MECHANISMS OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS IN MEDICINE OF THE XVIIITH CENTURY

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Transliteration of original Title: 
Mekhanizmy nauchnykh revolyuciy v medicine XVIII v.
Author(s): 
Andrey Stochik
Scientific Research Institute of the History of Medicine, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences
Sergey Zatravkin
Institute of the History of Medicine, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences
Issue number: 
No. 1 (Vol. 39)
Pages: 
173-190
Abstract: 

The article presents the results of the studies based on the application of the concept of the structure and dynamics of scientific knowledge developed by V. S. Stepin to the analysis of the history of the 17th-century medicine. The scientific revolution in the 18th-century medicine was of a locally-disciplinary nature and involved changing the picture of reality. Its mechanism was  the negotiation of the intradisciplinary crisis which prevailed in the medicine of the 90s of the XVIIth century and  associated with the realization of the impossibility to explain all life processes of a healthy and diseased human body solely on the basis of Cartesian notions of "collisions" of particles devoid of any specific property.

The recovery was found by supplementing the Cartesian picture of reality with the ideas of the existence of "internal living forces" specific to the human organism. With regard to natural bodies in general these ideas were introduced in the European science of modern times by Leibniz and Newton. The introduction of the ideas of dynamism in medicine is associated mainly with the activity of A. Pitcairne, F. Hoffmann, E. Stahl, G. Baglivi, H. Boerhaave and A. Haller who presented experimental evidence of the existence of powers inherent only in living organisms.

In the second half of the 18th century there appeared and became widespread new medical teachings (Th.Bordeu, P.Barthez, Ch. Hufeland, F.Medicus, J.Brown, J.Blumenbach, A.Mesmer) that determined the vital functions of a human body in its healthy and sick condition as a result of the cumulative effects of various forces. The recognition of the ideas of dynamism by the majority of the medical community led to a fundamental revision of ideas about the disease, the emergence of new approaches to the study, the diagnosis, the treatment and prevention of human diseases and marked in medicine the final approval of a new picture of reality, which cannot be reduced to a mechanical one.

Keywords: 
scientific revolution, the picture of reality, medicine, Descartes, Leibniz, Newton, Stahl, Haller
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