L. C. Triarhou Neurosciences and History 2015;3(4):154-165
Type of article: REVIEW
L. C. Triarhou Laboratory of Theoretical and Applied Neuroscience, University of Macedonia, Thessalonica, Greece.
This article juxtaposes two impressions of ‘The ingenious gentleman of La Mancha’ by Spanish histologist Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1905), one of the greatest minds in neuroanatomy, and by Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev (1860), known among neuroanatomists for having the largest brain recorded among eminent men. In a remarkable convergence, the two scholars echo parallel conceptions of the Cervantean epos as a compendium of human life. Quixote represents the pinnacle of honour and altruism, and a ‘knock’ to contemporary materialism, through his devotion to truth, beauty and virtue. Turgenev contrasts him with Hamlet: these antipodal ‘eternal human types’ constitute psychological components blending in every individual to form the personality. For Cajal, Quixotic loyalty to duty must be at the epicentre of any true science, the most laudable ambition imbued with universal love. For Turgenev, love is the only valid law, not as a simple emotion, but as the truth of existence.
Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev, Don Quixote quatercentenary, critical essay, history of neurosciences
Neurosciences and History 2015;3(4):154-165
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