is
hc points out that thc converseof this proposition is filsc: "ln it bettcr to studv higher or lo\\ er animals?The cluestionhasbcen
attempting to analvzclifc bv studying the partial lives of thc var- e\anrincdfiequentlv.Somc savthat the lor,er animalsare simplcr.
ious kinds ofanatomical elements,wc must avoid an error that is I do not think so, and, in anvcase,one animal is ascomplcte asthc
all too casy to make, rvhich is to assumethat the nature, form ncxt. I think, r at her ,t hat t hc highcr anim r ls ar c sinr plerbecause
and neeclsof thc total lif'e of thc individual are the samcas those rhcy are morc lirllv differentiated." Similarlv, in Notcsdiroclies
of the anatomical clements." In othcr uords, Bernard'sgcncral he obscr vedt hat "an anim al higher up t he scaleexhibit s m or c
phvsiologvgrervout of a comtrinationof the concept of the inter- highlv difli:rcntiateclvital phenomena,rvhich in somc wavs arr
nal c nv ir on me n trv i th th e th c o rv o f th e c el l , rvhi ch cnabl edhi m sinrplcrin naturc,\4hereasan animal loller dou'n thc organicsc.rlt:
to dcvelop a clistinctivccxpcrimental method, onc that vvasnot cxhibits plrcnomennthat are more confiscd, IcssfLllv cxprcssed,
Cartesianin stvlc yct conceded nothing to vitalism or Romanti- an< lmore dilllcult t o dist inguish. " ln ot her r vor ds, t he m or e
cism. In this rcspect, Bernard rvasradicallv dillerent fiom both compl cx t lr e or ganism ,t hc m or ( 'dist inct t he phvsiologicalphe-
GcorgcsCuvicr, the author of the lctter to Nlertrud that sen'erias norncnon.I n phvsiologv,r list inct m eansdiller ent iat ed,and t hc
pref)ce to Cuvier's I elonsd'anatornieconrpar&,and Auguste Comte, firnctionallvdistinct must be studicd in thc morphologicalllcom-
the author of thc fbrtieth lesson of thc Coursde philosophiepositive plex. In thc clementarvorganism,evcn'thing is cor-rfirseri because
and a fiithful disciplc ofBlainville's introduction to thc Coursde m
e' ervthi n g is conf bunded.ll t he I awsof Car t csian cchanicsar e
ginircle et comparie. For all three of thcse authors -
ph.veiololTie best stud icd in sim plc m lchincs, t he lavvsol Ber nar dianphvsiol-
Cuvicr, Comtc and Blainville - comparativcanatomv $'asa sub- ogv are b est st ucliedin com plcx or ganism s.I Fr ur lcr pp.
, l4c) - 51]
s t it ut e f or e x p e ri me n ta ti o n ,rv h i c h th e v hel d to be i mpossi bl e
llecausethe arralvticscarchfbr the simple phenomenonino itablv, Life, Deoth and Creotion
or s o t hc y b c l i c v e d ,d i s to rts th e e s s e n ccof thc organi sm,rvhi ch ll06] All of llernarcl'slork bearstracesol thc stru.qglrthat \r'cr1t
lir nc t ionsh o l i s ti c a l l v .N a ttrrc ,b v c x h i b i ti ng (i n C uvi er' srvords) on in his mind benr,eenhis profbundbut not unconditionaladmi-
" near lv all p o s s i b l ec o m b i n a ti o n so f o rg ansi n al l the cl assesof rati on fi ) r Xavicr Bichat and his sinccr cgr at it ude lbr t he lessons
anim als , "a l l o rv e dth e s c i e n ti s tto d ra r, " vcry pl ausi bl econcl u- hc hacllcarnedfronr FrangoisNlagenclie. llt Bcrnardlbttnd a rvav
sionsconcerning the naturc and use ofeach organ." Bv contrast, to reconcile t he t r vo m cn's conf lict ing philosophiesof biologv
Bcrnard sarvcomparativeanatom! as a prerequisitefor develop- u ithout compromisingcither. Ilc did this trl pcrsistentlvcxploit-
ing a gencral phlsiologv on the basisof cxPerimentsin comPara- ing his ou n firndamcntalexperinrentsand the ncrv concepts he
tivc phvsiologv.Comparativcanatomy taught physiologiststhat hatl been obliged t o lir r nr ulat cin or dcr t o int cr pr ct his r esult s.
-l ' ht:
nature laid the groundrvork lbr phvsiologvbv proclucinga vari- upshot r las a "f undam t 'nr alconccpt ion of Jile" incor por at -
ctv ol structureslbr analvsis.Paradoxicallv,it wasthe incrcasing i ng tuo lapidar vpr oposit ions:"lif i is cr cat ion" ( I t t 65) and "lif i'
inc liv idua ti o no f o rg a n i s m si n th e a n i mal seri esthat macl ethe i s < l eath"( 1875) .

) 70 271
Lile is dcath. Ily this Bernard meant th.rt a rvorkin{ organism nrcnt. Bcrnard thus rtjected any attcmPt to Portravhis doctrine
is an organismengagcdin the processof dcstrovingitself, and that as.r ki nd of vit alism or as som ehor vim plving t hat I if e'is exem pt
it s f unc ti o n s i n v o l v ep h v s i c a la n d c h e mi cal phenomcni that can l r' ,,mtht la'r r ol'physir . anr lchent ist r v.
be unde rs to o di n te rmso fth e l a w so f(nonl i vi ng) matter. Lilc is crcation.I{ Bernard 1lnsnot a nrcch.rnist,rvashe not a
Wasthis a mechanistpositionTAbsolutclynot. Norv that chcm- materialistinsofarashc attemptedto basethc lar"'sof living things
istrv rvas.rpositivesticnce, the variousfornrsofenergr had been crnthose of inert mattcr? Thc ansu'eris no, l.lecaust'he insisted
unif ied b v a l a n ' o l c o n s e n a ti o n ,a n d thc erpl anati onofel ectri cal that " l i l e is cr cat ion. "What dir l he m can bv t his?
phenomenahad nccessitatedthe formulation of the new concept The phrase"life is death" acknorvledgetlthe porverof phvsi-
of a " f iel d " - i t u a s n o l o n g e r p o s s i bl eto be a stri ct nrechani st. cal .rnclchemical laws over what is org.rrrcin living organisms.
l\lore than th.rt, Bernardfbund in his concept of the internal envi- The phrase"lif'e is creation" ackno" ledgcd thc distincti'enesso1
ronment vet another rcason not to be a mechanist. lrlechanisrn thc organism'sorgani/qtion.Vital crcation, organizingst'nthesis-
implied a geometrjc representationof things: the mcchanistphv- theseterms referredto that asPectof lif'e that Bernar<lalso callecl
siciansof the eighteenth ccnturv had rcpresentedthe organism "cvolution," though not in the Darrviniansensc,sincc it reti'rrccl
asa machinecomposedof interkrcking parts.But Bcrnarddid not onl v to cr n( ogcnet ic<le. elopnr entI.t was t he onc l) henonr enon
think of organismsasmachines,althoughhc continued to use the of life u'ith no nonorganicanaloguc:"lt is uniquc, peculiarto liv-
phrasem.rciine rivonte(n'ithout in any rvar being bound bv the i ng thi ngs. 'I his cvolut ionar ysvnt hesisis nhat is t r ul\ vit al in
nr et aph o r). fh e i n tc rn a l e n v i ro n n re n trvel dsthe parts together l i ' i ng things, "TrBer nar r applicd
l t hc t er nr "or ganic cr e. r t ion"t L)
in a who l c i m m e d i a tc l va c c e s s i b l eto e achonc. The organi smi s l roth chc r nicalsvnt hesis,or t hc const it ut iot rol pr ot oplasm ,and
not rooted, as $.c representit, in metric space.lndecd, the exis- morphological svnthesis,or the rcconstitution of substanccsde-
tence ol thc internalenvironmentnssurcsthe "highcr" organism- strovedb v t he f ir nct ioningof t ht or ganism C:
. r cat ionor . \ olut ion
s o- c allc c bl c c a u s ei t p o s s e s s ern
s i n ternal envi ronment - of an r,rasthe living cxplessiono1'tlrcorganism'snt c<lto strttcturenlat-
" obv ious i n d e p c n d e n c e ,"" a p ro te c ti v emcchani sm," .rn" el asti c- ter. ["Clau<lcBernard," Dtdlofu,r,pp. 566-68]
itv."72Thus, the relation of the organismto the environment is [107] ln Bernard'smost carefullv 'ritten tcxts - thc Introdttc-
nDt one of passivedepenrJcnce. tion. the RdppottanclL,r Scienrcetpirimcntolc- he distingLrishcd
What is morc, it u'asbecausr Bernardrvasnot a mcchanist- bet* cen / . r r , s,u hich ar e gener aland applicablet o all r hings,anr l
and knerv that he was not seen as one - that hc alrvavsinsisted lormsor proccsses, rvhich are spccilic to organisms.-l.hisspccilicitv
t hat s c ie D c ei n g e n e ra l ,a n d h i s p h v si ol ogvi n parti cul ar, w .erc is somctimcstermerl "nrorphological,"sometinrcs"evolutionarv."
detcrntinistic,and firrther,that he rvasthc [irst (asindeed he was) In fact, i n Ber nar cl's
lcxi<on,er olut ion r ef cr st . r t he r cgul. r rdevel-
to introduce thc tcrm "determinism" into the languageofscien- opment ol an inclividu.rlliorn inception to nraturity.Tlrc mature
tists and philosophers.Thc macroscopicorganism'srelativeinde- lorm is the sccret imperativcol the evolutiorr.In thc /ntroduction
pcndence of thc enr ironmr'nt was cnsured by the determinatc ht statesr hat "ep(cilic, er olut ion, r n,phlsiologicalconr lit ionsar e
<lependence
of its microscopic elcmentson the intctn:rl environ- rhc qukl prop um ol [riologicalsci(nc(i,"and rhc Aapporrconfirnrs

172 ) 7)
t his r iel: " l t i s o b v i o u sth a t )i ri n g th i n gs, br.narureevol uri on- thought or t nechanism s. "tRecall,
6 t oo, t hat her edit v,uhich u, r s
.rrv and regenerative,diffel raciicailvfiom inorq.rnicsubst.rnces, still ln obscureconccpt an(l ber'ondntan'sreachin 187(r,neltr-
r n( l t he v ita l i s ts .l rec o rre c t to s a vs o ." 7 1Ihc di fl crcncc betrveen thelessscenteclto Bernarrlan essenti.rlclcmcnt of thc lar,'sol nrttr-
biologv an d th c o th c r s c i e n c e si s th a t bi oJogvtakcsaccount of phology,of ontogeneticcvolution.tt Am I stretchingu'ortls,then,
the guiding principle of vital evolution,of thc "idca that expresscs ordi stor t ing Ber nar d'sm caning,il l suggestt hat , in his onn r T'ar
thc naturc of the living being and the vcry clscnce ollife.",-t and i n delianceof t he r cigning supr . em acv of phvsicalconcept s
The notion ofan organicguiding principle mav vlell havcbeen i n bi ol ogr , he uas f br m t r lat inga con( . ( pt sim ilar t o r vhat t odar 's
t he guidin g p ri n c i p l c o l C l a u d eBe rn a rd' sphi l osophyof bi ol ogy. bi ol ogist s,educat cdlr v cyber net ics,c, ] ll t he genet ic cot lci'Tht '
Th,rt nrar be uhv it renraincd sonrervhatvague, maskedbv the \\'ord "co(le," after all, hasmultiplc mcanings,anclrvhcn Bernarcl
1'cryteflns it used to e\pfcs5 thc idca of organiz.rtion- vital idea, \rrore that the vital fi)rcc haslegislati|el)(,rers, his mrtaplror nr.r\
v it al < lc s i g n ,p h e n o me n .rlo rc l e r,d i rc c t cd order, arrangemcnt, onlv a
l ravebcen a har bingcrof t hings t o com e. [ 3uthc glim psr : <l
orclering,r'ital prcordering,plan, blueprint, anclfbrntation,among part ofthe tirture, for he docs not seem to haveguessedthat evcn
others. Is it too audaciousto suggestthat with thcsc concepts, i nfi rrmat ion( or , t o usc his t cr m , legislat ion)r er luir esa ccr t ain
cquivalentin Bernard'smind. hc intuitivelv sensedrvhat rvc might quanti tv ol ener gv.Alt hough he called his ( loct r ine "phvsic; r l
nor r adav sc a l l th c a n ti ra n d o mc h a ra c tcrof l i fc - anti rancl omi n vi tal i sm, "ls it is lcgit im at e t o ask r vhet her ,givcn his not ion ol
t he s ens cn o t o l i n d c tc rmi n .rteb u t o f n cgati vcentropri A notc phvsi calI or ce anr i his f iilur e t r i gr ant t he "vit al idca" t he st at us
in t hc f iop p o rrs c c msl o s u p l )o rtth i s i n tc rpretati on: ol a l brce, he r eallr uent ber ond t hc nr ct Jt ) hvsic.vit
r l alism t hat
he con<lcnt nedin Bichat .I f r ulir . pp. 158- 6{] l
Il spccialmarerialconditionsilrf nccr'ssarv to crclte spccilicphc-
n()mcn.tot nutrition or er()lritiou,that docsnot meanthat thc Iarv The l deo ol f t pcr im ent ol M edicinc
th.rtgivcsmcaningt(), ()r crcatr!,rel.rtions
ol ordcr andsLlccessi()n [108] Just is cer t ain philosophcr sbelie'c in an et cr nal phjlor o-
lmong phcnomen,r
conteslrom mattcritscll. lb argucthc contrarv phv, many phvsicianscven today Lrclic'r'in an etcrnal anclprimor-
u ouic lb c to l a l l i n to th t c ru d cc rro ro l th e rnateri al i srs. cl i .rlmedicine. t hat of llippocr at es, - f o\ om e, t hcn, it m r y seem
rlclibrratclr pr)\'()cativethat I datc the I'eginningol modcrn mcrl
In anv case,therc cnn bc lo doubt that Bcrrr.rrd,in thc lnlrorluc- i ci ne fr om t he I r r onr cntr r hcn cxper im r nt ll nr edicinc r lcclar er l
tl<rn,identificd phvsicalnature l ith disor<lcr,.rnd rhar he rcgarded \\' ar (JDt hc Hillpocr at ic t r ar lit ion. lb do s<-isr not t o ( lir ip. r r . r ge
rhc properties of lifc as irrprobable relative to thore of martcr: l l i ppocr ar cs.I n f ict , Claude Ber n. r r dm . r clef r ee ust 'ol Conr r c's
"l Iere asalrvavs,evcrythjngcomcs from the idea that createsand larvof tlrree stagesol'lruman clcvcloprncnt.He acknonledgcd rhat
guidesall t h i n g s . A l l n a tu ra l p h e n o m e n aexpressthemsel vcsby " thc stageol exper im ent alm eclicinedcpent ledon a pr ior evolu-
phr s ic oc he m i c a m
l e a n s ,b u t th o s e m e a n sof cxJl ressi on
arc di s- ti on." ' - ')Yet , while hist or t showsllippocr . r t c! t . ) havebccn t he
rritrutedhaphazardlv likc charactcrsofthc alphabctin a bor, lrom founder ol olrscnation.rlmt:tlicint.,cor-rctrn tirr the firturc is lblc-
r r hic h a lir rc c e x tra c tsth e rn i n o rd e r to e xpressrhe most di vcrse i ng mer licir r enot t ( ) r cnounc( llilt pot r . r t csbut t o <livestit scll ol

171 )l\
his m et h ,6 1 j . T h e tl i p p o c r' rti cm e th o d rl as to rel v on nature; ilcst themselvesin pathologicalPhenomena."85 "Whatcvcr cxists
,,rb...r'", ion, lnedicine ua: Passive, contemplative and descrip- pathol o gicallym ust pr esentand explain it sclf phvsiologically. "86
tive. Ex[)cril-.,ntal medicin, is aggressive science'"With the aid fhus, it follou's that "the experimental phvsicianshall bring his
,rf th. .ri ,i r" . 'rrr^"ntol uir 's' man bccomes an inventor of phe- in[]ucnce to bear on a clisease once he knorvsits cx.rct dctelrnin-
-a
the fa.loryof creation and there is no limit Irm, tha t is, it s pr oxint at e cause. "87I t uas indecd t im e t o sal
nomena, 1 man in
to the p\ow( h.rt hc may t'ltain ovcr naturc "8L BY contrast' an fireu,ell to expect.rnrnrt'dicine. Pierre lean (ieorge C.rbrnishad
obs er v at j .rn rc i e n c e " p re i i c ts ' rv a tc hcs'a\oi ds, [rut acti vel Y c;rrlierdistinguishctllretrveenthe Ancicnts' art oI obsen'ation.rnd
ahorg.r rr.r,- rg."8lln Ptrt).trlar' "observationalmedicine exam- the lVloderns'artof exPerimentation.Bernardsarvthe historl' of
ines, obs."r.r,. explainsiliresscs but does not touch riiscase " sci cnti fic m er licine in sim ilar t er m s: "Ant iquit r does not seem
'nd
W hen I l; l i p ..ra te s ] a b a n dx. e dPu re e xP (' ctati onto admi ni ster to havec onceiveclof t he idea o[ exper im cnt al scicnccor , at anv
r em r . die .- i .r. to ( o u ra g (n J turt' \ .' \tn tcndenci cs.ttr r.ate,to have believeclin its possibilitv."stlBut insteaclof linking
" l * to u .'
t r o. , " n . t i i ." ,.. rh ro u g l ri ts r.: rl a r P h a s e' " ' ^'[r' rnard appl i ed the mcdicine and obscrvationto the Ancients,asCabanisdid, Bernard
, l. , . ig. r " 1 .1 o n fi p P o c ra ti c "r' 'a n y .mo dcrndoctor uho fai l ed to urgc<lmedicine to set out on the Pathof experimetrrationtou'ard
p ri o ri ty , and rvho $as concerned a l i rture of dom inat ion and por ver ."To dom inat c living nat ur e
. u, ,.i n ,.,, Pa ti e n th i s :' P
- ok . diseascs - rvho chosediagnosisancl
above all 1 al',rincand .1.rr'.' sci enti ficalh, t o conquer it f or t he bencf it <, fm an: t hat is t he
' (\' \\e rc ( l te n" rsol ol i ' ts: Thomas The idca of '
nr oqn( , \ j i - d l r< J l l n e n l . fi rndament alidea of t hc cxpcr im ent alph\ sician. "8'r
S 1d. . nho ,r,.,,'rn ' . q o i s B o i ' s i d e Sa u v a gerrl c l a C r' ri r' P hi l i ppe crpcri m cot al m eclicine,t he dom inat iou of living nat ur e, s'as
P i, r t . l. . , * .r-.n r.." -fh tro p h i l ,l ta c i n tl rr laFnnl c' anrlal l rhe oth- the opp osit cof t hc llippocr at ic icleaas expr essedin t hc t it le o1'
ers u h() hellhat (liseases .xrc essencesthat manifestedthem- Toussaint( luindanr 's 1768 t r eat ise,"l- a Nat ur e oppr im ee par la
selves mraortrilcn tlran not imPure fbrnr' In;ddition, Bernard m6decinemoderne."eo[Etudes,p. l3l]
brancle.l , asoft naturalistsrthc phvsicians,including Rudolph [109] Bernardtook from FrangoisMagendienot onlv thc namc
Vircho*...7, uiusince the 5;r' ofGiovanni BattistaMorgagni and of the ne* discipline he r vasabout t o cr eat c but also a cer t ain
Bichat, . pai,nked fcrr e116lical relations bctn'een changesin icleaof u'hat its content should be: namel-v, that the subject mat-
anat om ir i o a l ,c .rtc tu rc a sn d .:l e c ta b l es y nl P tomsi n thc hope of ter and m et hod of phvsiologvshould bc t he s. m e as t hosc of
rhe basisof a scicnce of dis-
mokin. f,[,gic.rl anator .nerr
pathologv.ln one ol his legont sur lesphinomincsphrsiquesdc lo
case. F q , - 7,/f "l "dara rd ,
r < 1 ' u l rr)rl i , ' t
h c l i e v e i n the eri ' rencc ofdi s- st at eclt hat "pat hologl is. r lso
vi c(l )ec em ber28, l8l6) , Nlagendie
zaq ti ri rr, rh e u tr-rte g o a l o f cxperi nrcnt.rlmedi ci ne
t inc t di-.. li. . ;4 P hvsi ologr ',For nr e, pat ho) ogicalphenonr cnaar e not hing but
\ ^J \ lo L ,f!' tl s
n i )\' ,1 r. a n d rl ' r .rrr,rrrr i th parh,,l ogi cal modified phvsiologicalphenomena."As a thr.'t'reticalproposition,
" tt
r n. r ( onr \ . /f' a ,l ,,1,l i s 'a ' :h e r" ' rreonI r' rg' rni sm'i n normal this rvasnot a nerv idear in the earlv part of thc nineteenth cen-
or abnor,/ l ' n d i ti o rrs ' 1 1 J i s e a sics j ust I di stLrrbancc i n the tury, even a modestIycultivateclphvsicianrvoulclhaveassociated
)\i.,logicJllirr.::)ns. Experimentalmedicinc is the the idea that pathologvis a subsetol physiologyrvith the still pres-
or ganis n rl
[l,yri.rltll ,,f-. m.,.bid. "PhvsiologicalIa'r'sman- ti gi ous n am e of Albr echt von Llallcr .I n t hc pr cf act 't o his 1755
cxpcri r.ttr1,

)7 6 277

,t.

fl
f:rcnch transfation of von Haller's De pdrtibut corporishumani vcari th at had passcdsince his f ir st cour se. ') lHe r vassur c t hat
sentientib$ct itritabil;bus(1152), l\'1.Tissot rvlote, "lf pathologv's progresshad been ma<le:"l anr the lbunclerof cxperinrcntalmed-
dcpenclenceon phvsiologv\\'ere better knortn. there ll'ould be i ci nc." Nlagcndichad blazeda t r ail, accor dingt o Ber nat d,but he
no need to lre]aborthe influence that the rre\l discoveryought had neithcr set a clestinationnor tlcvelopecla mcthod. Nor coulcl
t o ha\ e or) th e a rt o f h c a l i n g . B u t u n l b r runatel yue l ack a u' ork hc hrve, bccausche l. r cled t he m canst o build a br idge bct uccn
'[hcory
entitled ./hc,lpplicotionol to Procticc,so I have ventured the l abo r at or t anr l t he clinic, t ( ) pr ovc t hJt r llect ivc t r cnt nr ent \
to c\pfes\ a feu thorrghtsconccrningrlrc prncticalbcncfits ofirri- coul d be d<r lucet llt onr t he r csult sol 1- lbr r iologrWhlt
. sust ainr 'r l
t abilit v . " ' l h i s i ta t(m c n t i s l i rl l o rv c db v .r scri esof obscnati onson B crnardin his pat h- br eaking of just
<nt cr pr ise\ \ 'ast he ar lar cnt - ss
t he adnr in i s tra ti o no f o p i u m , to n i c s , p u rgati vesand so forth. To such a possibilit r ',of just r uch. r r calit \ : "1 t hink t h. r t r her c ar c
be sure, this \\'asa mere "system," rvhereasl\lagendicclaimcd to no\l cnough facrs to pr<rurcleJrlr that phvsiologvis rhc baris ol'
bc able to rcad, and to te.rchothers to reacl,the nntural identity mccl i ci nc,in t he senset hat . r ccr t ain num ber ol pat holot icalphc-
of phv s io l o g va n d p a th o l o g v i n th c fa c ts thcmsel ves,i ndepen- nomenacan nou be traceclb.rckto phvsiologicalphenonrena,.rnd
c lentol an r i n te rp re ta ti o n .Ye t i t to o k a mtrl i r.alsvstem,i ndeed it can be shovvn,mr)reovertthat the salrlc lar,s govt:rn both."'r1
the last ol'the medical svstemsaccordingtr) B('r|-|ard,el to reveal Statedmorc clearlr, Bcrnard'scl,rim to havefounrlcda tlisciplinc,
t hc ir lc aol c rp tri me n ta l me d i c i n c ,th a r i s, the i denthat the meth- o.cn though hc cretlirsothcrs u ith h.rring thc idca lirst anrl,rl,tain-
orls of thc lal'rrr,rtrrryand thc methods ol thc clinic are one and i ng thc e ar liestr r sult \ . r cr t s ( ) n t he phvsiop. r t holoqlof <lialr t 't t 's,
t b( \ alr lr ' . Bu i l t o n th c ru i n s o f rh e g re l t D osol ogi es,thi s i dea that i \, ult im at el! , or r t hc di\ ( ( ) \ ( r l ol t he glr cogcnic lir nr t iolr
t t t r r t ,d r r t ,,l i , i n r' l ro n r .r .p e c u l .rri v es r i rrnr i nr,r a prrrgrqrsi ve ol thc livcr-f...1 For [Jernard,thc expcrir.rrc nt.rl crpl.rn.rtionol thc
s c ienc e. ' lh e s v s te mBc rn a r(lh a d i n mi n d. rhat w hi ch pavedthe mechanismol di. r bct es<lcm , r nst r at eclt he validir r oi t hc pr inciplcs
uav for a medicine \\'ithout svstems,v'as Franqois-Joseph
Victor o1 1865:t he pr inciple ( r f r hc iclent it v
sct fbrth in t hc / nr r r r iluct ion
Broussais's. [ftudcs, p. 135] o1 thc l ans ol hcalt h and disease;t hc pr inciple of t hc <let er r r in-
[ 110] ln re c o g n i z i n gth a t Bro u s s a i h s ad demol i shedthe i dca i sm o1biologicalphenom cn. rand ; t hc pr incipleol t he specilicit v
of pat holo g va s a s c i e n c eo l ' c l i s e a s de i s t i nct l i om thc sci cnceof ol bi ol ogicalf unct ior r s,t h. t t is, t hc dist inct ionbet *een t he int er -
phv s iolog i c a lp h e n o me n a ,Be rn a rc d l i d nor r(' l i ncl ui shhj s o\\' n nal .rn(lc xt em al en\ ir onnr cnt s.I o f 6und exper im cnt , rnr
l eclicine
c laim st o o l i g i n rl i tv , * h i c h l a v i n h i s h a l i ng been the fi rst to pro- \ras to dem onst r at et he consist o) cvanr i com pr t ibilit t ol t hese
pos t bas in ga s c i e n tj fi cm c d i c i n e o n a n experi nrentrJphysi ol ogy, pri nci ples.Jhat r lonc. Ber n. r r dr venton t o r c5cLr tehe r r eu t lis<: i-
lJ ur r v hat rl i d h e n rrl e o l ' M a g e n d i e l ' In 185-1,r' hen he Il l l ed i n pl i nc fro m it \ ( l( t r act ( ) r s,t he olr l- f ashioned
\ \ '\ t em at ist sincr it r i-
I dr . Nl. r ge n d iaet th c C o l l r)g ec J c[i r;rn c t' h, i s fi rst * ords rrere that <.rbl! rrerltledt'irhcr t,t onroi<rg)r,r to vit.rlisnr,bt slrrlrvingthern
" t he s c ien ti l i c m e c l i c i n eI a m s u p p o s e dr o teachdoesnot cxi st." that thc ses. r nr epr in<. ipl<
s cr r ulr lcr plain t he r er \ , phenonr enaon
I n 1865. h c n o te d tl ra t " e x p e ri me n ta lor sci cnti fi c mcdi ci ne i s rvhi ch t hcv bascd t hcir object ions. 1\ lagcnt lie's ! r \ l( \ \ as ver \
nou' c onr i n g to g e th e ro n th e b a s i so f p h vsi ol ogv,. . thi s cl evel op- dillcrcnt fiom Bcrnarrl'r:l\'lagcndieh.rd asscrtcdrrurhs, rcllrte(l
mcnt is no\1 certain."')lIn the Princrpcs, he sutnmeclup the tlvent) crrors, pr onouncet ljudgm ent s- lir r him , ] if e uas r nr <, chanical

)7 8 27't
phcnomenon and vitalism an aberration.The discovervof inter- tri al i zedsociet iesof t he m id- ninet cr : nt hccnt ur y, when science,
nal secretions,the fbrmulationofthe conccpt ofthe internalenvi- rhrough its applications,becamea social fbrce. That is rvhv Ber-
ronment, the demonstrationofcertain regulatorvmechanismsand nrrd rvasimmediately recognizedby his contcmporariesas one
stabilizedparametersin the composition of that environment - of those *,ho symbolized thc agc: "ile \r'asnot lmerelv] a great
thcse things enabled Bernardto be a detcrminist rvithout being
phvsiologist,he was Physiologv,"Jean-BaptistcDumas told Vic-
a mechanist,and to understandvitalism as an error rather than a ror L)uruv on the day of Bernard'sftrneral,thcrcby transfbrming
fbllv. In othcr rr.ords,he found a u,ay to change perspectivesin thc man i nt o an inst it ut ion.
the cliscussion of phvsiologicaltheory.When Bernardproclaimecl, It may even be that Bernard,in all modestv,identified him-
wit h a s e l f-c o n fi d e n c eth a t c o u l d e a s il ybe mi staken fbr smug-
si:lf u ith phvsiologv.When he stakedhis claim as the firunder of
nes s ,t hat th c re r+ ,o u l db e n o m o re re v ol uti onsi n medi ci ne, i t cxperi me nt alm edicine, hc sim ply clem onst r at edhis alvar eness
r v asbec a u s eh e l a c k e d th e m c a n s to d escri be phi l osophi cal l y that it was his own researchrvhich had cnabledhim to refute the
what he r+'as consciousofhaving achieved.He did not know rvhat vari()rlsobjcctions raisedagainstthe nerv disciplinc.
to call his idea of expcrimental mcdicine; he did not knorv how Bcrnardkneu'that he had invented neither the term nor the
to savthat he had brorrghtabout a Copernicanrevolution. Once project of experimentalmedicine but, by reinvcntingthe content,
it could be shou'n that the internal environment aflbrdcd the he had made the idea his or+,n:"Modern scirntiflc medicine is
organisma ccrtain autonomvrvith respectto changingconditions thcrefbre basedon kno* lcdge of the lile of the elements in an
in the external environment, it also becamepossiblenot only to Thus, it relies on a diflerent conception of
internalenvironment.
refirtethe misconceptionsofvitalism but to explain horv they had tht: human body. These ideasar e m ine, and t his vier vpoint is
come about in thc first place. And once it could be shown that essenti allvt hat of exper im ent alm edicine. "etllowcver , no doubt
the proccssesresponsiblefbr thc svmptoms ofa diseasesuch as remcmbcring that he had written in the Intrcductionthat "art is
diabetescxist in thc normal as well as the pathologicalstate, it 1,scienccis rve,"he addcd: "Thesc neu'icleasand this nelv point
bccame legitimate to claim that the proper approachto under- of vi crv d id not spr ing lull- blown f r om m , vim aginat ion. l'hey
standingdiseasewas to understandhealth. At that moment, the camc to me, as I hope to shorv,purelv becauseof thc cvolution
culture'sattittrdc tolvarddiseascchanged.When peoplc belicved ofsci encc. M y ideasar e t her ef or ef ir m or c solid t han if t hev had
that diseases\i,ereessenccs with a natureall their orvn, their only bcen mv or vn per sonalviewsand not hing m or e. "[ . . . ]
thought r+,as,as Bernard said, "to be warv of them," that is, to At severalpoints in thc forcgoingaccount, I haveu rittcn that
strike a compromise rvith thcm, But rvhcn experimental medi- "Claude Bernard did not know how to say" this or that. Some-
c ine c laim c d th e a b i l i tv to d e te rm i n e t he condi ti ons of heal th onc might object that I am substituting for.r,r'hathc actuallv said
and def in e d d i s e a s ea s a d c v i a ti o n fi o m those condi ti ons, atti - rvhat I th ink he should havesaicl.I am per f 'ect lvuilling t o con-
tudcs torvarddiseasechanged:mankind no.rvrcjccted illnessand cede that I do not shar et he adm ir at ion of som c com m ent at or s
s ought t o s ta mp i t o u t. T h u s , c x p e ri mental nrcdi ci ne w as but lor Bernardas a \\,riter; pcrhapsmy critics u.ill concedc that, in
one f or m o f th e d e m i u rg i c d rc a m th a t al fl i cted al l the i ndus- attempting to situate Bernard'slntroductionhistorically and con,

28o 28r
K
c ept unliz e i t e p i s te m o l o g i c a l l vI, h a v cgi vcrr hi m prcci sel vthe firr a proposcrJwork on problems raisedbv the practice of mcdi-
credit he dcscn'cs,sincc cvcrvthing I say is lrorrorvc<]liom him. cine (preservedat the Colltlgedc France)."Scientific cmpiricism
As Victor (-ousin,a philosopherI do not customarilvquotc, onct: i5 the oppositeof rationrlismand radicall_v
dif'ferentll.om sciencc,
put it , " l- a n rc i t n e v e r u ro n g . T h c o n l v pnrbJcnri s fi ndi ng out S ci enccis baset lon t hc r . 'r t ionalism
of t he f act s. . , . N4cr Jical
sci-
uhat c ons ti tu te sa c l a i m u p o n i t." [[ru d cs,pp. ]l E -.+ l ] rnce i s thc sciencein uhich u'c r at ionally anclexper im ent allv
cxpl ai n <liseases
in or cler t o pr cdict or alt er t heir pr ogr css. "qt
The Limits of Bernardian Theorv r\norhcr lbrmularion is cr'('ncl('irer: "J\'ledicineis the art ol heal-
I lll] T hc re c a n b e n o d o u b t th a t th e a ccunrul ati onofknorvl cdge i ng, but it nr usrbecor net hc scicnccof healing.The ar t ol he. r ling
in s uc h ba s i cd i s c i p l i n c sa s p a th o l o g i (al.rn.rtom\,hi srol ogvand i s empi ricism ,Tlr c scienceol healingis r at ionalisnr . "J8
ln a r vor k
his t opat h o l < rg vp,h v s i o l o g va n d o rg a n i c chemi stry nccessi tatcd (l evotedt o cpist t nt olcr gv,
t he aut hor uill pcr hapslr c lllor led t o
painlir l r e v i s i o no f m a n v o f th e a tti tu d estotl ar(l di seascthat thc cxprcssa prefercncelirr thr: ternr "rationalitv" ovcr "rationalism,"
cightccnth cr:nturl bcquc.rthcdto the niDeteenth.Olall the dis- rvhich is out of place bcvond the historv of philosophv. In .rnv
c iplinc s , i t rv a sp h v s i o l o g vth a t mo s t d i rcctl v chal l engedthe nat- case,Emile l-ittri and Charlcs Robin's Dictionndirctlc rnidecine
uralisticpalarligm,rvhich rightly or rvronglvclaintedrhe authority contai nsan ar t icl( '( ) n "r at ionalism " t hat is r callv a r lclinit ion o1'
of a llipPoclatic tradition revampeclto sUit contemporarytastes. " rati ona l, " r vhcr t it is st at eclt hat a r . r t ion. r lt r cat m ( nt ol an ill-
W hilr ins i s ti n go n th c fu n d a m e n ta li d enri tr ol -the normal and nessi s o ne l>. r sed on plinciples of physiologyand r nar ont r '. . r nr l
r he par ho l o g i c a l;>
, h v s i o l o gpvro m i s e dro ri etl ucemodt' sof.trcat- not on mer e cm pir i<isnr . l his del'init ionol a r ar ionalt hcr apr is
Dren(fronr knorr ledgeof their pracricalt'flc<ts. Being an cxperi- rcpeatedlertratint in the lUTtl [)icLionndirc
Jt ltt lttnqutJranqoisc
m ent al s c i c n c r:,l i k e p h v s i c sa n d c h e n ti st , rvhoseresul tsand undcr " ra t ionalil'. "[ . . . ]
techniques it usecl,physiologv rvasnor onll not antagonisticto There is no er enr pl. r r vf igur c, no classicr lper iod, in r hc his-
t hc idc a o f a s c i e n ti l i c a l l y b a s e dm e d i ci nc but actual l y cal l ed torv of rat ionalit v.Thc ninct ct 'nt hcent ur v t aught t he t \ \ cnt iet h
f br t he r ati o n a l i z a ti o no fm c d i c a l p ra c t i ce.The term " rati onal - that everv problenr requiresan appropriatc mcthod lilr its solu-
is m " las i n l a c t rv i d e l vu s e c tol c h a ra c tcri zcthc medi ci neofthe ti on. In mcdicinc as in ot hcr f iclds, r at ionalit vr . eveals
it sclf af icr
future; one of the flrst to usc the term in this $av was Charles thc l act; it is not gilt 'lr in advanccbut r ellect edin t hc m ir r or ol
Schiltzcnbergerin Strasbourg,u'ho in 184.1.rdlocatcdthe appli- succesr Bcr
. nar dsom et iDt eslbund it dif ljcult t o acccpt t hnt not
c at ion t o n te d i c i D eo f* h a t h e c a l l e d" e rperi rl ent.rlr.rti onal i sm," evervrationalm et hod lr Jd t , r r csem blehis, r vhich ht : consir ler cd
u hic h as l .rtec s l E 7 9 h c s ti l l p rc fi ' rre dt o B ern.rrd' "serpcri men- paradi g m at ic.His cf it i( i\ nr s of lt udolph Vir chor r anr l cellul. r r
t al nt c < lic i n c ." ' r(' , c Gc rm a rrj rkob H enl e publ i sheda
In 1 8 .1 6th P athol o {\ 'r t er t h. r r sh.Alt h, r ugh lr . a1>plr r r t rof
l Louir P. r sr er . r r 's
I lan<lhuchdcr ratrcncllenPotholoSlie. Ar thc time, Claude Bernard rclitation of rhe rhettrl oI spontaneous gener.rrion,hc nr.r'(r imlg
r T ass r ill . r rrru n g d o c to r, a n d i t rv a sn o t unti l thc l U 60sthat he intd hovv fiuitlirl gernr rhcorv .rvoulclprovc in rrr.rring <liscase.
took up thc ternr "r.rtionalism," fbr cxarnPlein his Pincipet de i \n obsc ssionr vit h t ht <lognr lt hat all discascs
ar e no- vr r r r in
s or i
midecinccrpirimentoic(1irst published in 1947) anclin his notcs gi n proved t o bt 'an obst aclet o r at ional unr Jcr st ; t nt ling
ol inlt 'c

252 2Rl
r
t ion. r nd c o n ta g i o n .Wh i l e i t i s c o rre c t, as B ernardcl ai med,that PRRr Flvr
thc ncrvesexert an influcncc on infectiousclisease, it would have
becn bcttr:r if he had ncvcr '*'ritten that "a nervousparalvsiscan
produce .r septic discasc."ee
I lere the physiopathologicaltvpe of
rationalitv leadsto an explanationof symptoms,but it wasPasteur Pr o b l e m s
and Heinrich FlermannRobert Koch rvho developeda different
t v pc of r a ti o n a l i tv c a p a b l eo f a n s rv e r i ngquesti onsof eti ol ogy.
E x t r em e p h v s i o l o g i s mh a d i ts l i mi ts r for proof one nccd onl y
considert he rear-guardaction u,agedbv Elie de Cyon againstthe
triumphalt P.rsteurians
in his study of Eticnnc-JulesMarev, the
author ol a fittle-known rvork entitled Essaide thiorie phsiologique
du choldru(18651.t00Marey rvas perf'ectlyrvell an'are that "the
searchlbr an absolutelr ef'fectivemedication or certain prophy-
lax is " llou l d re g u i re th e i d c n ti fi c a ti o n of rvhat hc sti l l ca]l ed a
microscopic pnrasitc.r{)r Thc advcrb "absolutell" and thc arJjec-
t iv e " c c r ta i n " rc fl c c t th e Be rn a rd i a nc o ncepti on of rati onal i tyr
the vcner.rtionof <lcterminisnrlcd to outrigbt rcjcction anrlscom
[br .rttempts to introduce concepts of probabilitr' .rnd sraristics
into nredicine.But at leastMarel nas fullv arvarethat knou.ledge
of the role of rhe vasomotornervous svstem in circulation and
c.rlcrriticationuas not enough to suggestan anticholera therap)'
m or e " ut i o n a l " th a n th e m a n y me d i c ati onsal readytestedem-
piricallv on the intestinaland pulmonary lorms ofthe disease,
The publication of Marey'sarticle may be taken asa recogni-
t ion ol t h e l i m i ts o f Be rn a rd i a nra ti o n a l i ty.Meanrvhi l e,the man
* ho boastcdof its univcrsalvalidity could rvrite, "l do not believe
that medicine can change the lar'r'sof human mortality or even
of the mortalitv of a nation,"l0.lanclelservhere,"Mcdicine must
ac t on inr l i v i d u a l s .l t i s n o t d e s ti n e dto act on col l ccti vi ti esor
pc oplr s . "r0 r[E tu d e sp, . 3 9 3 -9 6 ]

284
C u a Pr r tr l) l tl r l N

Knowledge .1nd the Living

\ cir nt r ' . r n, l lilt

The Vitolist I mperqtive


Il l 2] V i talismasdcf incr l by t hc eight ccnt h'cent ur vN{ont pellier
phvsicianPaul-Joseph Barthezex1>)icithclrimtrl to lrc r continu.r-
ti on o1 tlr e Hippocr . r t ict r adit ion. This llippocr , r t icancc5t r yu, as
;>rob.rblv morc important than thc rloctlirc's other ibrebear,r\ris
totel j nnism ,lbr uhile vit a] ism bor r or r cr lnr uch ol it s t cr nt inol-
ogt from Ar ist ot le, it s spit it \ r 'r s. r l\ r '. 1\llippocr
'\ at i<. Bar t hczput
it this rvavin his r\rour'caur
1[lnurts dc Ia :cicncedc I'homne(1778):

B v nran's"r 'it al pr inciple"l nr cant hc causc, r all


l t he phenl) m {na
ol lile in the hunranbodr'.Tht n.rnrc11ivr.n co rhat causeis ol rel.r-
ti veN lit t le im por t ancc
and nr avbc choscnat will. I pr cli: r"r it : l
principlc"becausc
thissuggcsts
I lesscitcumscribed notionthanthe
rcrm iLnpctum (ro
ldcicns svopuov)that I lil)pocr:rtes
uscd or th.rnanv
ol thc other tcrmsthat havcbeenusr,l i() (lenl)tcth(' causeo1 thr
l i l i ' l i ncr ions.

\ri tal ismr vasin one r cspcct . rbiologr lor phvsiciansskept ical
of thc he aling pouer s of m t r licar ion. ; \ ccor djng t o t he llippo-
crati c theor v of ndt ur c m e( lt Lot nrt,he dclensivcr enct ionof t he
organi smis m or e im l) or r nntr har rdiagnosingt hc c; r usct t f t hc dis-
eas e.B \ th e s a meto k c n , p ro g n o s i s ,though dependenton di aq- is, J harntoniouss,-stenrobetlient to cert.rin larvsand dcclicatecl
nos is . is rh t rl o mi n a n t a rt. l t i s a s i mportaD t to ar)ti (i patethe l ,) | rrl Ji n. r ds. Tht ", r . nccir cr l , 'l t ht ln* lr c' a' ln or glni, 'r r lpar t 1
c our s eo l a d i s c a rca s to (l (tc rmi n c i t s causc.B ecausenature i s ui l l )i \ u ni\ ef \ ( . a r , 'r t , 'l , , ll in llt l unir er . r i or g. r r r i'm .r ll ol I
thc first phvsician,therapv is as much a nt,ittcr ofPrudence asof l h,rst' cells u, cr c unilicd bv . r n int cr nal sym Pat hv.I t t ht r cf ir r c
. ta l i s m a n d n a tu ra l i s mw erc thus i nextri cabl yassoci -
boldnes s Vi scenre(lDaturalto thcm that the fate of the Partial organ should
atcd. Me(lical vit.rlism rcllcctcd an alnrostinstinctivervarinessof bt: t,ound up vvith rhe Irtovementsol the heavens.
the hc.rling.rrr'spo\\'erso\ei lil;. There is 4n analogvto be drau n Such an inrerprct.trionmat rTcll bc l<-'drlrtlbl the ;rsvchoanal-
her ei t h c c o n tra s tb e trte e n n a tu rea n d art i s rcmi ni sccntofA ri s- rsi s ol knoulcdgc. l- hat it m av havt 'som cr ncr it is st r ggcst cd
bv
t ot lc ' s c ()n tra s tb c trv e c n n a tu ra l mo vement and vi ol ent move- its convcrgenceu'ith Walthcr Ricsc's contmcnts on C()nstantin
ment. Vitalism lvas.rn expressionof the confldencc among the von N1rrnakovr"s biological theories: "ln von Monakort''sncuro-
living in lry', of thc nrin<l'sc.rpacitr', asliving consciousness
<-rfli[e, bi ol o{r' . r nan is a chil<l of nat ur c lh<t nevcr lcavcsit r nr ot her 's
t o identi l \' rv i th th e l i v i n g a s l i k e rv i th l i ke. hrt,rsr."l fhere can [.c Iro doubr that, fcrrthc vitalists. the lunda-
T hes e re m a rk s s u g g e s tth e fb l l o n i ng obscrvati on:r' i tl l i sm nrentalbiologicalphenom enon\ {asgener at ion,u hich conjur ed
of l i v-
r ef lc c t c d a n e n d u ri n gl i [e -i mp e ra ti v ein thc consci ousness up ( rrtain imagcsanrl poscdccrtain problemsthat, to onc rJcgrcc
ing hum a n b e i n g s .-fh i s w a s o n e re asontbr the vaguenessand or anoth cr ,inf lucnced t hc r cPr cscnt at ionof ot her phcnom cna.
nebulou s n e s th s a t m c c h a n i s tb i o l o g i stsand rati onal i stphi l oso- A \i ral i s t , I r voulclv. 'nt ur e t o suggest .is a per son \ vho is m or e
pher ss a ' r' a s< l c fe c tso f i t.rl i s rd o c tri ne. l Ir' i tal i sm u' asabove.rl l likcll ro pondcr thc problcntsol lifc trv conrcnrplatinq.rncqg rhan
an im pt ' ra ti v t, i t rra so n l l n a tu ra l th r t i t shoul d havesorre di f- br trrrninga udncJror opcrating tlrt bcllrurof a fdrgc.
ficuftv expressingitself in determinate formulations. fConnais- V i tal ist suer e conliclentof t hc spont aneit l of lif i: and r eluc-
ronce,p. 86] tant - i n som c cascshor r if icd - t o t hink of it . r s spr ingingf iom a
I J l3l In d c c d , E m a n u e lR a d l rc c o g ni zedthat vi tal i sm \r' rsan natureco nccivcdof as. r ser iesof m ech. r nicalpr ocesses, r nd, t hus,
impcrarile r.rther than a nrcthctdand more ol an ethical slstem, pararl or icalllr cduced t o . r conger iesol devicessim ilal t o t hose
pc r haps .th a n a th e o rv .l M a n , h e a rgued,can l ook at nature i n rr hi ch hunr anbcingshad cr eat eclin t hcir ( luestt o r ler conr e t he
t\\'o uays. lle feclsthat he is a child of n.tture and has a senseof obstaclesthat naturt-had placeclin theil uav. Tvpicalol thcscatti-
belongi n g to s o m e th i n gl a rg e r th a n hi mscl f; hc sceshi msel f i n tudcsua s a m an like JeanBapt ist evan I lclm ont . f . . . 1
nature and nature in himself. But he also standsbelorenature as \i an l lclm ont t lcnied l) cscar t cs's( ont ent ion t hat t he lbr ces
bc f br e. rn u n d e fi n a b l ea l i c n o b j c c t, A sci enti stu' ho fecl r fi l i al , ol narurcar c unif ied. Fver vbeing, he. r r - qucd,h. r sb, r r h ir s or , , n
s\mpatheticsentin]cntsto\\'nrdnature rvill not regarrlnaturalphe- i ndi vi du allbr ce anclt he f ir r ccol it s specit s.Nat ur c is an t 'ndlcss
nomen.iasstrangeand alien; rathcr, hc n ill lind in them lil-e,soul hi crarchvof f ir r ces. r nd f ir r m s.This hier ar chvcom pr iscssccds,
and m c a l i n g , Su c ha ma n i s b a s i c a l l ya vi tal i st. P l ato,A ri stotl e, l cavens,pr inciples. r nd it icas.The lir ing boclvis or ganizedas a
Calen, all medieval and nlost Rcnaissanccscholarsrvere in this hierrrchv of orcliCr.'lhc tcrm rir<hc,Iirsr principlc, borrorr.cdfiom
scnsc vit.rlists.Thev rcgarrledthe univ<rscas an organism, that f'aracclsus,describ,..<l
an organizing,corrrmanclingpowef, some,

288 2l l 9
thing rather nrore akin to the generalol an army than to a work-
rcach.Thar is rvhat Th6ophile de Bordt'u, the firsr grt'at theorist
man. lt marks a return to the Aristotelianconccption ofthe lrody
of thc Nlont pcllier School,m cant u hen he called van Helnr ont
assubordinateto the soul in the samesenscas the soldier is sub- " onc o f t hose ent husiast st hat ever y cent ur v needsin or der t o
ordinateto his captainor rhe slaveto his master.lViralismattacked
irsroundthc scholastics."ilConnaissance, pp. 91-921
the technologicalversion of mechanismat least as much as, and
perhapseven more than, it did the theoretical version. IConnais- The Technological Model
sance,pp. 88-89]
[115] The r r or d "m echanism "com es f iom t he Cr cck unxqvn,or
Ill4l It may scem absurd to argue that vitalism rvasin fact a device,rvhich combinesthe trvo sensesofruse (or stratagem)and
lertile doctrine, particularlvgiven the fact that ir al\1a.isportrayed nrachint'.Ptrhapsthe trvo meaningsare actuallvone, Is not man's
it s elf asa re tu rn to a n c i rn t b e l i e fs- a tendencyqui te evi dcnr i n i nl cntion and useof m achines,his t echnologicalact ivit y in gen-
the naive penchant of nrany vitalists to borrorv Greek terms for eral, rvhat l{egel calls the "rq5q of reason"in Section 209 ofhis
the rather obscureentities thev felt nbliged to invoke. The vital- I-ogic?-fhis ruse consi!ts in accomplishing one's or",n cnds bv
isrr of the Rcnaissancewns in one sensea retum to Plato intended mcansof int er m ediat cobjcct s act ing upon one anot her in con-
to counter the ovcrly logicized medievalversionof Aristotle. But tormi t v uit h t heir o$n nat ur es,The essenceol . r m achineis t o
thc vitalism of van Helrnont, Georg firnst Stahl and paul-.loseph bc a mediation or, as mechanicssay,a Iink. A mechanismcreates
Barthezhasbeen calleda return beyondDescartesto the Aristotle nothing, and therein lies its inertia (trc..r),vct it is a ruse u hosc
t>fDe anima, For HansI)riesch, the caseis patenr. But ho*, is this construct ionnecessar ilrinvolvesar r . As a scient if icDt et hodand
return to rhe Ancients to bc interpreted?Was it a revivalof older phi l os ophv,m echanismis t her ef or ean im plicit post ulat ein. r nv
and consequentlytimeworn concepts, or rvasit a caseof nostal- useofmachines.The successof t his hum an r usedcpcndson t hc
gia for ontoJogicallyprior intuitions, for a more direct relation Iack of any similar rusein Nature. Natlrrecan be conquercdbv art
bct{'een inrention and objr'ct?Archaeologvstemsis nruch from onl y i f sheher selfis nor ar t : only a m an nam cd U) r 'r ses( No- M an)
a nostalgiafbr original sourcesas fiom a love ofancient things. is capableoI devising .r schemeto get the uoodcn horse insidc
We are more apt to graspthe biological and human significance the gatcsol Trov, and he succeedsonly becausehis cnemies are
ofa sharpenedflint or adzc than ofan electric timer or a camera. forcesof nature rathcr than clcver engineers.l he rusesbr rvhich
In the realm oftheory, one must be sureofa theorv'sbackground ani malsavoid t r aps ar e olien adducedas objecr ionst o t he Car -
and developmentto interprct rcversionas rctreat or reiection as tesiantheoty ofthe animal-machine.In the lbrervorclto the N.'$,
reaction or betraval.Wasn'tAristotle'svitalism alreadya reaction Essa,vs,
Leibniz oflers thc easelvith \a,hichanimalsare trappcd as
againstthc ntechanismof l)emocritus, and rvasn'rplato's final- evidencelor Descartes's contention tbat thev are capablconly ol'
ism in thc PrSoddoa reactioDagainstthe nt('chanismofAnaxagorasi, respondingt o im m ediat esensat ions( \ 1hat we would t odal call
In anv case,there can be no doubt that vitalists rvt'rcafter a cer- " condit ionecl r cf lexes") . Convcr selr ',I ) escar t es'shypot het ic. r l
tain pretech nological,prelogicalnaivetdofvision, a vision oflil; description in the Mcditationsof a deceptive Goci or evil gcnitrr
as it uas befbrc man created tools and languageto extend his eff'ectivelvtranslbrmsman into an aninralsurroundeclby traps. If

29.J 291
(iod rrscshunranruses,rgainst humankind,man descendsliom the on one or m ot e m cchanism s.A m echanisnris r conf igur at ionol
s r . r t usof liv i n g c re a tu rero th .rt o f me re i n ert obi ect. Is the the- nol i ng so lidsr Thoseconf lgt t r at ionis nr aint aincrtl hr ot t qhoutit s
( ) f \ ' of t hc liv i n g ma c h i n ci u s t s u c ha h u m a nruse,rvhi ch.i f taken ntovemenr;or, to put it anothcr rvar',.rmcchanismis an assenr-
liter.rlh, rvould prove that there is no such thing as lili ? But rvhy blv of parts rvhoscrelation to one anothcr changcsover timc btrt
t hen, if anim a l sa re m c rc ma c h i n c s ,i fn a tu rc i s mercl v one vast i s peri odicallrr est or cdt o an init ial conf igt r r at ion.Thc assem blv
machine,does thc domination of animalsand nature cost human consistsin a svstem ol linkagcs uith fixed dcgreesof fict'dom:
beingsso much et'fort?[Connairsoncc, p. 87] fbr examp le,a penduJumor a cam - dr ivon"alvc hasonc dcgr eeol
lllt ' ] Nlc c h a n i spt h i l o s o p h e rs ,rnbdi o l o gi ststook machi nesas ficedom; a \r'ornl gear shaft has llr>. Thc nraterialcmboclimcnt
a or . i I th e ,vs tu d i e d rh c p l o l ' l c n r o f machi ne-l > Lri l di ng
at ofthcse dcgr eesof lr eedom consist sin gui<les,t hat is, st r t r ct t t r cs
- 11iv en,
all, s , r lv e<itl b v i n v o k i n g h u n ra nc a l c u l a t i on.Thev rel i ecluP on l i mi ri ng th e nlovem entof solit lsin. ont nct . The m ovcnt entof nnY
t he enginee ro r, u l ti m a te l r' ,a s i t s e e m c dt o them, the sci cnti st. rrachi ne is t hus a f lnct ion of it s st r uct ur c,and t hc m cchanisnr
Mislcd bv thc ambiguit,vof the tcrm "mechanical," thcv looked i s a funct ion of it s conf igur at ion. f he t ir ndam ent alpr inciplesol
upon machincsasnothing more than Jeifi-edtheorems,theorems a gencral thcory of mcchanisms(as detinecl herc) can be fbuntl
made concrete bv thc relativelvtrivial opcration of construction, in anv stantlarclvvork, lbr example Franz Rculeaux'sKinemutics,
nhich. thel bclioecl, involvcdnothing more than the application (u' hi ch rv ast r . r nslat edf r om G er m anint t ' Fr enclrin 1877) .[ . . . ]
of k no*ledqe i n fi .rl lc o n s c i o u s n e sosfi ts l i mi ts and l i -rl lcertai ntv Tht po int ol t his br ief r evie$ of t hc lunr lam ent als ol kincm , r t
of it s ellec t s .l n m l v i e rv ,h o u e re r, th c b i ol ogi calprob)err ofthc i cs i s that it allor vsnr t t o point up t he par ar lr xicalsignilicance
or-q.rnism-machinc cannot bc tr(ate(l separatelvll-om tlrc techno- ol ' the foll, r n'ingpr ', r t r lemWhr
: ( li( l scienf ist s usem achinesan<l
namcl y,the probl em
logic alpr ob l e m rv h o s cs o l u ti o n i t a s s u mes, mcchani s m sas m odcls lbr undcr st anding( ) r ganicst nr ct r lr esnnd
of t he r c lat i o n b e tw c e n te c h n o l o g ya n d s c i ence.The usualsol u- functions?On< problem lvith anv mcchanicalmodel is its source
t ion is t o s a y th a t k n o w l e d g t i s p ri o r to i ts appl i cati onsboth of cnergr'.A machine, as dcfined abovc, is not sclflcontaincd:it
logicallvand chronologically,but I shall try to show that the con- must take enclgt fiom somclhcre and translbrm it. We alvlavs
s t r uc t ioDof m a c h i n e si n v o l v i trqa u th e n ti c al l vbi ol ogi calnoti ons thi nk of moving m achines. r sconnect cd r r it h som c sour cc ol'
c annot bt ' un c l e rs to o dru i th o u t re ri s i n g th i s vi c$ ofthe rcl ati on cnergv.?
bet r r . een
s c ie n c t a n d te c h n c ,i o g r.
1 ...] [:or a Ionp t inr e, t hc cncr gr r hat \ et kiDenr at icm achinesin
T , r a s c r u p u l o u so b s e rv e r,l i v i n g c re a t urcsother than vertc- or aninr als.ln
moti ()n c.lnr ef r cr mt hc m uscularellbr t of hLr m ans
br . r t esr ar c lv e x h i b i t s tru c tu re s l i k c l y to suggcstthe i dca of a that stage,ir r|ar,:rbviouslvtautologicalt<,rcxplain the movcntent
m ec hanis m( i n th e te c h n i c a l s e n s e ).T o b e surc, l ul i en P acottt: of a l i vi ng t hing bv com par ingit t o t hc m ovenr entol'a nt achin"
notes that thc arrangemcntof the parts of the c,r'cand the movc- cl ependenton m uscularef br t f br it s sour cc of encr gv. Hist or i-
mrnt of thc eveballcorrespondto rvhatmathcmaticiansu ould call cal l v, the r elbr c, as has lr equent ll bct n shou'n, t her c could bc
a m ec hanis m.5Pe rh a p sa l ' e * d e l i n i ti o n s a r c i n orcl er.A nrrchi ne no mcchanicalesplanat ionof lif e I unr : t i<>ns unt il m cn had con'
is a r lan' nr a d eo b j c c t th a t d c p c n d s .l b r i ts esserti alfi rncti on(s). structednut oDr nt nlt hc vcr v uor t l suggest slr ot h t hc m ir acul, , t r s

192 j.J
l
quality of the object and its appearanceof being a self-contained rrfute the Aristotclian conception of the relation benveennature
m ec han i s mrv h o s ec n e rg v d o e s n o t c omei i mmedi atel y at any and art. AII that notwithstanding, it remainstrue that the use of
rate, fi<-rmthe muscularel'fort oI a human or animal. IConnois- nrecha nicalm odeis t cr r epr esentliving or ganisnr sim plied t hat
pp. 102-10,11
.sonce, thosc organismswere conccivedas necessarv and invariantstruc-

[ 117] A ri s to tl e , I th i n k , to o k a c u s toD al y w av o[ l ooki ng at turcs of their component parts. The implicit idca of order was
animal organisms,a sort ofcultural a p oti, and raisedit to the th.rt ofthe u'orkshop. In part fivc ofthe Dtucourrcctnthc f,|ethod
)evelofa conccpt oflife in general,The vocabulanofanimal anat- l )cscar t csdiscussesa wor k t hat he nevcr published, Le llondc
omv is fLll of terms for organ5,parts and regions of organisms 1"1-hcWorld," though it was.rctuallyabout nran):"Ishorved tht'te
basedon technologicalmetaphorsor analogies.8
The dcvelopment u'hat kind of u'orkshopthe ncn'esanclmusclesof the human bodl'
of the anatornicalvocabularyin Greek, Hebrew, l-atin and Ara- must constitute in order that the animal spirits havethe strength
bic shorvsthat the perceptionoforganic lorms rvasshapedin part ro move the limbs." Later, in discussingthc behaviorof animals,
bv technological norms.eThis cxplains whv phvslologvwas tra- h< 'sars,"lt is nat ur et hat act su it hin t hem , accor dingt o t he dis-
ditionallv rcgardedas subordinateto anatomy. For follorversof p<rsitionof their organs."Workshop,disposition:tlrescrveretech-
Galcn, phvsiologvu'asthe scienceof the use of thc parts, dc usu nological concepts before thcy became anatomical ones, Fron't
portium-Frcm William I larvevto Albrecht voDllaller and beyond, AndreasVesalius,[)escartesborrowec]a conccpt that wasactually
moreover,the scienceof organic functions !r'ascalled anotomia in iairlv rvide use iD thc sixteenthand seventeenthcenturies,that
onimora.Claude Bernardwas ; Iorceful critic of this way of look- of thc t'abricacorpo s humani.ln a ]etter to Marin i\lersenne,a
ing at things. though ofien rvith more rhetoricalenergythan prac- rc[erencet o Vcsaliuslbllowed t his st at em enrof pr inciplc: " f he
tical consequences.
As long as technologvservedasthe sourceof numbcr and the orclerlvarrangementof the nerves,veins,bones
models fbr explaining organic functions, the parts of the organ- and other partsof an animaldo not show that natrrreis insufficcnt
is m were l i k e n e d to to o l s o r ma c h i ne parts.l 0The parts w cre to fo6 11"-, providcd vou supposethat in evervthingnatureacts
r at ionall y c o n c e i v e d a s me a n s to th e organi sm' send, and the e\actl r in accor danceuit h t he laus of m echanics,and t hat t hese
organism itself wasconceivedof asa static structure, the sum of l.rvvshavebeen intposcd on it LryCcrd."lLThis inrocation of Cod
it s par t s . the mcchanic,apparentlvintended onlv to rule out anv vital tclc-
The standardhistories m;v rvell overemphasizethe contrast ologv,fi-rllvmerits RavmondRuver'sacerbicrcmark thar thc more
between Aristotelianismand Cartesianism,at leastas far as their pcoplc thought of organismsasautomata,thc more thev thought
theoriesol lili are concerned.To be sure, thrrc is an irreducible ofGod asan lt alian engineer .
1. . . ]
differenccbetrveenexplaininganimalmovcntentasa consequcnce In short, both Aristotle and Descartcsbased thc clistincrion
ofdesire and giving a mechanistexplanationof desire itself. The betu' c en t he or ganismand it s par t s on t cchnologicallvcondi-
pr inc iple o f i n e rti a a n d th e c o n s e rv ati onof momentum l ed to tioned perceptionsof macroscopicanimal structrtres.Thc tech-

an ir r ev e rs i b l c re v o l u ti o n i n n a tu ra l s ci ence: $,i th the theory nol ogi cal m odel r educeclphvsio) ogvt o a m at r er of deduct ion
fiotn aDatoml:an organ'sfuncrion coulrl be deducerlllorn thc vr.ar
ofstored energv and delcrrc<l(rtilii.ation, l)cscartesrvasab)t-to

294 29\
l-
it \\'asput togcthcr. Although the parts \!ere seen, in dynamic
thcorv of prefbnr.rtion. Dcvclopmentthen bec.rmea simplt'mat-
terms, assuborriinateto the rvhole,.justas the partsofa machine
tcr of incr easingsizc,anclbiologv becam ca kincl of geom et r v,as
uere subordinateto the uhole machine, that functional subor-
Il enri G ouhieronce r cm ar kcdabout t he conceptof cont ainm ent
clination led to a vie\\' of the static structure of the machine as
in Nicolas dc l\4alcbranche.
m c r c lv t he s u m o fi ts p a rts .IE tu d e sp, p . 323-25] Whcn CasparFriedrich Wolfl shorvecl(in 1759and 1768)that
thc cl c vclopm entof an or ganism involveclt he em er gt ncc ol a
The Social Model
seriesol nonprefbrmcd stnrctures,honever, it becamencccssarl
[ 118] T hc fb rc g o i n g c o n c e p ti o n l a s n ot scri ousl y chal l enged to res t or er esponsibilit vf br t he or ganism 'sor ganizat iont o t he
until thc first half of the nineteenth century, u,hen two things
organisnritself. That organismuas not random or idios-vncratic,
happcncd. Iiirst, trvo basic riiscip)ines,embrvologv and phvsiol-
antl .rnoma]icswere unclerstoodas liilurt's to dcvclop or to Pro-
ogv , uhic h h a d b e e n s tru g g l i n gto d e fine thei r o\i n di sti ncti ve
gressbevonda normallv intermecliatestagc.I lcnce therc must be
methods and concepts, achievedthe statusofcxperimental sci-
some firrmativetcndcncy',rvhat Wolfl'called a nr.rus
formolivusand
cnces. Sccond,thcrc w'asa changc in thc scalc ofthe str-uctures
JohanFrie<lrichBlumenbachcallcd a 8i/.luntltl.i.b.ln otlrer rvords,
studicd bv morphologists;or, to put it anothcr rvav,ccll theory
it \\11snecessarvto assumcan immanent plan of organogt'ncsis.
l asintroduceclinto generalanatomv. ' I-h eselact s unr ler lie Kant 's t heor v of or ganic linalit v and
Lealing asidethe regenerationand reproduction ofAbraham
totalitv as set lorth in tht'.Critiqueof Judgmcrr.A machine, Kant
temblev's fimous plant-animalsand Charles Bonnet's observa-
savs,i s a $ hole r vhoscpar t sexist f br onc anot hcrbut not bv one
tion of parthelogenesisin plant lice, no biological phenomenon
.rnother.No part is madc fiom anv other; in lict, nothing is m.rde
\l-asmorc difficult fbr eighteenth-centurytheoriststo interpret in
ol things of the sametvpe as itsclf. No machinc possesses its o\\'n
tenns ol technologicalmodcls than that of morphologicaldcvclop-
formativeenergv.
m ent , or th e g ro w th fi o m s e e dto a d u l t fbrnr. l l i stori ansof bi ol -
A little more Lhana hundr.cdvcar,jago, ClaucleBern.rrcldevcl-
ogy ficqucndy associatcthe epigeneticvierv of rlevelopmentu'ith opcd an iclenticaltheorv in his Introduction
i I'ltudc dc la mdtlccinc
mechanistbiologv; in so doing, thcl ncglcct the closeand all but expirimennle ; "Wh.rt characterizesthe living mlchine is not the
obligatorvassociationof mechanismrvith prcfonrationism. Since natureof it s physicochem icalpr opcr t ies,com plex t hough t hcl
m ac hinesd o n o t a s s e m b l eth e m s e l v e s,anclsi nce there arc no mav bc, but rhe creation ol that maclrine,u hich dcvclopsbelore
m ac hinesf b r c re a ti n g(i n th e a b s o l u tes e nse)othermachi nes,the our evcsunder condit iot r speculiar t o it sclf and in accor dance
liv ing m ac h i n c m u s t i n o n c rv a vo r a n o thcr bc associ atedu' i th rvith a definite iclea,* hich cxprcsscsrhc naturcof tlre living thing
rvhat cighteenth-century thinkcrs liked to call a machiniste,an and the essenceof lift itsclf."rr Like Kant, Benrarclgavt'the name
inv c nt or o r b u i l d c r o f m a c h i n c s .If n o such bui l der uas perccp- "iclca" tcr the morphological (i ptioi, a\ it \\'ere,that dctcrmines
tible in the present,then there must havebeen one at thc incep- the formation ancl shapcof cach p.rrt in relation to all thc rcst
t ion: t hc t h c o rv o f a s c e drv i th i n a s e e dand so on, ad i nfi ni tum, througha sort ol rt'ciprocalcausation.An<lagainlikc Kant, Bernard
\\'asthus a logical responseto the problem that gave rise to the I
taught t hat nat ur alor ganizar ioncannorbc t hought o{ as being in

296 197
any \r'ayakin to human agency,Strangerstill, after ruling out, on an organism rvasa set of strictly rclated basicmechanisms;con-
explicit grounds,any possibilitv of a technologicalmodel of or- ccivcd in terms ofan economic and political model' though, an
ganic unity, Kant hastenedto suggestorganic unity asa possible organismwas a set of structuresthat grew increasinglvcomplex
model for social organization.llBernardused the converseof the and diverseas thev assumedspccializedrcsponsibility fbr origi-
sameanalogywhen hc compared the unity of the multicellular nallv undifferentiatedfunctions.Betweenthe levcl of the elcmen-
organismto that of a human society.ffrudes, pp. 325-27] tarv ce ll and t hat of m an, Ber nar d explained, one f inds euer y
fl19l Claude Bemard acceptedcell theory, as he had to in order degrec of complerity as organ combines with organ. The most
to make experimentation in phvsiology possible. He elaborotedthe highlv developedanimals posscssmultiPlc systems:circulatory,
conccpt of the internal environment, and that, too, r,vasa neces- respiratory,nervousand so on.
sary condition for experimental physiology.The physiology of Phvsiologv$'as thus the kcy to organic totalization, the key
r egulat ion (o r h o m c o s ta s i s a
, s i t h a s b e en cal l ed si nce W al ter that anatomyhad failed to provide. The organsanclsystemsof a
BradfordCannon), together u-ith cytologic-morphology enabled highlv diff'ercntiated organism exist not lor themselvesor fbr
Bernardto treat the organismas a rvhole anclto develop an ana- other organsand systemsbut for cells, the countlessanatomical
lytic scienceoforganic functions u,ithout brushingasidethe f)ct radicals, lor u,hich thcy create an internal environment whose
that a living thing is, in the truc senscof the rvord, a synthesis. composition is maintainedin a stcadystateby a kind of feedback
Bernard'smost important remarkson the subjcct that concerns mccha nism .Bv joining in associat ionand inst it ut ing a kind of '
us here can be found in his Ieqons sur les phdnominesde la vie society, the basic elemcnts obtain the collective means to live
communsoux animaut et aut vigdtaux,basedon lectures he gave rhei r se par at clive': "1[ one could at ever r m om cnt cr e. r l(an envi-
at the Mus6um in the final vearsof his lifc. Thc structure of the ronment identical to that u,hich the actions of nearbyparts con-
organismreflects the exigcncicsoflife on a more basiclevel, that stantly creatc fbr a given clementarv organism, that organism
of t he c ell. T h e c e l l i ts e l f i s a n o rg a n i s m ,ei ther a di sti nct i ndi - l'ould live in ficcdom exactly as it lives in societv."rsThe Part
vidual or a constituent of a larger "societv" of cclls forming an dependson a u.holc that existssolelv in order to maintain it. Bv
animalor plant. The term "sociery,"which Rudolph Ludwig Karl refcrring all functions to the cell lcvel, general phvsiologv pro-
Virchou and Ernst llcinrich I laeckel also seizedupon at around vided an explanationlbr the fact that the structure of the rvhole
the sametime as Bernard,suggesteda model for the organicfunc- organism is subordinatr to the functions of each part. Made of
t ions v er y d i ffe re n t l ro m th e te c h n o l o gi cal model - namel y, cclls, the organismis also madefor cells, fbr partsthat are them-
an cconomic and political one. Complex organisms\r'ere now sclveslesscomplicated rvholes.
thought of as totalities comprising virtuallv autonomoussubor- The use of an econom ic and polit ical m odcl enablednine-
dinat e eleme n ts ." L i k e s o c i e ty ,th e o rg ani smi s constructedi n teenth-centurybiologists to understandrvhat the use ofa tech-
such a wav that thc conditions of clcmentary or individual life nologicalmodcl had preventedtheir predccessors from grasping.
'fhe
arc respected."ll Division oflabor llas the lar" for organismsas rclation of the parts to the n,hole is one of irretrdtio, (a con-
rvell asfbr societies.Conceivedin terms of a technologicalmodel, ccpt that latcr met r',.ithsuccessin neurophvsiologv),r'iith thc

298 299
Y
that those
survivalofthe P.rrtsl)eing the ultimatc cnd: thc parts \\'erescen viclualcells n'ere satisfled;l]crnard had hlpothesizcd
uhcn cells wcr e t nkr ll ot t t ol
n9 lqr ngerns i n s tru n re n tso t' p i c c c s b u t a s i t.,i rj dudl J A r a ti me coD di tionscoult l also bc