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The Animal Spirit Doctrine and the Origins of Neurophysiology - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Animal Spirit Doctrine and the Origins of Neurophysiology

C.U.M. Smith, Eugenio Frixione, Stanley Finger, and William Clower


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. It focuses on a construct called animal spirit, which would permeate philosophy and guide physiology and medicine for over two millennia. The book's story opens along the Eastern Mediterranean, where it examines how Pre-Socratic philosophers related the soul to air-wind or pneuma. It then traces what Hippocrates, Plato, and Aristotle wrote about this pneuma, and how Stoic and Epicurean philosophers approached it. It also visits Alexandri ... More

Keywords: muscular system, behavior, sense organs, animal spirit, Plato, Hippocrates, Aristotle, Galen, pneuma psychikon, spiritus animae

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2012 Print ISBN-13: 9780199766499
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199766499.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

C.U.M. Smith, author
Vision Sciences, Aston University

Eugenio Frixione, author
History of Biology, Methodology, and Theory of Science Section, Center for Research and Advanced Studies (Cinvestav), Mexico City, Mexico

Stanley Finger, author
Psychology, Washington University