The mechanical philosophy of the seventeenth century is not normally associated with medicine. To be sure, some mechanical philosophers developed mechanistic accounts of animal physiology, most famously Descartes in De homine (1662, see Descartes 1998) and later Borelli’s De motu animalium (1680-1681). And certain specifi c physiological structures came in for close analysis by mechanical philosophers and physicians alike. Here again one thinks in the fi rst instance of the thirty-year debate over the Cartesian theory of the motion of the heart and its fi nal resolution in 1669 in the work of the physiologist John Mayow.1 But mechanistic physiology did not have much discernible infl uence on curative medicine, that is, on the theory and practice of physic.