Lectures on the History of Physiology during the Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

    Abstract

    THE history of the development of medicine has been told many times, but rarely can we gather from these accounts a clear history of the two subjects, anatomy and physiology, on which the whole structure of the art of healing is built. The late Sir Michael Foster's book consists of the “Lane Lectures” delivered at the Cooper Medical College in San Francisco in the year 1900, and gives a detailed narrative of the progress of physiology in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. In one important detail it differs from many books of its type; it is the history of the science, not merely of the lives of scientific workers. Yet there is included much about the personal histories of the pioneers of physiology which stimulates additional interest in the fruits of their labours. The author sees in the efforts of Vesalius against the blind dogma of the Middle Ages the foundations of modern physiology and modern anatomy; Harvey's great work he regards as the direct outcome of those efforts. The influence of advancing knowledge of physics and chemistry is demonstrated in the ideas of Borelli, Paracelsus, and Franciscus Sylvius. In Mayow's realisation of the functions of what is now called oxygen there is an illustration of how a great scientific discovery may be completely ignored in its time and find recognition after more than a century.

    Lectures on the History of Physiology during the Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.

    By Sir Michael Foster. Second impression. Pp. vii + 306. (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1924.) 15s. net.

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    Lectures on the History of Physiology during the Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries . Nature 115, 45 (1925) doi:10.1038/115045b0

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