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Thomas Willis, the Restoration and the First Works of Neurology

  • Louis Caron (a1)


This article provides a new consideration of how Thomas Willis (1621–75) came to write the first works of ‘neurology’, which was in its time a novel use of cerebral and neural anatomy to defend philosophical claims about the mind. Willis’s neurology was shaped by the immediate political and religious contexts of the English Civil War and Restoration. Accordingly, the majority of this paper is devoted to uncovering the political necessities Willis faced during the Restoration of the English monarchy in 1660, with particular focus on the significance of Willis’s dedication of his neurology and natural philosophy to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Gilbert Sheldon. Because the Restoration of Charles II brought only a semblance of order and peace, Willis and his allies understood the need for a coherent defense of the authority of the English church and its liturgy. Of particular importance to Sheldon and Willis (and to others in Sheldon’s circle) were the specific ceremonies described in the Book of Common Prayer, a manual that directed the congregation to assume various postures during public worship. This article demonstrates that Willis’s neurology should be read as an intervention in these debates, that his neurology would have been read at the time as an attempt to ground orthodox worship in the structure of the brain and nerves. The political necessities that helped to shape Willis’s project also help us to better understand Willis’s innovative insistence that philosophical statements about the mind should be formulated only after a comprehensive anatomical investigation of the brain and nerves.

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1. Wood, Anthony, Athenae Oxonienses: An Exact History of All the Writers and Bishops Who Have Had Their Education in the Most Ancient and Famous University of Oxford (London, 1692), ii. 402.

2. Martensen, Robert L., ‘Willis, Thomas (1621–75)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, Online Edition, 2007) Cited below as ODNB.

3. Fielding H. Garrison, History of Neurology, Lawrence C. McHenry Jr (ed.) (Springfield: Thomas, 1969),55–60; Israel S. Wechsler, A Textbook of Clinical Neurology with an Introduction to the History of Neurology (Philadelphia: Saunders, 1958), 709–10; Stanley Finger, Origins of Neuroscience: A History of Exploration into Brain Function (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 209; Graham Richards, Mental Machinery: The Origins and Consequence of Psychological Ideas. Part 1: 1600–1850 (London: Athlone Press, 1992), 74–5; Walther Riese, A History of Neurology (New York: MD Publications, 1959), esp. 7 and 63–4; Sidney Ochs, A History of Nerve Functions: From Animal Spirits to Molecular Mechanisms (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004) 75–83; Hansruedi Isler, Thomas Willis, 1621–75: Doctor and Scientist (New York: Hafner Pub. Co., 1968); James P B O’Connor, ‘Thomas Willis and the Background to Cerebri Anatome’, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 96, 3 (2003), 139–43; A. N. Williams, ‘Thomas Willis’s Practice of Paediatric Neurology and Neurodisability’, Journal of the History of Neurosciences, 12, 4 (2003) 350–67, esp. cf. 351; F. Clifford Rose, The History of British Neurology (London: Imperial College Press, 2012), 17–40.

4. Cf. Isler, Thomas Willis, 106, 191–2; Hansruedi Isler, ‘The development of neurology and the neurological sciences in the 17th century’, in Stanley Finger, François Boller, and Kenneth L. Tyler (eds), History of Neurology (Edinburgh: Elsevier, 2010), 91–106; John D. Spillane, The Doctrine of the Nerves: Chapters in the History of Neurology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), 107; J. Trevor Hughes, Thomas Willis (1621–75): His Life and Work (London: Royal Society of Medicine Services, 1991), 20, 30–1; See the introductions to Kenneth Dewhurst, Thomas Willis’s Oxford Lectures (Oxford: Sandford Publications, 1980); Kenneth Dewhurst, Willis’s Oxford Casebook 1650–52 (Oxford: Sandford Publications, 1981).

5. Willis’s biographers disagree over his father’s educational history, for which see John Fell, Postscript, in Thomas Willis, Pharmaceutice Rationalis: Or, An Exercitation of the Operations of Medicines in Humane Bodies, pt II, sigs. A3r–A4r, quoted from sig. A3v, which was reprinted in Thomas Willis, Dr Willis’s Practice of Physick, Being all the Works of that Renowned and Famous Physician, Samuel Pordage (trans.), (London, 1684). All citations of Willis’s works are drawn from Pordage’s translation and cited by the title and the page number of each work as they appear in the 1684 edition. Compare Fell’s account at the end of the Pharmaceuticae Rationalis with Wood, Athenae Oxonienses, ii. 403.

6. On the degree requirements see Robert G. Frank Jr., ‘Medicine’, in Nicholas Tyacke (ed.), The History of the University of Oxford; Volume IV, Seventeenth-Century Oxford (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 508: 516–20; Details regarding Willis’s degrees are also reported in Robert Martenson, ‘Willis, Thomas (1627–75)’, ODNB. On the granting of degrees see Ian Roy and Dietrich Reinhart, ‘Oxford and the civil wars’, in Seventeenth-Century Oxford, 708; Frank, ‘Medicine’, in ibid., 514.

7. Willis’s sole surviving casebook from 1650–52, which is in the Wellcome Trust Library in London, has been translated and edited by Dewhurst as Willis’s Oxford Casebook, op. cit. (note 4); see also Kenneth Dewhurst, ‘Some Letters of Dr Thomas Willis 1621–75’, Medical History, 16 (1972), 63–76.

8. Frank, op. cit. (note 6), 543; Robert G. Frank, Harvey and the Oxford Physiologists: A Study of Scientific Ideas (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980), 101–3; Toby Barnard, ‘Petty, Sir William (1623–87)’, ODNB.

9. The incident was published in an account by Richard Watkins, Newes From the Dead. Or A True and Exact Narration of the Miraculous Deliverance of Anne Greene (Oxford, 1651) quoted from 8. Scott Mandelbrote, ‘William Petty and Anne Greene: Medical and Political Reform in Commonwealth Oxford’ in The Practice of Reform in Health, Medicine, and Science, 1500–2000; Margaret Pelling and Scott Mandelbrote (eds), Essays for Charles Webster (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), esp. 125–6.

10. Michael Hunter, ‘Boyle, Robert 1627–91’, ODNB.

11. Bodleian Library, MS Aubrey 12, fol. 294r.

12. Aubrey reported that Willis ‘hath written a treatise De Fermentatione’. The Hartlib Papers, 2nd edn (Sheffield: University of Sheffield, 2002) ‘Ephemerides’ 1656, 29/5/102A. Frank, Harvey and the Oxford Physiologists, op. cit. (note 8), 165.

13. Michael Hawkins, ‘Piss Profits: Thomas Willis, His Diatribae Duae and the Formation of His Professional Identity’ History of Science, 44 (2011), 1–24.

14. Willis, Two Treatises, A4v.

15. Willis, Soul of Brutes, A2r.

16. There are three titles that do not follow this general rule. They are Thomas Willis, Affectionum Quae Dicuntur Hystericae et Hypochondriacae Pathologia Spasmodica Vindicata, Contra Responsionem Epistolarem Nathanae Highmori. M D. (London, 1670); Thomas Willis, Pharmaceutice rationalis, sive, Diatriba de medicamentorum operationibus in humano corpore, published in two parts (Oxford, 1674–5); Thomas Willis, A plain and Easie Method for Preserving (by God’s blessing) Those that are Well from the Infection of the Plague, or any Contagious Distemper in City, Camp, Fleet, & c. and for Curing Such as are Infected with it: Written in the Year 1666 (London, 1691).

17. Op. cit. (note 14).

18. Anthony Milton, ‘Laud, William (1573–1645)’, ODNB.

19. John Morrill, ‘The religious context of the English Civil War’, in John Morrill (ed.), The Nature of the English Revolution (Essex: Longman, 1993), 51.

20. Como, David, ‘Predestination and Political Conflict in Laud’s London’, Historical Journal, 46 (2003), 263294.

21. John Spurr, The Restoration Church of England, 1646–89 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991), 5–7; 18–20: John Morrill, ‘Attack on the Church of England’, English Revolution, 172–3; Robert Bosher, The Making of the Restoration Settlement: The Influence of the Laudians, 1649–62 (Westminster: Dacre Press, 1957), 16–17.

22. Hammond and Sheldon were traveling with Charles I as his chaplains until December of 1647. Hugh de Quehen, ‘Hammond, Henry (1605–60)’, ODNB; John Spurr, ‘Sheldon, Gilbert (1598–1677)’, ODNB.

23. Roy and Reinhart, ‘The Civil Wars’, History of the University of Oxford, 695.

24. Spurr, ‘Sheldon, Gilbert’, ODNB.

25. Roy and Rienhart, op. cit. (note 23), 724–6.

26. See the unpaginated postscript to the second part of Pharmaceutice Rationalis: Or, An Exercitation of the Operations of Medicines in Humane Bodies, op. cit. (note 5); Wood, Athenae, op. cit. (note 1) ii. 402.

27. Willis, op. cit. (note 15), 224–5; John Fell, The Life of the Most Learned, Reverend and Pious Dr Hammond (London, 1661), 224.

28. British Library, MS Harley 6942 fo. 66r, 87r.

29. Hammond’s will has been reproduced in John Packer, The Transformation of Anglicanism 1643–60 with Special Reference to Henry Hammond (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1969), plate 1.

30. Willis, op. cit. (note 15), 160.

31. Cf. Robert G. Frank, ‘Thomas Willis and his circle: brain and the mind in seventeenth-century medicine’, in G.S. Rousseau (ed.), The Languages of Psyche: Mind and Body in Enlightenment Thought: Clark Library Lectures 1985–6 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 107–46: 113–4: 123; Robert G. Frank, ‘Willis, Thomas’, in Charles Gillispie, Frederic L. Holmes, Noretta Koertge (eds), Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography (Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2008), xiv. 404–9; cf. as well the works cited above in note 4.

32. Cf. Michael Hawkins, ‘“A Great and Difficult Thing”: understanding and explaining the human machine in restoration England’, in Iwan Rhys Morus (ed.), Bodies/machines (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2002), 15–38.

33. Robert Martensen, ‘“Habit of Reason”: Anatomy and Anglicanism in Restoration England’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine 66, 4 (1992), 511–35, quoted from 511 and 533; See also Robert Martensen, The Brain Takes Shape; an Early History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 88; Robert Martensen, ‘When the brain came out of the skull: Thomas Willis (1621–75), anatomical technique and the formation of the “cerebral body” in seventeenth century England’, in F. Clifford Rose (ed.), A Short History of Neurology: The British contribution 1660–1910 (Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1999), 19–35.

34. Rina Knoeff, ‘The Reins of the Soul: The Centrality of the Intercostal Nerves to the Neurology of Thomas Willis and to Samuel Parker’s Theology’, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 59, 3 (2004), 413–40.

35. Kenneth Fincham and Stephen Taylor, ‘Episcopalian conformity and non-conformity, 1640–60’ in Jason McElligott and David Smith (eds), Royalists and Royalism during the Interregnum (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010), 21–2: 24: 30–3; Spurr, Restoration Church, op. cit. (note 21), 9, 141–3; Henry Hammond, A Practical Catechism (London, 1649); Richard Allestree, The Whole Duty of Man (London, 1658), and in multiple editions thereafter.

36. The claims about Sheldon’s instrumental role in the formulation of the acts of uniformity are laid out by Spurr, Restoration Church, 47–8. Andrew M. Coleby, ‘Dolben, John (1625–86)’ ODNB; Spurr, ‘Allestree, Richard (1621/2–81)’, ODNB. Vivienne Larminie, ‘Fell, John (1625–86)’, ODNB.

37. Martensen, ‘Willis, Thomas (1621–75)’, ODNB.

38. Mark Goldie, ‘Danby, the Bishops and the Whigs’, in Tim Harris, Paul Seaward, and Mark Goldie (eds), The Politics of Religion in Restoration England (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990), 75–106, esp. 77–8.

39. Spurr, Restoration Church, op. cit. (note 21), 43–7.

40. Bodleian Library, MS Carte 45, f. 151r. Originally quoted in Spurr, ‘Sheldon’, ODNB.

41. Bodleian Library, MS Add. C 308, fos. 73v, 76r-v, 79v, 80r, 140v–141r.

42. Willis, Anatomy of the Brain, G2v.

43. Willis, op. cit. (note 42), A4r.

44. Anthony Milton, Catholic and Reformed: The Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant Thought, 1600–40 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996 [2002]).

45. Nicholas Tyacke, Anti-Calvinists: The Rise of English Arminianism c.1590–1640 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990 [1987]).

46. David Como, ‘Puritans, predestination, and the construction of orthodoxy in seventeenth-century England’ in Peter Lake and Michael Questier (eds), Conformity and Orthodoxy in the English Church, c. 1560–1642 (Suffolk: Woodbridge, 2000), 64–87; Peter White, Predestination, Policy and Polemic; Conflict and Consensus in the English Church from the Reformation to the Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

47. See for example Jacqueline Rose, ‘John Locke, “Matters Indifferent”, and the Restoration of the Church of England’, Historical Journal 48 (2005), 601–21.

48. Sarah Mortimer, Reason and Religion in the English Revolution: The Challenge of Socinianism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 82–3: 124–32.

49. Jean Calvin, The Institution of Christian religion, Wrytten in Latine by maister Ihon Caluin, and Translated into Englysh According to the Authors Last Edition (London, 1561), I.xv.2.

50. Calvin, Institutes, I.xv.6.

51. Calvin, op. cit. (note 49) II.ii.15–16.

52. Ibid., II.ii.19.

53. Calvin, op. cit. (note 49), II.viii.1.

54. Henry Hammond, A Paraphrase and Annotations Upon All the Books of the New Testament (London, 1653), 711.

55. John P. Wright, ‘Locke, Willis, and the seventeenth-century Epicurean soul’, in Margaret J. Osler (ed.), Atoms, Pneuma and Tranquility; Epicurean and Stoic Themes in European Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 239–58.

56. Willis, Soul of Brutes, op. cit. (note 5), 40–1.

57. John Morrill, ‘Religious Context’, 46 and 52–68; John Morrill, ‘Attack on the Church of England’, both in The Nature of the English Revolution, op. cit. (note 19), esp. 172–3; Kenneth Fincham and Nicholas Tyacke, Altars Restored; The Changing Face of English Religious Worship, 1547–c.1700 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 225; Spurr, Restoration Church, op. cit. (note 21), 5–7: 18–20; Bosher, Restoration Settlement, op. cit. (note 21), 16–7.

58. A Directory For The Publique Worship of God, Throughout the Three Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland (London, 1644), 1.

59. John Owen, A Vision of Unchangeable Free Mercy (London, 1646), 29.

60. John Owen, A Display of Arminiansime (London, 1643), 3.

61. John Owen, Truth and Innocence Vindicated in a Survey of a Discourse Concerning Ecclesiastical Polity, and the Authority of the Civil Magistrate over the Consciences of Subjects in Matters of Religion (London, 1669), 70.

62. Henry Hammond, Of Conscience (Oxford, 1645), 10, 12.

63. Ibid., 9–10.

64. Henry Hammond, Of Sinnes of Weakness, Willfullness: and Appendant to it, a Paraphristicall explication of two difficult Texts, Heb. 6. and Heb. 10 (Oxford, 1645), 6–8, quoted from 8.

65. The Book of Common Prayer, And Administration of the Sacraments, And Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England (London, 1662), B4v. Spurr, Restoration Church, 38–40; Bosher, Restoration Settlement, 226–30.

66. Directory, op. cit. (note 58), A1r, 5.

67. Henry Hammond, A View of the New Directorie and a Vindication of the Ancient Liturgie of the Church of England in Answer to the Reasons Pretended in the Ordinance and Preface, for the Abolishing the One, and Establishing the Other (London, 1646), 27.

68. Ibid., 29.

69. Mortimer, Reason and Religion in the English Revolution, op. cit. (note 48), 130–1; Henry Hammond, Considerations of Present Use Concerning the Danger Resulting From the Change of Our Church Government (London, 1645), 6–7: 12–3.

70. Willis, Soul of Brutes, op. cit. (note 5), 46.

71. Ibid., 47.

72. Willis, Anatomy of the Brain, op. cit. (note 5), 45.

73. Ibid., 106.

74. Ibid., G2r.

75. Neher, Allister, ‘Christopher Wren, Thomas Willis and the Depiction of the Brain and Nerves’, Journal of Medical Humanities, 30, 3 (2009), 191200.

76. Willis, Anatomy of the Brain, op. cit. (note 5), G4v.

77. Michael Hunter, Antonio Clericuzio and L.M. Principe (eds), The Correspondence of Robert Boyle (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2001), ii. 1–3, emphasis mine.

78. Cf. Frank, ‘Willis and His Circle’, op. cit. (note 31), 118–29.

79. Wood, Athenæ, op. cit. (note 1), ii. 402–3.

80. For a cutting critique of Willis’s neurological theories, see for example Ysbrand van Diemerbroeck, The Anatomy of Human Bodies, Comprehending the most Modern Discoveries and Curiosities in that Art, William Salmon (trans.) (London, 1689), esp. 404. See also the discussion of Nicolas Steno below.

81. Willis, Of Fevers, op. cit. (note 5), 47, 45.

82. Willis, Anatomy of the Brain, op. cit. (note 5), c.1 passim.

83. Ibid., 46.

84. Willis, Anatomy of the Brain, op. cit. (note 5), 57, 78–9.

85. Cf. Rose, The History of British Neurology, op. cit. (note 2), 35.

86. Willis, Of Fermentation, op. cit. (note 5), 3. Pordage’s translation is taken from the enlarged edition, which appeared in 1660 and contains a number of alterations from the earlier 1659 text. See Thomas Willis, Diatribae Duae Medico-philosophicae…Editio Secunda, Ab Authore recognita, atque ab eodem multiplici Auctario locupletata (London, 1660), 6.

87. Willis, Anatomy of the Brain, op. cit. (note 5), 73.

88. Ibid., 79.

89. Willis, Anatomy of the Brain, op. cit. (note 5), 91.

90. Ibid., G3r.

91. Ibid., 45, 49.

92. Galen, On the Usefulness of the Parts of the Body, Margaret Tallmadge May (trans.) (New York: Cornell University Press, 1968), i. 53–5: 61–3.

93. Ephraim Chambers, Cyclopaedia: Or, an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (London, 1741), s.v. ‘Anatomy’; Andrea Carlino, Books of the Body; Anatomical Ritual and Renaissance Learning, John Tedeschi and Anne C. Tedeschi (trans.) (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1999), 27–53: 40–1; Andrew Wear, ‘Medicine in Early Modern Europe, 1500–1700’ in Lawrence I. Conrad, Michael Neve, Vivian Nutton et al. (eds), The Western Medical Tradition 800 BC to AD 1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 273–85; Andrew Cunningham, The Anatomical Renaissance; The Resurrection of the Anatomical Projects of the Ancients (Aldershot: Scolar, 1997), 88–142.

94. Andreas Vesalius, De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem (Brussels, 1543), 652, ‘…plurbius enim reiteratis sectionibus, operatio turpiter uitiatur’.

95. Costanzo Varolio, Anatomiae, Sive De resolvtione Corporis Humani Ad Caesarem Mediouillanum Libri IIII (Frankfurt, 1591), 141.

96. Varolio, Anatomiae, 132.

97. Ibid., 8–9.

98. Willis, Anatomy of the Brain, op. cit. (note 5), 79.

99. Frank, Oxford Physiologists, op. cit. (note 8), 50; Johann Vesling, The Anatomy of the Body of Man, Nicholas Culpepper (trans.) (London, 1653), 58–64; This is Culpeper’s translation of Johann Vesling, Syntagma Anatomicum: Locis Plurimis Auctum, Emendatum, Novisque Iconibus Diligenter Exornatum (Padua, 1647).

100. Adriaan van den Spiegel, De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Decem (Venice, 1627), 316: 325.

101. Nathaniel Highmore, Corporis Humani Disquisitio Anatomica in qva Sanguinis Circulationem in quavis Corporis particular plurimis typis novis, ac Ænygmatum Medicorum succincta dilucidatione ornatam prosequutus est (The Hague, 1651), A2v, 210.

102. An overview of the relationship between learned medicine and natural philosophy is Ian Maclean, Logic, Signs and Nature in the Renaissance: The Case of Learned Medicine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 80–3, and in Andrew Cunningham, ‘The Pen and the Sword: Recovering the Disciplinary Identity of Physiology and Anatomy Before 1800 I: Old Physiology – the Pen’, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and the Biomedical Sciences, 33 (2002), 631–65; Andrew Cunningham, ‘The Pen and the Sword: Recovering the Disciplinary Identity of Physiology and Anatomy before 1800 II: Old Anatomy – the sword’, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and the Biomedical Sciences, 34 (2003), 51–76, esp. 64–5.

103. In this respect, Willis stands apart from late scholastic thinkers. See Michael Edwards, ‘Body, soul and anatomy in late Aristotelian psychology’, in Gideon Manning (ed.), Matter and Form in Early Modern Science and Philosophy (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 33–76.

104. Gregor Reisch, Natural Philosophy Epitomised: A Translation of books 8–11 of Gregor Reisch’s Philosophical Pearl (1503), Andrew Cunningham and Sachiko Kusukawa (ed. and trans.) (Surrey: Farnham, 2010), 205.

105. Andreas Vesalius, On the Fabric of the Human Body; a Translation of De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Spetem, William Frank Richardson and John Burd Carman (trans. and ed.) (San Francisco: Norman Pub., 1998–2009), v. 165.

106. Varolio, Anatomiae, op. cit. (note 95), 4.

107. André Du Laurens, Historia Anatomica Humani Corporis Singularum eius Partium Multis Controuersiis & Obseruationibus Nouis Illustrata (Paris, 1600), 534.

108. Nicolaus Steno, A Dissertation on the Anatomy of the Brain: Read in the Assembly Held in M. Thevenot’s House in the Year 1665, G. Douglas (trans.) (Copenhagen: Busck, 1950 [1669]), 9, 49.

109. Mordechai Feingold, ‘Science as a Calling? The Early Modern Dillemma’ Science in Context 15, 1 (2002), 79–119, he describes Willis’s case on 105.

110. Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici (London, 1642), 1, though as noted by R.H. Robbins in his entry in the ODNB, many of Browne’s positions in the unauthorised 1642 edition were amended to be less controversial in the 1643 edition.

111. Robert Boyle, The Excellency of Theology, Compar’d with Natural Philosophy (London, 1674), sigs. A6 r-v.

112. John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education: and Of the Conduct of the Understanding, Ruth W. Grant and Nathan Tarcov (eds) (Indiannapolis: Hackett Pub. Co., 1996), 199, § 34.

113. Willis, Soul of Brutes, op. cit. (note 5), A4r.

114. René Descartes, The World and Other Writings, Stephen Gaukroger (trans.) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 143–5.

115. Descartes, The World, 147–8.

116. Willis, Anatomy of the Brain, op. cit. (note 5), 52–7.

117. Nicolas Malebranche, The Search After Truth, Thomas M. Lennon and Paul J. Olscamp (trans.) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 89.

118. Steno, Anatomy of the Brain, op. cit. (note 108), 12–5, 17.

119. Jon Parkin, ‘Parker, Samuel (1640–88)’, ODNB.

120. Samuel Parker, Tentamina Physico-Theologica de Deo: sive Theologica Scholastica ad Normam Novae & Reformatae Philosophiae Concinnata (London, 1665), 79–98, particularly 83–4. The best discussion of Parker’s Physico-Theologica is Dmitri Levitin, ‘Rethinking English Phyisco-theology: Samuel Parker’s Tentamina de Deo (1665)’, Early Science and Medicine, 19 (2014), 28–75.

121. Samuel Parker, A Free and Impartial Censure of the Platonick Philosophie being a Letter Written to his Much Honoured Friend Mr Nath. Bisbie (London, 1667), 25–7; John Henry, ‘A Cambridge Platonist’s Materialism: Henry More and the Concept of Soul’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 49 (1986), 172–95.

122. Sarah Hutton, ‘Iconisms, enthusiasm and origen: Henry More reads the bible’, in Ariel Hessayon and Nicholas Keene (eds), Scripture and Scholarship in Early Modern England (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), 192–207. Robert Crocker, Henry More, 1614–87: A Biography of the Cambridge Platonist (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003), 93–106.

123. Henry More, Enthusiasmus Triumphatus, or, A Discourse of the Nature, Causes, Kinds, and Cure, of Enthusiasme (London, 1656), 55.

124. For a discussion of how More’s opponent in Thomas Vaughan had exploited this tension in his writing, see Robert Crocker, ‘Mysticism and enthusiasm in Henry More’, in Sarah Hutton (ed.), Henry More (1614–87) Tercentenary Studies (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1990), 137–56. Crocker, Henry More, 45–61.

125. Parker, Censure, 190.

126. Parker, Censure, op. cit. (note 121), 194–5.

127. Willis, Soul of Brutes, op. cit. (note 5), 4.

128. Knoeff points out the uniqueness of Willis’s description of this nerve in op. cit. (note 34), 415.

I would like to recognise the valuable support I received from the Wellcome Trust, which awarded me a grant that allowed me to travel to the UK in the winter of 2012. I am grateful for the invitation to present this work to the Political Thought and Intellectual History seminar at Cambridge University in May 2013. It is a pleasure to thank Scott Mandelbrote, David Sacks, John Robertson, and Harold Cook, who read (with great patience) earlier versions of this work when it was incorporated into my doctoral dissertation. Special thanks are due to Kathryn Tabb, who read and commented on a version of this article and encouraged me to clarify my argument in various ways, and especially to Richard Serjeantson, who read multiple versions of this piece with great care. I am also grateful for the helpful guidance and comments of the two anonymous referees who read and commented on this article, and to the editors of this journal.


Thomas Willis, the Restoration and the First Works of Neurology

  • Louis Caron (a1)


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