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November 1945

François Magendie: Pioneer in Experimental Physiology and Scientific Medicine in XIX Century France.

Arch NeurPsych. 1945;54(5):442. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1945.02300110126020

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François Magendie was born in 1783 and lived through the dramatic events in France of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Era, a course of events which had great importance in shaping his life. His father, a surgeon, was imbued with the strong liberal views of his time. He attempted to apply the principles of Rousseau to the educational development of his children. It may be that his early discipline and his freedom from restraint were transformed in later life to impulsive frankness, which often went too far in its vigorousness.

After Magendie obtained his medical degree, he wrote a scientific thesis which became the cornerstone for his future medical thinking and research. In this thesis he attacked the theories of Bichat. Bichat propounded the idea that an organism is imbued with "vital properties" and that the essence of these "vital properties" is that they are changeable and not measurable.

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