jeudi 26 septembre 2013

La disparition de la médecine anthropologique

The demise of anthropological medicine: the challenges of experimental medicine and Mesmerism

Stephen Gaukroger (Sydney)

October 2: Ghent University room 007 at Blandijnberg 2 - groundfloor 

Up to the middle decades of the eighteenth century, it had been generally assumed that the two sole competing resources by which to understand the world and our place in it, were reason and revelation. But from the 1740s onwards, the claims of reason in this respect began to be seriously questioned, not by revelation but by sensibility. A number of developments offered a distinctive form of naturalization in explaining core aspects of human nature and human behaviour, that is, the translation of questions that had previously been taken as exclusively a priori or conceptual matters into a form in which empirical evidence becomes appropriate to answering them. Anthropological medicine focused on nervous sensibility as the route to understanding human behaviour, and by medicalizing this notion sought to establish medicine as the key to an ambitious naturalistic account of what might be termed the ‘human condition’, one that set the agenda not just for questions of health, but also for moral and political questions. The aim was to replace reason by sensibility as a tool for exploring the human condition. There are two crucial claims of anthropological medicine. The first is that sensibility connects us with the physical world, whereas reason does not. The second is that whereas reason must always remain speculative, sensibility, if naturalized in the right way, is open to empirical investigation, which means that matters can be settled by empirical evidence. I set out the grounds for these claims, and then show how they were each undermined in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the first by the investigation of mesmerism, the second by competing forms of naturalization of medicine

Series "Methods in Philosophy and History and Philosophy of Science" Organized by the Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences and the Sarton Centre for History of Science,
(Contact Charles Wolfe,

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