By Kathleen Wellman

Julien Offray de l. a. Mettrie, top referred to as the writer of L’Homme machine, seems to be as a minor personality in so much debts of the Enlightenment. yet during this highbrow biography via Kathleen Wellman, l. a. Mettrie—physician-philosophe—emerges as a vital determine whose clinical method of philosophical and ethical concerns had a profound impact at the interval and its legacy.
Wellman’s research offers l. a. Mettrie as an recommend of innovative clinical thought and perform who regularly utilized his scientific issues to the reform of philosophy, morals, and society. via reading his education with the Dutch general practitioner Hermann Boerhaave, his satires lampooning the lack of understanding and venality of the clinical career, and his scientific treatises on topics starting from vertigo to veneral ailment, Wellman illuminates the scientific roots of l. a. Mettrie’s philosophy. She exhibits how drugs inspired l. a. Mettrie to adopt an impiricist critique of the philosophical culture and supplied the basis for a scientific materialism that either formed his figuring out of the chances 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 l. a. Mettrie particularly bequethed to the fashionable international, La Mettrie makes a major contribution to our knowing of either that interval and our own.

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Extra resources for La Mettrie: Medicine, Philosophy, and Enlightenment

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Though his next work, Saint Cosme venge (1737),” continued his controversy with Astruc, La Mettrie changed his tactics radi cally. He did not attempt to refute Astruc directly, but instead ridiculed him, a stylistic device which seems suited to La Mettrie's skills and an appropriate tactic to employ against Astruc's pre tensions. Perhaps La Mettrie had realized that his direct attack on Astruc was ineffectual and that through satire he, the medical David, might be able to vanquish a Goliath of the Parisian medical faculty.

Instead, he ridiculed the principal members of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris, who were also, not surprisingly, the chief advocates for the doctors against the surgeons. ” The first question which bears some investigation is why, a mere four years later, he wrote vituperative, satirical portraits of his medical confreres. These would have, at the very least, provided ammuni tion for the enemies of the doctors in the professional battle to retain their privileged status in the face of the incursions of the surgeons.

These tactics allowed the surgical community in the course of the pamphlet war to espouse the new, to take command of it, and to claim that their commitment to the new sciences legitimated them and authorized their control of medicine. The most concrete and immediately influential result of the in crease in surgical visibility, in the domain of surgical practice, in educational level, and in proximity to the crown was the ordinance of 1724, which began a long process of returning surgical education to the surgeons and enabled the surgeons to claim that they rather than the doctors set the standards for medical practice.

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