deconstruction of anatomy

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Reply Wed 20 Jan, 2010 10:05 pm
Hi All,

I have an interest in doing a review on the history of anatomy, specifically to look at how some if the ideas in dissection and naming muscles has evolved. My interest in this regard stems from the problems that are occurring in the evolving field of functional anatomy. There has been significant difficulty in describing moving and loading tolerances etc through the common isolated muscle approach. I do not have a background in philosophy, but have gained a recent interest and was wandering if such an analysis could be done using the ideas of Derrida's deconstructive approach. Any ideas in this regard would be much appreciated.

Kind regards,

Phillip
 
Deckard
 
Reply Thu 21 Jan, 2010 01:00 am
@phillip30,
phillip30;121447 wrote:
Hi All,

I have an interest in doing a review on the history of anatomy, specifically to look at how some if the ideas in dissection and naming muscles has evolved. My interest in this regard stems from the problems that are occurring in the evolving field of functional anatomy. There has been significant difficulty in describing moving and loading tolerances etc through the common isolated muscle approach. I do not have a background in philosophy, but have gained a recent interest and was wandering if such an analysis could be done using the ideas of Derrida's deconstructive approach. Any ideas in this regard would be much appreciated.

Kind regards,

Phillip


Usually, or originally, deconstruction is an approach to a text. This could easily include a medical text.

It is tempting to make some sweeping analogy between the deconstruction of a text and the dissection of a body. This analogy sounds like fun but it is probably more trouble than its worth.

Derrida is often classed with the post-structuralists and I think the above mentioned analogy is more friendly to the structuralist approach. But what is structuralism and post-structuralism?

Structuralism is usually a term used to refer to the "human sciences" (oddly human anatomy is not one of the human sciences). Structuralism began with anthropology and linguistics. Saussure saw language as a system of interrelated parts. Then Levi-Strauss, following Saussure, applied a similar approach to the mythologies and cultural traditions of primitive peoples.

In some ways structuralism is an analogy drawn from physical systems like the solar system or the circulatory system into realms of the "human sciences". So why not draw those analogies right back to the physical systems. Could the human body, with its many different interrelated parts be thought of as a language? I like this analogy if we are talking about a language as described by structuralist Saussure but not so much if we are talking about a language as described by post-structuralist Derrida.

Both structuralism and post-structuralism focus more on meaning than on anything else. Semiology or semiotics is central and the sign is the fundamental unit, Peirce and Saussure are the founding fathers. (As opposed to the physical sciences which has physics as central...maybe still the atom as the fundamental unit and Newton, Maxwell, Einstein et al as founding fathers.)

Anatomy is concerned more concerned with function than with meaning. But that's ok because structuralists see meaning as functioning within a larger structure. Post-structuralists abandoned this approach believing that meaning is too amorphous and unstable, influenced by too many external forces, Power/knowledge, difference etc. etc. I don't know...

Bertalanffy and General Systems Theory came to mind when I first read the original post. He's a fairly popular name in the theoretical side of medicine or used to be. I think that will be a better direction than trying to make sense of Derrida.
 
phillip30
 
Reply Thu 21 Jan, 2010 04:20 pm
@Deckard,
Hi Deckard,

Thanks for response, clearly you have a better grasp on these ideas than myself. You wrote:

In some ways structuralism is an analogy drawn from physical systems like the solar system or the circulatory system into realms of the "human sciences". So why not draw those analogies right back to the physical systems. Could the human body, with its many different interrelated parts be thought of as a language? I like this analogy if we are talking about a language as described by structuralist Saussure but not so much if we are talking about a language as described by post-structuralist Derrida.

this sounds like an idea pursuing, are you able to provide some recommended readings? you also wrote:

Bertalanffy and General Systems Theory came to mind when I first read the original post. He's a fairly popular name in the theoretical side of medicine or used to be. I think that will be a better direction than trying to make sense of Derrida.

Yes, I have often seen him reference and read a biography but never any original work, which may be worth pursuing.

Kind regards,

Phillip
 
Deckard
 
Reply Fri 22 Jan, 2010 12:38 am
@phillip30,
phillip30;121674 wrote:


this sounds like an idea pursuing, are you able to provide some recommended readings?
...
Yes, I have often seen him reference and read a biography but never any original work, which may be worth pursuing.


I'm still working on this stuff myself. Stanford online Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a great resource and several steps up from wikipedia. I've read a little of Bertalanffy's "General System Theory: Foundations, Development, Applications" (1968). Yes 1968 but in this case it's worth going back to the source. It has a little math here and there including differential equations but its not overwhelming.

Can you say a little more about the following:
phillip30;121447 wrote:

There has been significant difficulty in describing moving and loading tolerances etc through the common isolated muscle approach.


I have only a vague idea of what you are saying here. Can you say a little more. I think it's an interesting example plus this post needs an anchor or it will drift off into generalities.
 
phillip30
 
Reply Fri 22 Jan, 2010 01:36 am
@Deckard,
Hi Deckard,

you wrote:

[QUOTE=Deckard;121727]I'm still working on this stuff myself. Stanford online Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a great resource and several steps up from wikipedia. I've read a little of Bertalanffy's "General System Theory: Foundations, Development, Applications" (1968). Yes 1968 but in this case it's worth going back to the source. It has a little math here and there [/QUOTE]
Deckard;121727 wrote:

including differential equations but its not overwhelming.

cheers will follow this up

Can you say a little more about the following:

There has been significant difficulty in describing moving and loading tolerances etc through the common isolated muscle approach.

I have only a vague idea of what you are saying here. Can you say a little more. I think it's an interesting example plus this post needs an anchor or it will drift off into generalities.


Assessments of tissues tolerance in terms of loading have been way off the mark. For example the spine has been calculated to only tolerate a 60 kg deadlift, yet the world record is in excess of 450kg, this is not a small discrepancy. In regard to movement there are many ideas and they are often conflicting, for example there are at least three different ideas of the optimal functioning of the lumbar spine. These included the spinal engine theory, inner and outer unit, and bracing. All of which are conflicting but have evidence to support there use.

Cheers

Phillip
 
Deckard
 
Reply Fri 22 Jan, 2010 02:38 am
@phillip30,
phillip30;121737 wrote:
Assessments of tissues tolerance in terms of loading have been way off the mark. For example the spine has been calculated to only tolerate a 60 kg deadlift, yet the world record is in excess of 450kg, this is not a small discrepancy. In regard to movement there are many ideas and they are often conflicting, for example there are at least three different ideas of the optimal functioning of the lumbar spine. These included the spinal engine theory, inner and outer unit, and bracing. All of which are conflicting but have evidence to support there use.


Well clearly the spine does not perform the dead lift all by itself and there are other variables or else there are a few extreme outlying individuals that have supper strong spines which is silly so I vote for the former.

These type of questions will have answers when adequate mathematical models have been developed that fit the data. I think you'll find the right mindset in Bertalanffy and maybe some inspiration but you won't find the final equations there.

Perhaps philosophy can help by shaking one out of ones preconceptions but in the end I think it comes down to finding that mathematical model and philosophy can offer no royal road to that model.

Systems get very complex very quickly the more variables are added. For one famous example it is easy enough to calculate the gravitational relationship and movement of two objects but add a third object and the problem becomes exceedingly difficult. The human body is easily more complex.
 
phillip30
 
Reply Fri 22 Jan, 2010 02:58 pm
@Deckard,
thanks for the reply, you wrote:

Deckard;121739 wrote:
Well clearly the spine does not perform the dead lift all by itself and there are other variables or else there are a few extreme outlying individuals that have supper strong spines which is silly so I vote for the former.

Sorry, I meant the spine and related tissues. Essentially we are way off the mark in predicting the breaking point load wise.


These type of questions will have answers when adequate mathematical models have been developed that fit the data. I think you'll find the right mindset in Bertalanffy and maybe some inspiration but you won't find the final equations there.

interestlingly many of the functional anatomy models have not used a mathematical foundation, but have looked at different ways the parts of the system relate, examples include the anatomy trains, contractile feilds, and inner and outter unit. These all use different metaphor as a starting point as well.



Perhaps philosophy can help by shaking one out of ones preconceptions but in the end I think it comes down to finding that mathematical model and philosophy can offer no royal road to that model.

Systems get very complex very quickly the more variables are added. For one famous example it is easy enough to calculate the gravitational relationship and movement of two objects but add a third object and the problem becomes exceedingly difficult. The human body is easily more complex.


the other problem in regard to anatomy is that the relationships change depending on whether you are using compartive anatomy, or anatomy based on dissection, or embrology etc. This in part explains many of the coflicting models that currently exsist and creates problems in comparing, as they all have an 'evidence base' to support their postion.

Cheers

Phillip
 
 

 
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