Some Thoughts on the Endemiology of Cancer

  • Paul J. Rosch


The contemporary concept of illness and disease has been shaped to a large extent by two main influences. The first dates back to the 17th-century philosopher and mathematician René Descartes, whose enormous influence is unusual in view of the fact that he made no important scientific discoveries. In actuality, some of his concepts were fallacious, the most egregious being his refutation of Harvey’s theory of the circulation of the blood in favor of his own proposition that the heart worked as a heat engine. What Descartes did accomplish (Traité de l’Homme) with great apparent logic and literary skill, was the persuasion of the scientific community that all the structures and functions of the human body could be reduced to mechanical models. As such, a problem or difficulty in any system might be resolved by a detailed knowledge of the nature and function of each component portion of the system, so that the specific defect could be isolated and corrected. The soul or mind was assumed to be a direct gift from God and entirely separate and distinct from the workings of this machine.


Literary Skill Heat Engine Autogenic Training Contemporary Concept Enormous Influence 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul J. Rosch
    • 1
  1. 1.American Institute of StressYonkersUSA

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