The Brain Takes Shape: An Early History

Hardcover | May 28, 2004

byRobert L. Martensen

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Using historical and anthropological perspectives to examine mind-body relationships in western thought, this book interweaves topics that are usually disconnected to tell a big, important story in the histories of medicine, science, philosophy, religion, and political rhetoric. Beginningwith early debates during the Scientific Revolution about representation and reality, Martensen demonstrates how investigators such as Vesalius and Harvey sought to transform long-standing notions of the body as dominated by spirit-like humors into portrayals that emphasized its solid tissues.Subsequently, Descartes and Willis and their followers amended this 'new' philosophy to argue for the primacy of the cerebral hemispheres and cranial nerves as they downplayed the role of the spirit, passion, and the heart in human thought and behavior. None of this occurred in a social vacuum, andthe book places these medical and philosophical innovations in the context of the religious and political crises of the Reformation and English Civil War and its aftermath. Patrons and their interests are part of the story, as are patients and new formulations of gender. John Locke's psychologyand the emergence in England of a constitutional monarchy figure prominently, as do opponents of the new doctrines of brain and nerves and the emergent social order. The book's concluding chapter discusses how debates over investigative methods and models of body order that first raged over 300years ago continue to influence biomedicine and the broader culture today. No other book on western mind-body relationships has attempted this.

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Using historical and anthropological perspectives to examine mind-body relationships in western thought, this book interweaves topics that are usually disconnected to tell a big, important story in the histories of medicine, science, philosophy, religion, and political rhetoric. Beginningwith early debates during the Scientific Revolu...

Robert L. Martensen is at Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans.

other books by Robert L. Martensen

Format:HardcoverDimensions:280 pages, 6.18 × 9.41 × 0.98 inPublished:May 28, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195151720

ISBN - 13:9780195151725

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Table of Contents

1. Bodies, Words, and Images2. Matter, Spirit, and the Heart3. The Human Mind and "Gland H": Cartesian Models of Mind, Brain, and Nerves4. When the Brain Came Out of the Skull5. Toward a New Physiology of Human Conduct6. Body of Witnesses7. The Transformation of Eve8. Mind Without Brain: John Locke, Thomas Syndenham, and the Constitutional Body of the British Enlightenment9. On the Persistence of the Cerebral Model and Its Alternatives: A Cultural Anthropology Perspective

Editorial Reviews

"...this is an excellent book that integrates Martensen's earlier writings on anatomy, theology, and women's bodies with newer materials in challenging and satisfying ways. It deserves a wide readership."--Journal of the History of Medicine