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Lecture 6

HIST 249 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Andreas Vesalius, Novum Organum, Robert Fludd

5 pages62 viewsFall 2013

Course Code
HIST 249
Faith Wallis

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Week 6 – Lecture 1
History 249 - Health and Healer in the Western World
Medicine and the Scientific Revolution
Does medicine also have a scientific revolution?
-yes and no medicine is not just understanding truths in the natural world but it is also about taking care of people craft
as well as an enterprise
* Why this is a scientific ‘revolution’
-DEVELOPMENTS rational argument for the Plague was that a conjunction between the planets that circled around the
Earth thus forcing change = pestilence occurred
oEarth at the centre surrounded by planets which were moving  motion is change – geocentric
o1543 – Copernicus: ‘On the Revolution of the Heavenly Bodies’ = heliocentric
BUT- he was not the first person to present this idea; he didn’t prove it but hypothesised it = not until
about 50 years later when the accumulation of other types of data e.g. with telescopes, when evidence
for heliocentricism became overwhelming
oDiscoveries thus develop slowly NOT overnight
= thus instead of thinking of specific discoveries that changed the view of the world, but instead the social and cultural impact 
during this period science becomes a defining feature of European civilisation = to prove something scientifically is to virtually
say that it is true = this starts to occur during the SRev
-this happens because of key players who believed that this was a good idea willing to accept the discoveries and the
implication of them regarding the world view and their view of the human condition
ooften harmonised with their own interests e.g. monarchs wanted support for absolutism etc.
= Sci Rev goes far deeper than just discoveries
* Ancient times = pondering the world, just thinking about it e.g. what really lies behind it The purpose of nature and God
-conceptual framework was fundamentally qualitative  basic template for thinking of the world was in terms of qualities
that had latitudes e.g. wet and dry
-method for ‘doing’ science = logical inference and deduction potentially backed up by ordinary, everyday experience e.g.
the dissections in medieval university  intellectual model presented by Galen and the dissection is to confirm this, not
reconsider Galen’s knowledge
*New Science = not about contemplating the world, but a more direct and engaged approach
-idea not of purpose but more interest in how it goes together pushing aside of the purpose becomes key to scientific
oconceptual development moves towards more mechanical and mathematical concepts – Galileo QUOTE = only
what is true is what can be measured mathematically  beginning to see a real push against the idea that physics
let alone physiology can be explained in qualitative terms
new methods – much less wedded to the idea of logical inference, and more towards experimentation =
deliberately testing out – even new – ideas that may not have been tried by the ancients
doesn’t happen overnight or in a flash = general trend towards this
* Scientific Revolution basics:
-Paradigms are shifting European view of the world is being really rather shook up – period of confusion, fragmentation
and instability
-authority is beginning to be displacd by experience – Vesalius: instead of returning to the authorities, experience is used
as a way to advance beyond the ancients
-authority will be challenged by pure reason  e.g. Descartes’ mathematical thinking  do we need the ancients? – people
can think of new solutions
-new attitude towards experimentation and experiments  often instruments that expand the human senses like telescopes
and microscopes
*Paradigms Shifting
-Heleocentricism – shoots the notion of celestial influence out of the water since there is no basis for this any longer
*Authority vs. Experience – Paracelsus 1493-1541
-Name itself means ‘beyond Celsus’ whom was one of the ancients
-Influenced by the protestant reformation that aims to return Christianity to the biblical roots  also wants to return
medicine to it’s divine roots
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oRejects Galen because he was pagan  how can one understand nature if one doesn’t see the creator?  doctor is
a Christian magician (magus) who by criticism and experiemtnation, one can see the powers which the Creator
puts into plants and minerals
Suggested that minerals could be used for therapy e.g. with syphilis  mercury was used since it makes
one salivate  a way for one to expel the poison of syphilis within
-Follow nature without listening to the ancients  listen to the common people whom are in close contact with nature
-Think of the body as an alchemical process of transformation  alchemy as the ancestory of modern chemistry = medieval
science of purifying base metals to make gold
oCan chemical processes accelerate the process that nature uses to make gold?!
oThe body was thus an alchemical process that created substances like pure blood
Disease inhibited this process = minerals etc. could treat these
-Also suggested that diseases were not communicated by poisoned air but by ‘seeds of disease’ – this was an idea that
Hippocrates had wanted to squash since it had the potential to be viewed as witchcraft that could be sent by someone else
-Paracelsus = somewhat laughed at BUT others were very enthusiastic about his theories and Paracelsian doctors were
really rather popular amongst royal courts due to monarchical interest in alchemy for gold
oP has quite the impact on medicine  authority is gone, experience is key
Also Francis Bacon – public intellectual
-creates a programme for a new science esp. in the Advancement of Learnng and the Novum Organum
ointended to replace dependence on the authority of the ancients  we should assemble an inventory of facts about
the world = part of the second generation of those whom are familiar with travel to the New World and the East
Indies that showed the necessity of discovery
observation and natural histories would provide facts = this would be the basis of a new science
new science also has a new purpose = not to allow us to contemplate god or nature, but instead to give
us power over the world  e.g. power to cure disease = empirical and utilitarian approach to science
‘knowledge is power
*Authority vs. Reason
-Descartes  authority is useless, truth comes from abstract cogitation  scepticism is necessary to establish truth
oOne returns at certainty through deduction  because he had the ability to think, one existed
Not very interested in fact finding, but instead elaborating distinct theorised ideas that would be the
basis for rational science
Very impressed by Copernicus by literally taking the soul out of the heavens  demonstrated
that motions of the heavens could be determined mathematically
Similarly – one does not need to postulate the soul in the body  deanimated the body  body was
material, soul is not: the body is a set of biological processes which could be described mathematically
and mechanically; soul is the animation and thus separate  the spirit attached to the body by the pineal
The soul = the thing that thinks is very separate from the body which doesn’t think  simply
meat that gets moved by purely mechanical means
-In comparison to Galen’s ideas in which each of the 3 organs have an intelligence to them
oLimbs of the body attract blood due to an appetite = notion that the body has intentions and works with things
like appetite are strange to Descartes
Descartes = not a great experiment but deconstructs the ancients by unfettered reason…
*Instruments and Experiments
-Bacon = nature is God’s secrets which science strips bare  instruments were weapons or tools by which human senses
could be extended to places which they had never been before
oBoundaries of experience and experiment are extended by instruments
*Did medicine have a scientitic revolution? Were doctors scientific revolutionaries?
-Well  medicine did not really have a revolution until the 19thC  Galenism was really very elastic and provided methods
for taking care of their patients and thus therapeutics for patients could not just be thrown out
oHarvey himself – very conservative, polemically and religiously  would not have considered himself
-How was Harvey revolutionary then?
oGalen’s heart: blood only goes from the centre of the body outwards; venous blood is made from food in the
liver, stored in the veins = no idea that blood moved through the veins with any kind of propulsion  known that
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