In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

186Philosophy and Literature The Languages ofPsyche: Mind and Body in Enlightenment Thought. Clark Library Lectures 1985-1986, edited by G. S. Rousseau; 494 pp. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990, $55.00 cloth, $16.95 paper. Michel Foucault'sMadnessand Civilization and Birthofme Clinic—first published in 1961 and 1963, respectively—encouraged a critical rethinking ofthe Western psychiatric and medical traditions emerging from the European Enlightenment as institutions fundamental to the modern world. The Languages ofPsycL·, consisting of papers developed in a lecture series on the mind/body problem in the Enlightenment—a series to which Foucault had agreed to contribute a theoretical framework before his untimely death—provides as good an introduction as any to the most recent work on the beginnings of modern medicine. The essays, emerging from the vantage points of a variety ofdisciplines such as philosophy, literature, history, and medical history, are arranged in roughly chronological order and trace the developments found in the late 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries. The first important development was the increasing power of physicians, and decreasing significance of philosophers and religious figures, as arbiters of the mind/body problem. The second important development took place within medicine itself: the move on the part ofthe physicians from the mechanistic, body-oriented, and scientifically quantifiable approach of the early Enlightenment, characterized by Boerhaave and Hoffmann, for instance, to a psychological, mind-oriented, and much more humanistic approach in the late 18th century (exemplified by Battie, Pinel, and Reil), which in the early 19th century lost ground to positivism. Although these broad themes are not particularly new, the essays provide much fresh evidence for their validity. Several ofthe papers deserve special commendations. Flynn makes a thoughtprovoking attempt to find similar patterns of thinking and rhetoric in 18thcentury physicians and such novelists as Richardson, Sterne, and Smollett. In a way reminiscent of Thomas Mann's Naphta, Schaffer intelligendy undercuts the polarities which grounded the 18th-century self-understanding, linking, for instance, the rational Enlightenment with the occult via such favorite secret societies as the Illuminati. Morris shows how Sade relied on medicine for much of his anatomical and biological thinking, while he rejected its value system, specifically its attempts to subdue pain. In the volume's final essay, Popkin studies the Enlightenment medical and scientific justifications for racism directed at Africans and Jews, justifications which at times relied on cultural factors related to conceptions ofmind and at times relied on physical differences in the body. If the collection of essays has any problems, it is the presence of Foucault's ghost. The papers, which frequendy cite Foucault and are dedicated, as he was, Reviews187 to examining institutional discourses which have too often fallen between the cracks of current academic disciplinary structures, are certainly of interest as New Historical documents. As such, they are in danger of descending into a Foucauldian epigonism which is nothing more than pedantry without a point. At times exaggerated claims are made for the importance of medical figures who have been ignored (perhaps rightly) for the last two centuries; at other times paragraphs full of arcane knowledge seem inserted only to prove the erudition and archival industriousness of the authors. Overall, however, these essays escape the danger ofbecoming New Historical parodies and contribute valuably to the field. The anthology's admirable bibliography and thorough index make it all the more helpful. TL· Languages of PsycL· should prove useful both to scholars who need an overview of the history of medicine and an introduction to the most recent work in the field and to specialists looking to polish their own work with the results ofthe latest research. Whitman CollegeRobert Tobin The Shades ofAeneas: The Imitation ofVergilandtheHistory of Paganism in Boccaccio's Filostrato, Filocolo, and Teseida , by James H. McGregor; ix & 133 pp. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991, $30.00. James McGregor's Shades ofAeneas is a detailed study of three lesser-known works of Boccaccio: Filostrato, Filocolo, and Teseida. Its aim is to clarify the range of Vergilian and Statian allusions within these works and, in the process, to develop a coherent scheme for interpreting them. According to McGregor, all three ofthese early romances are highly critical ofthe pagan world they...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 186-187
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.