Classics of Biology

By August Pi Suñer; Charles M. Stern | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
THE WHOLE AND ITS PARTS

CORRELATION AND OBJECT OF MORBOSE REACTIONS

OBSERVATION of the diseased in particular, and of living organisms in general, brings the conviction that there is a correlation of reactions composing life and that such unison is more or less normal or more or less unsettled according to circumstances. This was the view held by the Ancients, notably Hippocrates ( 467-357 B.C.) and Aristotle ( 384-322 B.C.). The body is a complete entity responding to the variable conditions of existence in an ordered and harmonious manner as a synergetic whole whose activities are directed to the preservation of life.

To explain processes developing in the best possible way in the living body, throughout the ages, recourse is taken nevertheless to the anthropomorphic theory of directive principles endowed with the human properties appertaining to the subject himself -- that is man, the curious and contemplative.


ANALYSIS OF REALITY

What we have to deal with then, is a metaphysical activity which has nothing whatsoever to do with positive science. Still, the whole stage of rational judgment changes when we try to discover what the Universe really is, by considering it as a system based on cause and effect. It then becomes necessary to split things up, to separate out our problems and to study facts by subjecting them to detailed analysis. Descartes ( 1637) laid down the following principle: "It is wise to split each difficulty under examination into as many separate parts as possible and convenient, in order the better to solve it." Analysis is the great discovery due to Descartes. "The purpose of analysis is to find out by means of one single truth or a particular fact the principles from which it derives." "Analysis is the means of establishing the truth of the first principles of all knowledge." Roger Bacon and Francis Bacon were the famous forerunners of Descartes.


FUNCTIONS OF THE ORGANS

Thus, in order to delve into the mysteries of life, it becomes necessary to study the working of every single one of the various parts of the

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