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date: 20 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter answers three basic questions: why did Descartes come to study medicine; how, as an untrained student of medicine, did he approach the discipline; and, finally, how did he propose to heal the body and soul? Starting in the 1620s, when his interests in optics prompted Descartes to study the anatomy of the eye and brain, through to his correspondence with Elisabeth in the 1640s, when he assumed the role of a corresponding physician against the backdrop of his mature metaphysics and natural philosophy, medicine is shown to be intimately connected to Descartes’s philosophical project as well as his practical aspirations.

Keywords: medicine, anatomy, optics, metaphysics, natural philosophy

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