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Christopher E. Lonegan, IDSVAFollow





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The role of visual art in anatomical illustration answers a particular need for “descriptive” images to serve definite clinical and instructional applications. Beyond this clinical, pedagogical, and pragmatic need, I argue, the function of the visual arts in anatomical illustration is to represent of the human “spirit,” a concept beyond the descriptive capacities of anatomical science. By the term “spirit,” I mean the dialectical and ethical aspects of human Being, synthesized into a hybrid of the medical-material and the ethical-spiritual body through the “style” of artistic representations. Conceived in terms of nature and culture, science and art, the body in anatomical illustrations requires the work of the artist to be fully visible. The artist thematizes and concretizes our bodies as ethical and material entities, representing the “science of the body” as an awakening and recollection of the ethical chord between self and other.

In this dissertation, I argue that the body presented by anatomy is a culturally determined ideological construct, and not the embodiment of a disinterested, objective and universally scientific truth. Variations in the appearance of the body within anatomical science are due as much to changes in aesthetic and ethical contexts, the conceptions of human spirit abroad in a given period, as they are to “advances” in medical knowledge.

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Anatomy | Art Practice | Arts and Humanities | Philosophy


Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts


Portland, Maine

The Anatomy of Spirit: Art, Philosophy, and Anatomical Illustration



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