1756 · Lausanne:
"Francis Glisson (1672) introduced the idea of irritability in the second half of the 17th century, but it was mainly in the 18th century that it found such extraordinary success in the medical sciences, particularly thanks to Albrecht von Haller, who made it the central explanatory concept of his physiology (Haller, 1751, 1756-60). The idea of irritability indicates a property that permits the different parts of the living body to react independently from the conscious mind, the central nervous system, and the whole of the organism. Vital forces, notably the capacity to respond to stimulation, are, so to speak, 'decentered,' even to the point that they become the characteristic property of the structural element of the body, the elementary fiber. Living, flexible, tensile, elastic, and above all irritable fibers are the seat and the cause of all reactions to exterior stimuli that produce expressions, emotions, and different vital phenomena. According to Haller, 'fiber for the physiologist is like the line for the geometrician,' the measure allowing the whole of sensible objects to be built." – Tom Cochrane, Bernardino Fantini, Klaus R. Scherer, The Emotional Power of Music: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Musical Arousal, Expression, and Social Control. Oxford University Press, (2013), p. 259.
"According to Tissot, Haller found irritability by getting rid of the 'rubbish of a mass of imaginary systems.' On the basis of over five hundred experiments (generally vivisections), many cited in the Dissertation on the Sensible and Irritable Parts of Animals, translated by Tissot, Haller established that muscles contract when a stimulus is applied directly to them. He also showed that a stimulus applied to a nerve does not affect the nerve itself, but produces the contraction of the muscle connected to it. Irritability was therefore attributed to muscles, sensibility to nerves." – Lorraine Daston, Fernando Vidal (eds.), The Moral Authority of Nature, University of Chicago Press, 2010, page 256.
"Haller was a pioneering figure in the early days of neurophysiological research, being not only influential for establishing animal experimentation as a viable method to gain knowledge about (human) neurological functions. He also tackled the question of sensibility as the most fundamental property of living bodies, which came to influence our conception of bodily feeling." –See Stephanie Eichberg, "Constituting the human via the animal in eighteenth century experimental neurophysiology: Albrecht von Haller's sensibility trials," in: Medizinhistorisches Journal, 44, (2009), pp. 274-295. REFERENCES: Garrison and Morton 587 [1752 first Latin ed.]; Michael J. O'dowd & Elliot E. Philipp, The History of Obstetrics and Gynecology, p. 256. Not in Heirs of Hippocrates; not in Waller. See also: Palmira Fontes Da Costa, "Albrecht von Haller and the Debate on the Existence of Human Hermaphrodites," Portuguese Journal of Philosophy, 01/2010; vol. 41, 354, 811. WorldCat: UCLA; UCB; Bakken Library; University of Wisconsin; Northwestern University, Medical Library; University of Chicago Library; University of Michigan; Oberlin College Library; Duke University Libraries; University of Rochester Medical Center; Academy of Natural Science; Cornell University Library; Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions; University of Pennsylvania Libraries; McGill University Library; Universite de Montreal; Harvard University, Countway Library; Yale University; University of Edinburgh; University of Cambridge; University of Glasgow; Wellcome Library; The British Library. (Inventory #: M13005)