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More than a Fading Flame. The Physiology of Old Age between Speculative Analogy and Experimental Method

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Chapter Summary

Ancient and early modern notions of ageing posit several reasons for its cause. Along with common intrinsic factors-steady loss of inner warmth and moisture, insufficient digestion, extrinsic causes are also taken into account: excessive or insufficient cooling through the surrounding air, and incorrect diet. Most of these concepts drew their analogies from nature: withering leaves and the metaphor of the fading lamp or flame, which has been the focus of numerous studies. These analogies are the most important ones used in the field of physiology of old age and ageing. In no way did they replace theoretical presuppositions, which in some cases were directly derived from them, in others were only connected to them. Even in the earliest periods, physiology had advanced beyond arguments ex analogiae. This chapter illustrates this by means of a few examples, which introduce a range of concepts of the physiology of old age and ageing.

Keywords:ageing; analogy; ex analogiae; fading flame; old age; physiology



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