Thesis ID: CBB933754293

How the Heart Became Muscle: From René Descartes to Nicolas Steno (2019)


Shillito, Alex Benjamin (Author)
Ariew, Roger (Advisor)

University of South Florida
Ariew, Roger
Publication date: 2019
Language: English

Publication Date: 2019
Physical Details: 161 pp.

This dissertation addresses the heartbeat and the systems of natural philosophy that were used to explain it in the 17th century. Thus, I work in two domains of explanation. The first domain is physiology, in which William Harvey correctly ordered the heart's systolic and diastolic motions, while René Descartes incorrectly reversed them. By looking at Harvey and Descartes' more complete physiological models I reconsider the controversy that spun out of their divergent accounts. The second domain is the junction of physics and metaphysics, representing the frameworks of natural philosophy behind physiology. I argue that Harvey's physiology was correct while his supporting principles were "wrong," and Descartes' physiology was incorrect while his supporting principles were "right." Thus, my thesis is that Harvey was "right" but perhaps for the wrong reasons, while Descartes was "wrong" but perhaps for the right reasons. Of course, this judgement is made from a contemporary perspective. By using a contextualist approach to history, I aim to show how the controversy between Harvey and Descartes resolved in Nicolas Steno, when he discovered that the heart is a muscle.

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Authors & Contributors
Albarracín Teulón, Augustín
Allchin, Douglas
Andrault, Raphaële
Bitbol-Hespériès, Annie
Carvallo, Sarah
Crignon, Claire
Substantia: An International Journal of the History of Chemistry
Archives Internationales d'Histoire des Sciences
British Journal for the History of Philosophy
Bruniana & Campanelliana: Ricerche Filosofiche e Materiali Storico-testuali
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Classiques Garnier
Edizioni ETS
Nivola Libros y Ediciones
University of Rochester Press
Circulation of the blood
Natural philosophy
Harvey, William
Descartes, René
Steno, Nicolaus
Buridan, Jean
Fernel, Jean François
Fontenelle, Bernard Le Bovier de
Time Periods
17th century
16th century
14th century
18th century
Early modern

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