Cornhill Magazine,  3 (1861), 332–41.


[James Hinton]




Health, Physiological Psychology, Physiology, Organicism, Anatomy, Force, Physiological Chemistry, Engineering, Vitalism

People mentioned:

Michael Faraday

    Because the 'conditions of modern life' increasingly 'interfere with the conditions necessary to health', it is important that 'the principles of health' are widely known (333). Firstly, although not 'going so far as the physician who maintained that a man's theological opinions depended on the state of his liver', Hinton insists that, as 'our feelings vary with our bodily condition', happiness is an important component of health (332). Secondly, he defines health as a condition in which the 'body is in harmony with the ceaseless activities of nature [...] in ceaseless adaptation to all the infinite variety of nature—ever the same, yet ever new' (333). Unravelling this 'close-woven web of life', Hinton shows how the animal body is 'a machine' which will constantly 'employ forces from without' even while 'we seem to act by the mere exertion of our will'. As such, the 'laws of health [...] are simply the laws of nature' and are subject 'to the same conditions which pervade the rest of the world'. (334) The animal body is 'essentially a state of action—of chemical change—in particles of matter' (339), and our health therefore depends upon maintaining the series of 'chemical changes on which the activity of the body depends' (335). This can best be done simply by providing a ready supply of the materials necessary for chemical changes, such as the union of particles of matter with oxygen. These are principally organic food and a continuous supply of clean air. From the perspective of the body's ceaseless chemical change, life can be characterized accurately as 'a flame' in a continual 'state of burning' (337).


Hinton 1871

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