Hegel and Brunonian Medicine

John Brown, Scottish physician, 1791. Brown (1735-1788) proposed the Brunonian system of medicine which had two classes of disease; sthenic (resulting...

John Brown, Scottish physician, 1791. Brown (1735-1788) proposed the Brunonian system of medicine which had two classes of disease; sthenic (resulting…

This paper aims to explore the reception of the biological concept of ‘excitability’ in early nineteenth century German philosophy, in order to examine Hegel’s mobilisation of this concept in his Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences.

Firstly, this will involve addressing John Brown’s introduction of ‘excitability’ [in his Elementa Medicinae, 1780] as an fundamental characteristic of the animal organism which can be brought into play in a theory of medicine.

Secondly, the paper will address the reception of this concept in early nineteenth century German philosophy, which was important in the work of thinkers such as Roschlaub, Kielmayer, Fichte and Schelling.

Our investigation of this reception will focus on the reinterpretation of excitability as a non-mechanical concept. The paper will use the understanding developed of this concept to examine Hegel’s particular reaction to it in his account of the animal organism and theory of illness, in order to see what of Brown’s theory Hegel takes up and, perhaps more importantly, what he rejects and why.

Autor: Lydia Azadpour.

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