2017, Number 4
Revista Habanera de Ciencias Médicas 2017; 16 (4)
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ABSTRACTIntroduction: Experiment Physiology is a successful science as it is shown in the amount of results, publications, societies, and the Nobel Prize. However, it faces new challenges today. Among them, we can mention: animist conceptions of a new type, diverse pressures that make experimentation difficult, and reductionism to other disciplines. Objective: To obtain, from history, the clues that contribute to face the challenges of present Physiology. Material and Method: The historical-logical method was used, from the era of the caves to the origin of experimental physiology and its final establishment. Results: A sequence of appearance and disappearance of the challenges was found. The animist interpretation of the functions began when the man used to live in caves, and finished in Greece with the physiologoi. The priority of observation proclaimed by Aristotle c atalyzed the beginning of Anatomy, and reductionism benefitted from Physiology. Shortly afterwards the origin of Physiology with Harvey (1628), there were attempts to reduce Physiology to physical (iatrophysics) and chemical laws (iatrochemistry), which both failed. These failures lead to the appearance of the new animism developed by Stahl and Barthez. Finally, the consolidation of experimental physiology in the 19th Century meant: a) the end of reductionism; b) the superiority of experimentation; c) the disappearance of Stahl-Barthez animism, and preformism. Conclusions: At present, Physiology faces challenges that are due to the past; these present challenges have a sequence of appearances and disappearances.