La Mettrie: Medicine, Philosophy, and Enlightenment by Kathleen Wellman

By Kathleen Wellman

Julien Offray de l. a. Mettrie, most sensible referred to as the writer of L’Homme machine, seems to be as a minor personality in so much bills of the Enlightenment. yet during this highbrow biography by means of Kathleen Wellman, l. a. Mettrie—physician-philosophe—emerges as a imperative determine whose clinical method of philosophical and ethical concerns had a profound impact at the interval and its legacy.
Wellman’s examine provides l. a. Mettrie as an recommend of innovative scientific idea and perform who always utilized his clinical issues to the reform of philosophy, morals, and society. by way of analyzing his education with the Dutch medical professional Hermann Boerhaave, his satires lampooning the lack of knowledge and venality of the clinical career, and his clinical treatises on matters starting from vertigo to veneral ailment, Wellman illuminates the clinical roots of los angeles Mettrie’s philosophy. She exhibits how drugs inspired l. a. Mettrie to adopt an impiricist critique of the philosophical culture and supplied the root for a clinical materialism that either formed his realizing of the probabilities of ethical and social reform and led him to espouse the reason for the philosophers.
Elucidating the clinical view of nature, people, and society that the Enlightenment and los angeles Mettrie particularly bequethed to the fashionable global, La Mettrie makes an immense contribution to our figuring out of either that interval and our own.

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Example text

In particular, the pamphlet war was fought over the control and delimitation of certain essen tial professional concerns, especially the legal status and training of members and the standardization of practices. ” The war both fostered increased competition between doctors and surgeons and served to develop a loose network among surgeons. Surgeons also enjoyed an enhanced relationship with patients at the expense of physicians: in this period patients chose surgeons not only for economic or social reasons but also because of surgical claims to technical competence, especially in one of the most crucial areas of eighteenth-century medical practice, bloodletting.

He clearly and deliberately used the arguments of the surgeons and understood that his satires would be construed as part of the pamphlet war. Furthermore, the possible self-interest of the author should not allow one to entirely discount the content of La Mettrie's satires, which went well beyond personal or professional concerns. His efforts were not narrowly focused on the specific gains the surgeons sought, that is, they were not simply another salvo in the pamphlet war. Instead, his satires were an attack on the foibles of members of the medical community, an indictment of the corporate workings of the Faculty, and finally an exposé of the ways in which proper standards of medical education and practice had been completely undermined by the society physician.

Thus La Mettrie was able to call into question all of Astruc's conclusions. For example, he claimed that Astruc contributed nothing to the treatment of vene real disease because the surgeons treated it; Astruc had probably never even seen a case. ” La Mettrie's disagreements with Astruc on the origin and treatment of venereal disease led him to question the relevance of medical scholarship and medical education. In arguing that experience, not scholarship, made one competent to practice, he argued the cause of the sur geons, because they had practical experience in the treatment of venereal disease.

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