The French physician and philosopher Julien Offrayde La Mettrie is best known for his "Man a Machine," an incisive and witty exposition of his theory of the dependence of mind on body. Intended for the priesthood, he studied humanities at Coutances, rhetoric at Caen, and logic at the College of Plessis in Paris. At 15 he wrote an apologetic work on Jansenism. But this theological interest was short-lived, and in La Mettrie began 2 years of natural philosophy at the College of Harcourt. He received his degree in medicine at Rheims in and for the next 5 years practiced medicine in his native city.
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The year marks the th anniversary of la Mettrie's death. This paper commemorates his stormy life and the contribution he made to the neurosciences.
Trained as a physician, la Mattrie soon fell out with both the medical and ecclesiastical authorities and was exiled first to the Netherlands and then to Frederick the Great's circle of intellectuals at Sans Souci Berlin. Both are collected in the Oeuvres Philosophiques. This paper reviews these two ground-breaking tracts noting that, although they are both materialistic, and hence worthy of the odium theologicum into which they fell, they are not materialistic in the Cartesian sense.
La Mettrie is dismissive of the Cartesian concept of inanimate matter and the related notion of the 'beast-machine'. Instead, he sees an unbroken continuity between humans and the rest of nature. His vision is in many ways far ahead of its time and prefigures some of the dilemmas and concerns which our evolutionary neuroscience presents today: how is consciousness related to the goings on in the cerebrum? How can we be held responsible for what we do if all is material? His biographer, Raymond Boissier, writes that we can recognise in him an obscure predecessor of Lamarck and a prophet of things to come.
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Abstract The year marks the th anniversary of la Mettrie's death. Similar articles [The machine more than a machine or the automation transfigured. Julien Offray de la Mettrie's anthropology and the reinvention of the medical mechanism]. Lo Presti R.
PMID: French. Smith CU. J Hist Neurosci. PMID: Walusinski O. Eur Neurol. Epub Jan Marin Cureau de La Chambre , a 17th-century pioneer in neuropsychology. Rev Neurol Paris. Epub Jul PMID: Review. Chebili S. Show more similar articles See all similar articles. Publication types Biography Actions. Historical Article Actions. Portrait Actions. MeSH terms France Actions. History, 18th Century Actions. Search in PubMed Add to Search. Copy Download.
Julien Offroy de La Mettrie
He completed his training after another year at Leiden under the renowned Hermann Boerhaave, whose influence on him was decisive. From on, La Mettrie practiced medicine in the Saint-Malo district. Toward the end of , however, he left abruptly for Paris and soon thereafter embarked on the adventurous and harried career that lasted until his death. Between and he served as an army doctor in the War of the Austrian Succession. Its author, now regarded by the public as the most daring and dangerous of the Philosophes, was forced to flee again, this time to the court of Frederick II of Prussia, where he was appointed a member of the Royal Academy of Sceiences, as well as reader and physician to the king. In this protected situation he continued to write tracts on scientific and philosophical subjects that shocked the conventional-minded.
Man a Machine
The year marks the th anniversary of la Mettrie's death. This paper commemorates his stormy life and the contribution he made to the neurosciences. Trained as a physician, la Mattrie soon fell out with both the medical and ecclesiastical authorities and was exiled first to the Netherlands and then to Frederick the Great's circle of intellectuals at Sans Souci Berlin. Both are collected in the Oeuvres Philosophiques. This paper reviews these two ground-breaking tracts noting that, although they are both materialistic, and hence worthy of the odium theologicum into which they fell, they are not materialistic in the Cartesian sense.
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