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Korean J Med Hist > Volume 21(1); 2012 > Article
Korean Journal of Medical History 2012;21(1): 141-170.
자비에르 비샤의 의학사상 : 프랑스 생기론의 역사적 맥락에서
Xavier Bichat's Medical Thought in the Historical Context of French Vitalism
Suyoung Hwang
Institut of Philosophy, Seoul national University, Seoul, Korea. hsy62@yahoo.co.kr
The French vitalism is different from vitalism in general. It is a position of some physiologists who worked from the end of the 18th century to the early days of the 19th century, defending the peculiarity of life phenomena in contrast to the Cartesian theory of the animal-machine. Its main representatives are Paul-Joseph Barthez and Theophile de Bordeu, who belonged to the vitalist school of Montpellier. They argue, in contrast to mechanism, that life involves a special principle and cannot be explained in terms of physical and chemical properties alone. Marie Francois Xavier Bichat (1771-1802), inheriting this position, endeavored to establish physiology as a science which cannot be reduced to the physical sciences. He was also the first to introduce the notion of tissues as distinct entities. The aim of his concept of physiology is to explain the whole of life phenomena through the ultimate properties of tissues, that is, through sensibility and contractility. After Bichat, Francois Magendie inherited his experimental concepts, but critiqued his vitalism. Claude Bernard, known as the founder of experimental physiology, was influenced considerably by Bichat's idea of physiology. Through the notion of tissues, he unites zoology, botany and medicine in the domain of general physiology. Additionally, his concept of "milieu interieur" results from his study of Bichat's physiology, particularly from the concept of the "natural type".
Key Words: Medical Thought, Vitalism, Life, Vital forces, Physiology, Animism, Organism, Sensibility, Contractility, Natural Type
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