Cardiocentric neurophysiology: the persistence of a delusion

C.U.M. Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Aristotle is well known to have taught that the brain was a mere coolant apparatus for overheated blood and to have located the hegemonikon in the heart. This teaching was hotly disputed by his immediate successors in the Alexandrian Museum, who showed that the brain played the central role in psychophysiology. This was accepted and developed by the last great biomedical figure of classical antiquity - Claudius Galen. However, Aristotle's cardiocentric theory did not entirely disappear and this article traces its influence through the Arabic physicians of the Islamic ascendancy, into the European Middle Ages where Albertus Magnus' attempt to reconcile cardiocentric and cerebrocentric physiology was particularly influential. It shows how cardiocentricity was sufficiently accepted to attract the attention of, and require refutation by, many of the great names of the Renaissance, including Vesalius, Fernel, and Descartes, and was still taken seriously by luminaries such as William Harvey in the mid-seventeenth century. The article, in rehearsing this history, shows the difficulty of separating the first-person perspective of introspective psychology and the third-person perspective of natural science. It also outlines an interesting case of conflict between philosophy and physiology.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)6-13
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of the History of the Neurosciences
    Volume22
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jan 2013

    Fingerprint

    Neurophysiology
    Delusions
    Psychophysiology
    Natural Science Disciplines
    Museums
    Brain
    Names
    Teaching
    History
    Psychology
    Physicians
    Aristotle
    Persistence
    Physiology
    Renaissance
    Conflict (Psychology)
    Blood
    First-person Perspective
    Natural Science
    Refutation

    Keywords

    • Albertus Magnus
    • Aristotle
    • Avicenna
    • brain
    • Descartes
    • heart
    • Hegemonikon
    • Hippocrates
    • Vesalius

    Cite this

    @article{1672c87bc10441b3beb688fa647ebd4a,
    title = "Cardiocentric neurophysiology: the persistence of a delusion",
    abstract = "Aristotle is well known to have taught that the brain was a mere coolant apparatus for overheated blood and to have located the hegemonikon in the heart. This teaching was hotly disputed by his immediate successors in the Alexandrian Museum, who showed that the brain played the central role in psychophysiology. This was accepted and developed by the last great biomedical figure of classical antiquity - Claudius Galen. However, Aristotle's cardiocentric theory did not entirely disappear and this article traces its influence through the Arabic physicians of the Islamic ascendancy, into the European Middle Ages where Albertus Magnus' attempt to reconcile cardiocentric and cerebrocentric physiology was particularly influential. It shows how cardiocentricity was sufficiently accepted to attract the attention of, and require refutation by, many of the great names of the Renaissance, including Vesalius, Fernel, and Descartes, and was still taken seriously by luminaries such as William Harvey in the mid-seventeenth century. The article, in rehearsing this history, shows the difficulty of separating the first-person perspective of introspective psychology and the third-person perspective of natural science. It also outlines an interesting case of conflict between philosophy and physiology.",
    keywords = "Albertus Magnus, Aristotle, Avicenna, brain, Descartes, heart, Hegemonikon, Hippocrates, Vesalius",
    author = "C.U.M. Smith",
    year = "2013",
    month = "1",
    day = "16",
    doi = "10.1080/0964704X.2011.650899",
    language = "English",
    volume = "22",
    pages = "6--13",
    journal = "Journal of the History of the Neurosciences",
    issn = "0964-704X",
    publisher = "Taylor & Francis",
    number = "1",

    }

    Cardiocentric neurophysiology : the persistence of a delusion. / Smith, C.U.M.

    In: Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, Vol. 22, No. 1, 16.01.2013, p. 6-13.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Cardiocentric neurophysiology

    T2 - the persistence of a delusion

    AU - Smith, C.U.M.

    PY - 2013/1/16

    Y1 - 2013/1/16

    N2 - Aristotle is well known to have taught that the brain was a mere coolant apparatus for overheated blood and to have located the hegemonikon in the heart. This teaching was hotly disputed by his immediate successors in the Alexandrian Museum, who showed that the brain played the central role in psychophysiology. This was accepted and developed by the last great biomedical figure of classical antiquity - Claudius Galen. However, Aristotle's cardiocentric theory did not entirely disappear and this article traces its influence through the Arabic physicians of the Islamic ascendancy, into the European Middle Ages where Albertus Magnus' attempt to reconcile cardiocentric and cerebrocentric physiology was particularly influential. It shows how cardiocentricity was sufficiently accepted to attract the attention of, and require refutation by, many of the great names of the Renaissance, including Vesalius, Fernel, and Descartes, and was still taken seriously by luminaries such as William Harvey in the mid-seventeenth century. The article, in rehearsing this history, shows the difficulty of separating the first-person perspective of introspective psychology and the third-person perspective of natural science. It also outlines an interesting case of conflict between philosophy and physiology.

    AB - Aristotle is well known to have taught that the brain was a mere coolant apparatus for overheated blood and to have located the hegemonikon in the heart. This teaching was hotly disputed by his immediate successors in the Alexandrian Museum, who showed that the brain played the central role in psychophysiology. This was accepted and developed by the last great biomedical figure of classical antiquity - Claudius Galen. However, Aristotle's cardiocentric theory did not entirely disappear and this article traces its influence through the Arabic physicians of the Islamic ascendancy, into the European Middle Ages where Albertus Magnus' attempt to reconcile cardiocentric and cerebrocentric physiology was particularly influential. It shows how cardiocentricity was sufficiently accepted to attract the attention of, and require refutation by, many of the great names of the Renaissance, including Vesalius, Fernel, and Descartes, and was still taken seriously by luminaries such as William Harvey in the mid-seventeenth century. The article, in rehearsing this history, shows the difficulty of separating the first-person perspective of introspective psychology and the third-person perspective of natural science. It also outlines an interesting case of conflict between philosophy and physiology.

    KW - Albertus Magnus

    KW - Aristotle

    KW - Avicenna

    KW - brain

    KW - Descartes

    KW - heart

    KW - Hegemonikon

    KW - Hippocrates

    KW - Vesalius

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84872833410&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    UR - http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/0964704X.2011.650899

    U2 - 10.1080/0964704X.2011.650899

    DO - 10.1080/0964704X.2011.650899

    M3 - Article

    C2 - 23323528

    AN - SCOPUS:84872833410

    VL - 22

    SP - 6

    EP - 13

    JO - Journal of the History of the Neurosciences

    JF - Journal of the History of the Neurosciences

    SN - 0964-704X

    IS - 1

    ER -