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Själens skakningar: Livskraft, kropp och känslor i C.W. Hufelands Konsten at lefwa länge
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
2018 (Swedish)Independent thesis Basic level (university diploma), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Agitations of the mind : The vital power , body and emotions in C.W. Hufeland´s Art of prolonging life (English)
Abstract [en]

This essay will examine the Swedish edition of the German treatise, Makrobitoik oder die Kunst das Leben zu verlängern (1796), which was published in Sweden in 1798. The treatise became immensely popular throughout Europe after it was published and its author, C. W. Hufeland became known for his macrobiotic; that is the art of prolonging one’s lifespan.

The Swedish edition, Konsten at lefwa länge, will be examined from a medical history per-spective with the intention to analyze the connections between vitalism, emotions and the body. The analysis is primarily an exploration into the depiction of emotions, their connec-tions to the body and to medicine but will also analyze the treatise’s vitalist theory. The essay will also examine the portrayed difference between the sexes. The aim of the analysis is to further the knowledge of the history of the body, medicine and of emotions from an eight-eenth century scientific viewpoint.

The analysis establishes the importance of the vitalist theory for the treatise’s view on the body and on emotions. The body was largely controlled and in symbiosis with a lifeforce that originated from nature itself. It was very important to properly manage the lifeforce and doing so also meant controlling the emotions. An emotional outburst was believed very dangerous and especially feelings of melancholia, hypochondria and envy could seriously affect one’s health. Possible outcomes of these unhealthy emotions were the drainage of the body’s lifeforce which then affected other functions, such as the digestion, the cardiac cycle and the nervous system. This could ultimately result in the body’s decay and finally death.

It is also established that women were more likely than men to suffer the dangers of emo-tions. Since their lifeforces and bodies were frailer they were also more prone to suffer from hypochondria and emotional affliction. The treatise also explains that the male lifeforce was in some ways preferable to the female lifeforce which made men more durable.

Though just like some emotions were deemed unhealthy and dangerous there were also emotions that were vital to a long life. Love, happiness and tranquility for instance were im-portant components for the body’s health though self-control and a rational use of one’s emo-tions were deemed most important.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 32
National Category
History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-149233OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-149233DiVA, id: diva2:1220088
Subject / course
History
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Available from: 2018-06-19 Created: 2018-06-18 Last updated: 2018-06-19Bibliographically approved

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