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The Animal Spirit Doctrine and the Origins of Neurophysiology$
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C.U.M. Smith, Eugenio Frixione, Stanley Finger, and William Clower

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199766499

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199766499.001.0001

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Vibrations and Subtle Fluids

Vibrations and Subtle Fluids

Chapter:
(p.147) Chapter 9 Vibrations and Subtle Fluids
Source:
The Animal Spirit Doctrine and the Origins of Neurophysiology
Author(s):

C. U. M. Smith

Eugenio Frixione

Stanley Finger

William Clower

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199766499.003.0009

This chapter introduces the vibration theory, which was unable to dethrone the doctrine of animal spirit. It discusses Isaac Newton's “aether,” which supposedly encompassed the universe and everything in it, including all living beings. Newton suggested a neurophysiology that was based on vibrations in the aether, which were confined in the nerves' “capillamenta.” It then studies David Hartley, who adapted Newton's idea and turned it into a comprehensive and physiological psychology. This chapter stresses that the vibration theory was able to reflect a growing disillusionment with the received doctrine, but didn't find favor with mainstream physiologists and anatomists.

Keywords:   vibration theory, aether, Isaac Newton, capillamenta, David Hartley, physiological psychology

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