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The Medicine of populations in Diderot & d'Alembert' s Encyclopedia

Grant number: 21/13099-1
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2022
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - History of Philosophy
Principal Investigator:Pedro Paulo Garrido Pimenta
Grantee:Caio Morello Labate
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):23/04966-9 - Diderot and medical vitalism: a materialist anthropology, BE.EP.IC


This research is divided into two parts and it seeks to explore the relations between the theoretical-explanatory models of XVIII century medicine and Denis Diderot's philosophy. Initially, since the concept of "populations" has been regarded as crucial to the historical-philosophical constitution of concerns currently assigned to what came to be understood as "public health", our first objectives are to understand the configuration process of theoretical and practical conditions to the emergency of a "medicine of populations" in the XVIII century french medical scene. Such a population-based model would have made possible that medicine conceived, in order to comprehend collective health and disease phenomena, a continuum between the sickened body's individual dimension and the collective dimension where many organisms fall ill. We, therefore, seek to characterize some of the many technical and conceptual transformations that resulted from this new medical perspective. In order to do so, we will examine and comment on twenty entries from Diderot and D'Alembert's Encyclopédie, emphasizing the metaphor, analogy and remission procedures through which we expect to observe the transformation of some aspects of Enlightenment's medical thought. In the second part of this research, we seek to investigate the relationship of such a "monist" medicine of populations with the materialist philosophy of nature developed by Diderot, notably from his interests in physiology. The philosophical development of possibilities created by a continuist comprehension of the organism's individuality and the population that it is part of will, thus, be characterized by the examination of the following works of Diderot: Pensées sur l'Interprétation de la Nature; Rêve de D'Alembert and fragments of the Éléments de Physiologie. (AU)

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