- The Description of the Human Body
The Description of the Human Body (La description du corps humain) is an unfinished treatise written in 1647 by René Descartes. Descartes felt knowing oneself was particularly useful. This for him included medical knowledge. He hoped to cure and prevent disease, even to slow down aging.
René Descartes believed the soul caused conscious thought. The body caused automatic functions like the beating of the heart and digestion he felt. The body was necessary for voluntary movement as well as the will. However, he believed the power to move the body was wrongly imagined to come from the soul. A sick or injured body does not do what we want or moves in ways we do not want. He believed the death of the body stopped it from being fit to bring about movement. This did not necessarily happen because the soul left the body.
René Descartes believed the body could exist through mechanical means alone. This included digestion, blood circulation, muscle movement and some brain function. He felt we all know what the human body is like because animals have similar bodies and we have all seen them opened up.
He saw the body as a machine. He believed the heat of the heart somehow caused all movement of the body. Blood vessels he realized were pipes, he saw that veins carried digested food to the heart. (This was brought further by William Harvey. Harvey developed the idea of the circulation of the blood.) Descartes felt that an energetic part of blood went to the brain and there gave the brain a special type of air imbued with vital force that enabled the brain to experience, think and imagine. This special air then went through the nerves to the muscles enabling them to move.
The above is a remarkable mixture of advanced thought ahead of his time and unproved, unsound speculation which today would be called unscientific.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
human body — Introduction the physical substance of the human organism, composed of living cells and extracellular materials and organized into tissues, organs, and systems. Human anatomy and physiology are treated in many different articles. For… … Universalium
The Omega Glory — Star Trek: The Original Series episode The landing party encounters Captain Tracey Episode no. Episode 52 … Wikipedia
human disease — Introduction an impairment of the normal state of a human being that interrupts or modifies its vital functions. health versus disease Before human disease can be discussed, the meanings of the terms health, physical fitness, illness … Universalium
Human — Homo sapiens redirects here. For other uses, see Homo sapiens (disambiguation). This article is about modern humans. For other human species, see Homo. For other uses, see Human (disambiguation). Holozoa Human … Wikipedia
The 36 tattvas — In Kaśmir Śaivism, the 36 tattvas describe the Absolute, its internal aspects and the creation including living beings, down to the physical reality. The addition of 11 supplemental tattvas compared to the IAST|Sāṃkhya allows for a richer, fuller … Wikipedia
Human skin — Skin epidermis (A), dermis (B), and subcutis (C), showing a hair follicle (1), sweat gland (11) sebaceous gland (7) Latin cutis … Wikipedia
human aging — ▪ physiology and sociology Introduction physiological changes that take place in the human body leading to senescence, the decline of biological functions and of the ability to adapt to metabolic stress. In humans the physiological… … Universalium
The arts — This article is about Arts as a group of disciplines. For the philosophical concept of art, see Art. For other uses, see Art (disambiguation). Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts The arts are a vast subdivision of culture, composed of many… … Wikipedia
Body fat percentage — A person s body mass percentage is the total weight of the person s fat divided by the person s weight and consists of essential body fat and storage body fat. Essential body fat is necessary to maintain life and reproductive functions. The… … Wikipedia
The Decline of the West — Cover of Volume II, first edition, 1922 The Decline of the West (German: Der Untergang des Abendlandes), or The Downfall of the Occident, is a two volume work by Oswald Spengler, the first volume of which was published in the summer of 1918.… … Wikipedia