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Experience and teleology: Hume's critique of physiology

Grant number: 16/24781-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): November 20, 2017
Effective date (End): December 23, 2017
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - History of Philosophy
Principal Investigator:Pedro Paulo Garrido Pimenta
Grantee:Pedro Paulo Garrido Pimenta
Host Investigator: Thomas Ahnert
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of Edinburgh, Scotland  


The project contains the general outlines of a research on the relations between philosophy, physiology and anatomy to be developed throughout April 2017 at the School of History, Classics and Archeology of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. The main resources are the texts on the subject written by David Hume and the medical treatises of two of the foremost physicians of the age, his contemporaries Robert Whytt and William Cullen, both of them part of the physiological tradition that developed in Europe in the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries. The idea is to study some of the writings of those authors, including manuscripts, in order to see the ways and means in which Scottish medical science positioned itself in relation to the critique of final causes and teleology made by Hume in the Treatise of human nature as well as in the Dialogues concerning natural religion. This critique, as is known, is directed against the idea that organized living creatures are structured according to an internal finality and that taken as species they form a teleological system that is part of Nature as a whole. The rejection of such notions by Hume pose interesting questions for the kind of empirical inquiry conducted by physiologists and anatomists in general, since it involves the assumption of final causes.

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