GEORGE BERNARD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GEORGE BERNARD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Descartes' De Homine. Cover of the first European textbook of physiology, Rene Descartes' De Homine. This first edition was published in 1662 after Descartes' death. Descartes (1596-1650) was a French philosopher and mathematician. The book was written as an appendix to Discours sur la methode (1637) but was suppressed by Descartes following the condemnation of Galileo in 1633. He based De Homine on the concept of a human machine created by God to be almost identical to a real person. This gave him the freedom to work beyond the restrictions of contemporary physiology and theology by explaining the body in purely mechanical terms.
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