Canguilhem’s Hippocratic vitalism



Canguilhem’s vitalism is not obvious, neither does is consist of a more known form of this type of thinking; it does not come from the old diatribes that, coming from the 19th century, are still relevant to the 20th century’s discussions. Canguilhem reclaims vitalism from a unique ontological approach, and does not hesitate to allude to the classics and, most of all, to a Hippocrates that, read mainly through the perspective of the history written by Charles Singer, brings to light other themes such as the critic to the concept of homeostasis revitalized and named by Walter Cannon. Canguilhem gives another perspective to Hippocrates’ homeostasis, that was “scientified” by Cannon, giving it mobility that is considered essential to its concept and redraws the vitalism project, rejecting the place of mechanism antithesis. This paper aimed to map Canguilhem’s longue durée contribution to the medical discourse, as well as his funding role of a new conception of normality formulated from his own interpretation of a vitalism that, in his point of view, comes from a “Hippocratic spirit”.

Georges Canguilhem; vitalism and mechanism; Hippocratism and Galenism; vis medicatrix naturae

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