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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/826

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

which coördinates and regulates these physiological units into an organic whole.

In fact, the body is a machine of the nature of an army, not of that of a watch, or of an hydraulic apparatus. Of this army, each cell is a soldier, an organ a brigade, the central nervous system headquarters and field telegraph, the alimentary and circulatory system the commissariat. Losses are made good by recruits born in camp, and the life of the individual is a campaign, conducted successfully for a number of years, but with certain defeat in the long-run.

The efficacy of an army, at any given moment, depends on the health of the individual soldier, and on the perfection of the machinery by which he is led and brought into action at the proper time; and, therefore, if the analogy holds good, there can be only two kinds of diseases, the one dependent on abnormal states of the physiological units, the other on perturbation of their coordinating and alimentative machinery.

Hence, the establishment of the cell theory, in normal biology, was swiftly followed by a "cellular pathology," as its logical counterpart. I need not remind you how great an instrument of investigation this doctrine has proved in the hands of the man of genius, to whom its development is due; and who would probably be the last to forget that abnormal conditions of the coördinative and distributive machinery of the body are no less important factors of disease.

Henceforward, as it appears to me, the connection of medicine with the biological sciences is clearly defined. Pure pathology is that branch of biology which defines the particular perturbation of cell-life, or of the coördinating machinery, or of both, on which the phenomena of disease depend.

Those who are conversant with the present state of biology will hardly hesitate to admit that the conception of the life of one of the higher animals as the summation of the lives of a cell aggregate, brought into harmonious action by a coördinative machinery formed by some of these cells, constitutes a permanent acquisition of physiological science. But the last form of the battle between the animistic and the physical views of life is seen in the contention whether the physical analysis of vital phenomena can be carried beyond this point or not.

There are some to whom living protoplasm is a substance even such as Harvey conceived the blood to be, "summa cum providentia et intellectu infinem certum agens, quasi ratiocinio quodam"; and who look, with as little favor as Bichat did, upon any attempt to apply the principles and the methods of physics and chemistry to the investigation of the vital processes of growth, metabolism, and contractility. They stand upon the ancient ways; only, in accordance with that progress toward democracy which a great political writer has declared to be the fatal characteristic of modern times, they substitute a repub-