Medicine before Science: The Business of Medicine from the by Roger French

By Roger French

This publication is an creation to the historical past of university-trained physicians from the center a long time to the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. whereas thought of elite (in recognition and rewards) and profitable, we all know little in their scientific effectiveness. to fashionable eyes their conception and perform usually turns out strange. yet historic facts finds that they have been judged on different standards, and this publication asserts that those physicians helped to build and meet the expectancies of society.

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Extra resources for Medicine before Science: The Business of Medicine from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment

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But there was also a deeper sense in which his natural philosophy involved logic. His insistence on the purpose of nature led him to what he considered the most valid form of knowledge. We can recall that he criticised earlier philosophers for ascribing the features of natural things to the matter from which they were made. This was a very partial explanation in Aristotle’s view. Certainly, matter had irreducible characteristics which Aristotle called the ‘material cause’ of an object. But it also had shape or Form, and Aristotle systematised the position by adding to the Material and Formal cause the Efficient, generally the agent that brought it into being: a table might be made of wood, have a flat top and a number of legs, and be made by a carpenter.

That on elephants (and the amount they drink, in Macedonian measures) seems to have come from India. Aristotle’s History of Animals is a selection of these reports, written in ‘historical’ language, while the Parts of Animals presents generalisations, first principles and conclusions about causes. These books contain a famous passage in which Aristotle, having dissected many animals, praises the knowledge to be gained from the inside of animals, however disgusting these are at first sight. It is natural knowledge, worthy of a philosopher, he says, because it is more certain than that of distant things like the heavens.

Vallance, ‘Doctors in the library’, p. 104. Hippocrates and the philosophers 33 modern scholarship – and there has been a mass of it – has revealed, and it must again be emphasised here that this chapter is not a history of Greek medicine in a chronological and inclusive sense. Medieval doctors knew of Herophilus and Erasistratus by reputation only, but it was a potent one. They knew Aristotle at first partly in incomplete versions of his works that had passed through perhaps three languages. The more oracular Hippocratic writings needed constant interpretation.

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