The Physical and the Moral

The Physical and the Moral : Anthropology, Physiology, and Philosophical Medicine in France, 1750-1850

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This book explores the tradition of the 'science of man' in French medicine of the era 1750-1850, focusing on controversies about the nature of the 'physical-moral' relation and their effects on the role of medicine in French society. Its chief purpose is to recover the history of a holistic tradition in French medicine that has been neglected because it lay outside the mainstream themes of modern medicine, which include experimental, reductionist, and localistic conceptions of health and disease. Professor Williams also challenges existing historiography, which argues that the 'anthropological' approach to medicine was a short-term by-product of the leftist politics of the French Revolution. This work argues instead that the medical science of man long outlived the Revolution, that it spanned traditional ideological divisions, and that it reflected the shared aim of French physicians, whatever their politics, to claim broad cultural authority in French society.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 17mm | 450g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 12 Halftones, unspecified
  • 0521524628
  • 9780521524629
  • 1,530,271

Table of contents

List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; Introduction; 1. Montpellier vitalism and the science of man; 2. Anthropological medicine and the medical revolution; 3. Medical politics under the restoration: the fragmentation of the science of man; 4. Decline and dispersal: the science of man, 1830-48; Epilogue; Index.
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Review quote

"...a densely packed study that will contribute greatly to debate on the nature and meaning of the science of man, as well as to that on the origins of both anthropology and physiology as independent disciplines." Dorinda Outram, Isis "It is impossible in a brief review to do justice to this complex and richly suggestive analysis....Readers will surely admire Williams's shrewdly perceptive commentaries on individual texts." Matthew Ramsey, American Historical Review "In this thoughtful and thoroughly researched book, Williams has shown why France provided such fertile soil for what has come to be called the 'medicalization' of society. In the process, she has reconceptualized the history of French medicine, placing the developments of the Revolutionary decade into a broad chronological perspective." Clifford Rosenberg, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
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