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Medicine before Science

Medicine before Science
The Business of Medicine from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment


  • Date Published: February 2003
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521007610

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About the Authors
  • This book offers an introduction to the history of university-trained physicians from the middle ages to the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. These were the elite, in reputation and rewards, and they were successful. Yet we can form little idea of their clinical effectiveness, and to modern eyes their theory and practice often seems bizarre. But the historical evidence is that they were judged on other criteria, and the argument of this book is that these physicians helped to construct the expectations of society - and met them accordingly. The main focus is on the European Latin tradition of medicine, reconstructed from ancient sources and relying heavily on natural philosophy for its explanatory power. This philosophy collapsed in the 'scientific revolution', and left the learned and rational doctor in crisis. The book concludes with an examination of how this crisis was met - or avoided - in different parts of Europe during the Enlightenment.

    • A comprehensive overview of how medicine worked before it became 'scientific', by a well-known and experienced author
    • Covers an exceptionally long chronological period, from the ancient world to the Enlightenment period of the eighteenth century
    • Explores a large number of previously-ignored texts
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The author combines erudition with a lively style in a book that should be read by anyone wishing to understand the history of medicine.' The Scientific and Medical Network Review

    'Brilliant chapters discuss the theory of contagion after the Black Death, the impact of syphilis, and how the anatomical work of Vesalius and Harvey - together with the work of figures such as Galileo, Newton and Descartes - forced new attitudes on the profession.' British Medical Journal

    '… well-written and interesting … As the final work in a long and illustrious career, Medicine before Science plays and important role in our understanding of medieval and early modern medical beliefs and practices.' History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2003
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521007610
    • length: 296 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 153 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Sources:
    1. Hippocrates and the philosophers
    2. Galen
    Part II. The Latin Tradition:
    3. Medieval schools
    4. Scholastic medicine
    5. The weakening of the Latin tradition
    Part III. The Crisis:
    6. The crisis of theory
    7. Resolutions
    8. Enlightenment, systems and science
    Select bibliography.

  • Author

    Roger French, University of Cambridge
    Roger French is Lecturer in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Clare Hall.

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