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The Animal Spirit Doctrine and the Origins of Neurophysiology$
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C.U.M. Smith, Eugenio Frixione, Stanley Finger, and William Clower

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199766499

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199766499.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 October 2021

René Descartes

René Descartes

(p.99) Chapter 6 René Descartes
The Animal Spirit Doctrine and the Origins of Neurophysiology

C. U. M. Smith

Eugenio Frixione

Stanley Finger

William Clower

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses René Descartes, who is an essential historical figure. It studies his highly influential work, where he tried to show how human neurophysiology and behavior could be entirely explained using mechanistic terms. It shows that Descartes' neurophysiology imagined that the body's musculature would be activated by “animal spirits” that course down tubular nerves. It determines that his ideas were more related to metaphysics than with physiological and anatomical reality. This chapter also states that Descartes was the first to make all nature inanimate.

Keywords:   René Descartes, human neurophysiology, inanimate, mechanistic terms, behavior, musculature, tubular nerves, metaphysics, anatomical reality

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