How Electricity Energizes the Body: Electrotherapeutics and its Analogy of Life in the Japanese Medical Context

  • Akiko ItoEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 275)


Electricity is life – we are in the grip of the network of this invisible power. Appearing in many guises such as lights, the telegraph, motors, and more recently as electronics and computers, electrical technology has propelled modern life and created new cultures all over the world. Electricity is a lifeline which can never be relinquished. Before the era of electrification, however, the juxtaposition of electricity and life meant something different: electricity was literally an essence of the human body. Dating back to Luigi Galvani’s experiments which appeared to confirm the existence of ‘animal electricity’ in the last decade of the eighteenth century, electricity was linked to the mystery of life. It identified with nervous force or nervous fluid circulating throughout the body and providing vital energy necessary to maintain individual life. The notion of electricity as an essence of life widely spread in both European medical research and popular interest. Physicians, electricians, and entrepreneurs, considering the medical field as a good business venture, accelerated the application of electricity in medicine.


Eighteenth Century Western Medicine Acupuncture Point Motor Point Vital Energy 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of World Languages and International StudiesMorgan State UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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