The Physical and the Moral: Anthropology, Physiology, and Philosophical Medicine in France, 1750-1850 (Cambridge Studies in the History of Medicine)

  • Publish Date: 1994-04-29
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Author: Elizabeth A. Williams
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This book explores the tradition of the science of man in French medicine of the era 1750-1850, focusing on controversies about the nature of the physical-moral relation and their effects on the role of medicine in French society. Its chief purpose is to recover the history of a holistic tradition in French medicine that has been neglected, because it lay outside the mainstream themes of modern medicine, which include experimental, reductionist, and localistic conceptions of health and disease. Professor Williams also challenges existing historiography, which holds that the anthropological approach to medicine was a short-term by-product of the leftist politics of the French Revolution. This work argues instead that the medical science of man long outlived the revolution, that it spanned traditional ideological divisions, and that it reflected the shared aim of French physicians, whatever their politics, to claim broad cultural authority in French society.