An element of thought: phosphorus and mental philosophy in the nineteenth century

J Hist Neurosci. 1998 Aug;7(2):108-24. doi: 10.1076/jhin.


Georges Cabanis (1757-1808), through his writings on the relation of the physical and moral, or psychological, aspects of man, left a legacy that made the study of mental activity a part of physiology. His views on the importance of phosphorus to the function of the brain thrust that element into a prominent stream of research that involved many investigators in several countries. Although that particular stream eventually dried up, its influence remained: by the beginning of the twentieth century basic medical science had become well set on studies of the mind-body relationship.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Brain*
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • Humans
  • Philosophy, Medical / history*
  • Phosphorus / history*
  • Physiology / history*
  • Psychology / history*
  • Psychosomatic Medicine / history*


  • Phosphorus

Personal name as subject

  • G Cabanis