Life consists in the sum of the functions, by
which death is resisted
The measure, then, of life in general, is the
difference which exists between the effort of exterior
power, and that of interior resistance.
– What is meant by saying life is resisting death?
As Newton ascribed basic 'properties' (for example
gravitation) to the physical matter of the cosmos,
physicians should ascribe 'properties' to the
physiological matter of life. But vital properties should
be clearly distinguished from physical ones. Let us
leave to chemistry its affinity, to physics its elasticity
and gravity, and let us employ in physiology only
Bichat Allows Mechanistic
Decomposition Down to
Chemistry has its simple bodies, which
form, by the combinations of which they
are susceptible, the compound bodies;
such are coloric, light, hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, azote
[nitrogen], phosphorus, &c.
In the same way anatomy
has its simple textures, which, by their combinations four
with four, six with six, eight with eight, &c., make the
These textures are, 1
. the cellular; 2d. the
nervous of animal life; 3d. the nervous of organic life; 4
the arterial . . . These are the true organized elements of
Their nature is constantly the same,
everywhere they are met with.
Bichat: Tissues as Source
of Vital Properties
Shall I speak of the vital properties?
See the animal
sensibility predominant in the nerves, contractility of the
same kind particularly marked in the voluntary muscles,
sensible organic contractility, forming the peculiar
property of the involuntary, insensible contractility and
sensibility of the same nature, which is not separated
from it more than from the preceding, charactering