Medicine 18th Century Essay

1503 words - 7 pages

By the end of the 18th century the way in which people pursued anatomical knowledge had changed substantially. How and why did this happen?

Medicine is for ever changing and new discoveries being made even today, however by the 18th century the way in which anatomical knowledge was pursued changed massively. At the centre of the argument as to why and how this happened is probably the changing place of anatomical knowledge in medical education. However, more detailed exploration in to body parts as well as the growth of new and old medical tools should not be overlooked.
Prior to the 18th century medical education was a grey area that had no real regulations with no necessary ...view middle of the document...

Furth more J. Barbot illustrates to a certain extent in his articles how the medical students learnt, for example using anatomy and chemistry. As well as how J. Barbot also expresses in Article 1 that if the students wished to enrol at the university to undertake the degree they had enrol by registering with the Faculty something that was new and almost never heard of.
Secondly from the beginning of the 18th century it became apparent that instructions in the ancillary medical arts should be accepted as an important part of the medical curriculum. With the growing number of anatomical discoveries, from the 15th century, from the likes of William Harvey it became increasingly hard for faculty professors to stop this close inspection of the human body. In the words of Roy Porter.
“The ogres of error and blind authority had already been challenged by heroes like Vesalius and William Harvey; further progress would make medicine yet more scientific.”
As well as people coming to accept the idea that medicine was scientific rather than pre-determined, something that the enlightenment had a massive influence in, there was an emphasis on proving medical knowledge with empirical knowledge. Something else they were coming round to was the idea that the past greats such as Galen may have been wrong in some of their diagnosis, could this be why anatomical knowledge started to change. Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682-1771) worked on the linking together of particular diseases with certain internal lesions in the body. In general around 80% of the population in 18th century Britain were poor, with inadequate living conditions, food shortages and the widespread of killer diseases such as small pox, typhus and dysentery the population only slowly increased. People began to demand answers and cures to these wide spread diseases. Galen’s ideas were becoming old and outdated and more and more physicians were discrediting his theories. Anatomical knowledge was at the forefront of medical breakthroughs. This was able to happen due to the expansion of universities, they began to pop up across Europe as well as the advances in equipping anatomy theatres with all the tools needed.
“It might have been the case that Vesalius gained interest in anatomy at Paris, but the Paris medical faculty made little effort to encourage the science. The faculty did not have a properly constructed anatomy theatre until 1749.”
Up until the 17th century it was difficult to examine some body parts in finer detail however with the growth of the universities and properly equipped anatomy rooms such as Brockliss expresses these experiments and dissections were able to take place, producing a whole world of new and unseen entities within the body and organs. A prime example is probably that of Marcello Malpighi definition of the glands. Malpighi used the newly invented microscope, which allowed him to dissect a piece of organ and put it on a firmer observational ground giving him a more...

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