Descartes (I think therefore I am) ->
Claude Bernard (homeostasis / internal stability is what makes life possible and it involves proper timing) ->
Henri Bergson (experience of duration / lived time is distinct from clock time and distinguishes what consciousness is, descriptive metaphysics) –>
Alfred North Whitehead (Process philosophy, descriptive metaphysics)
Claude Bernard and the Milieu Intérieur: Origin and Evolution of the Concept
As a medical graduate in the 1830s in Paris, Claude Bernard refused to practise medicine. He was convinced that treating the abnormally functioning body was impossible without first understanding how it functioned normally — its physiology. The first barrier to achieving that understanding was the widely held concept of vitalisme: a metaphysical phenomenon which conveniently denied the need to identify a rational physical or chemical explanation for biological processes. As a distant disciple of René Descartes, Bernard consistently searched for truth. For him, no matter how confidently they were expressed, theories alone were valueless. They represented only the first step, necessarily to be followed by hypothesis and experimental proof — a sequence which represented his experimental method. He dedicated his career to eliminating doubt: questioning previously-held concepts and theories until he could find — or better still, personally achieve — the indestructible proof of their correctness. In this way, he progressively removed the need for the vitalisme concept, even though it remained in fashion for so many decades after his death in 1878…
Thank you Timothy Fugmann for making this connection from Claude Bernard to Rene Descartes that I couldn’t have.