The Cybernard Project

Claude Bernard (1813 - 1878) was one of the most eminent 19th century physiologists. He was a pioneer in many respects. He introduced the concept of internal environment (the Milieu intérieur) (cf. Grmek 1997), which corresponds to today's principle of homeostasis. He investigated and enlightened many physiological mechanisms, e.g. the glycogenic liver function [cf. (Prochiantz 1990)], effects of carbon monoxide, [cf. (Bernard 1864) and (Grmek7 1973)], effects of curare [cf. (Bernard 1857) and (Bernard 1864)], etc. But, Claude Bernard was not only a great physiologist; he was also a theoretician who generalized his experimental method in his famous book, Experimental Medicine (Bernard 1927), which is nowadays a classic that all young students in medicine are supposed to have read.

However, there is debate in the epistemology community about the importance of the book. Some think that Claude Bernard revolutionized the physiology while others consider that he is only a great physician who successfully tried to vulgarize his scientific works. In a way, the structure of the book makes this debate possible since the first part exposes abstract principles on which relies a general experimental method, while the second exemplifies the application of the method on discoveries that are mainly derived from Claude Bernard's own work. Therefore, it could be possible to interpret the experimental method as an introduction to the description of Claude Bernard's personal scientific contribution. On the other hand, some philosophers think that the "Experimental Medicine" (Bernard 1927) played the same role for the 19th and 20th century physiology that the Descartes "Discourse on Method" for the 17th century physical sciences. In modern terms, it originated a "change of paradigm" in experimental medicine. Even if the knowledge of physiological mechanisms is far more detailed today than it was at the Claude Bernard's time and if the statistical techniques make the analysis of experimental data more rigorous, the principles on which relies the methodology of clinical experimentations are based on the same theoretical foundations. It is the argument of those who promote the "Experimental Medicine" as a key contribution for the modern medicine.


  1. Grmek, M.: Le legs de Claude Bernard. Fayard (1997)
  2. Prochiantz, A.: Claude Bernard: la révolution physiologique. Presses Universitaires de France, Paris (1990)
  3. Bernard, C.: Etudes physiologiques sur quelques poisons américains. Revue des deux mondes 53 (1864) 164–190

  4. Grmek, M.: Raisonnement exp´erimental et recherches toxicologiques chez Claude Bernard. Droz, Genève (1973)

  5. Bernard, C.: Leçon sur les effets des substances toxiques et médicamenteuses. Cours de médecine du collège de France. J.-B. Baillière et Fils, Paris (1857)

  6. Bernard, C.: An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine. Macmillan & Co., Ltd. (1927) First English translation by Henry Copley Greene.

  7. Habib B. and Ganascia J.-G.: The Reasoning Process underlying Claude Bernard’s Scientific Discoveries. In the proceedings of the IJCAI-09 Workshop on Abductive & Inductive Knowledge Development (AIAI09) of the 21st International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 2009). Pasadena, California, USA, (2009) fichier pdf.

  8. Ganascia J.-G., A Reconstruction of Some of Claude Bernard’s Scientific Steps; AAAI fall symposium on Scientific Discovery, 6-8 November 2008, fichier pdf

  9. Habib B., Ganascia J.-G., Using AI to Reconstruct Claude Bernard's Empirical Investigations, International Conference on Artificial Intelligence - ICAI'08, (July 2008), in the proceedings fichier pdf.

  10. Ganascia J.-G., In silico' Experiments : Towards a Computerized Epistemology, in Newsletter on Philosophy and Computers, Piotr Boltuc (ed), American Philosophical Association Newsletters, 07 (2), 11-15, Spr. 2008, ISSN 1067-9464 paper

  11. Ganascia, J.-G., Habib, B., An Attempt to Rebuild C. Bernard's Scientific Steps. Discovery Science conference, Sendai, Japan, October 2007, in proceedings pp. 248-252 fichier pdf

  12. Ganascia, J.-G., Debru, C.: CYBERNARD: A Computational Reconstruction of Claude Bernard's Scientific Discoveries, Model-Based Reasoning in Science, Technology, and Medicine, vol. 64, Li, Ping, pp. 497-510, Springer Verlag Ed. (ISBN : 978-3-540-71985-4) (2007) (fichier pdf)



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Cybernard_Project (last edited 2012-12-01 10:59:06 by GustaveGanascia)