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ORIGINS OF MODERNITY

physiology & medicine

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Willis, Thomas (1621-1675)
De anima brutorum quae hominis vitalis ac sentitiva est : exercitationes duae.
Londini : Typis E.F. impensis Ric. Davis, Oxon, 1672.

Image from Willis' Lectiones geometricae

This work by the eminent physician Thomas Willis is a classic early modern work of physiological psychology. Based on his 1661 Oxford lectures, for which notes survive among the papers of John Locke and Richard Lower, this work completed Willisí trilogy on the brain. In it he argues for a material soul in humans which consists of two parts: the vital soul which is a flame in the blood; and a sensitive soul which consists of animal spirits which course through the brain and nervous system. The work also contains much comparative anatomy including discussions of oysters, earthworms and lobsters.

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