The Animal Spirit Doctrine and the Origins of Neurophysiology

Hardcover | July 26, 2012

byC.U.M. Smith, Eugenio Frixione, Stanley Finger

not yet rated|write a review
How do we become aware of things and events in the outside world, and how does the brain control the muscular system and behavior? This book examines the history of Western attempts to explain how messages might be sent from the sense organs to the brain and from the brain to the muscles. Itfocuses on a construct called animal spirit, which would permeate philosophy and guide physiology and medicine for over two millennia.The authors' story opens along the Eastern Mediterranean, where they examine how Pre-Socratic philosophers related the soul to air-wind or pneuma. They then trace what Hippocrates, Plato and Aristotle wrote about this pneuma, and how Stoic and Epicurean philosophers approached it. They also visitAlexandria, where Hellenistic anatomists provided new thoughts about the nerves and the ventricles. Thereafter, the authors return to the Greek mainland, where they show how Galen's pneuma psychikon or spiritus animae would provide an explanation for sensations and movements.Galen's writings would guide science and medicine for well over a thousand years, albeit with some modifications. One change, found in early Christian writers Nemesius and Augustine, involved assigning perception, cognition, and memory to different spirit-filled ventricles. After examining howpious Scholastics later dealt with the nerve spirit, the authors turn to how questions began to be raised about it in the 1500s and 1600s. Here they examine the rise of modern science with its revealing experiments, microscopic observations, and attempts to break with the past. Descartes,Swammerdam, Borelli, Glisson, Willis, Newton, Hartley, Boerhaave and Haller are among the featured players in this part of the story. Nevertheless, the animal spirit doctrine continued to survive (although modified), because no adequate replacement for it was immediately forthcoming. The replacement theory stemmed from experiments on electric fishes started in the 1750s. Additional research on these fishes and then on frogseventually led scientists to abandon their time-honored ideas. The authors trace some of the developments leading to modern electrophysiology and end with an epilogue centered on what this history teaches us about paradigmatic changes in the life sciences.

Pricing and Purchase Info

$132.00

Ships within 1-3 weeks
Ships free on orders over $25

From the Publisher

How do we become aware of things and events in the outside world, and how does the brain control the muscular system and behavior? This book examines the history of Western attempts to explain how messages might be sent from the sense organs to the brain and from the brain to the muscles. Itfocuses on a construct called animal spirit...

Chris Smith holds degrees in Zoology, Physics and Biophysics and a PhD in Neuroscience. Since retiring as Dean of the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences at Aston in 1996 he has devoted his time to the history and philosophy of neuroscience. He has published a number of books on neuroscience and the history of biology and has edited...

other books by C.U.M. Smith

Brain, Mind and Consciousness in the History of Neuroscience
Brain, Mind and Consciousness in the History of Neurosc...

Kobo ebook|Apr 23 2014

$146.49 online$190.16list price(save 22%)
Biology of Sensory Systems
Biology of Sensory Systems

Hardcover|Feb 9 2009

$288.95

Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 11 × 8.5 × 0.98 inPublished:July 26, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199766495

ISBN - 13:9780199766499

Look for similar items by category:

Customer Reviews of The Animal Spirit Doctrine and the Origins of Neurophysiology

Reviews

Extra Content

Table of Contents

Section 1: The Doctrine IntroducedIntroductionChronology1. Psyche and soma2. Alexandria and Hellenistic psychophysiologySection 2: The Doctrine EstablishedIntroductionChronology3. Biblical anima-spirit4. The Islamic Ascendancy5. Animal spirit in an age of FaithSection 3: The Doctrine QuestionedIntroductionChronology6. Descartes7. Experiment and observation8. Theory and argumentSection 4: The Doctrine in RetreatIntroductionChronology9. Vibrations and subtle fluids10. Animal spirit in action11. Non-spiritual physiology I: "Physic" rather than "Psychic " Functions12. Non-spiritual physiology II: Irritable fibersSection 5: The Doctrine DiscardedIntroductionChronology13. The increasingly electrical world14. Electric fishes and the path to animal electricity15. From Fish to Frogs and nerve ElectricityEpilogueBibliographyIndex