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What Is Medicine?Western and Eastern Approaches to Healing$
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Paul Unschuld

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780520257658

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520257658.001.0001

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A Cartesian Case for Circulation

A Cartesian Case for Circulation

68 A Cartesian Case for Circulation
What Is Medicine?

Paul U. Unschuld

University of California Press

This chapter focuses on the contributions of Descartes (1596–1650), an unconditional centralist who could imagine a healthy, strong organism only as one ruled by a central power. Thomas Fuchs on Descartes: “Instead of inherent principles, absolute laws that constitute one world of purely mechanical relationships rule over the living and the dead. The consequences of the machine paradigm are the fundamental features of automaticity of organ function, decline of self-movement and its replacement by the reflex.” Descartes was a more successful engineer than Harvey. The new packaging of Harvey's discovery by his colleague Descartes was broadly accepted but there was also some fault-finding.

Keywords:   absolute laws, machine paradigm, organ function, mechanical relationships, automaticity

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