Saturday, April 9, 2016

After Harvey

The crumbling of the credibility of Galen's system after Harvey arguments for the circulation of blood in 1628 marks a paradigm shift in the true meaning of the term. What I find exciting is the struggle to create a new paradigm, which, as I see it, wasn't established until the early nineteenth century. The work of Lower, Hooke and Malpighi on the structure and function of the lungs could not have been imagined before Harvey. After Harvey new ideas about the nature of disease had to be found to replace Galen's humoralism. Rationalist modes of thought in the form of iatro-chemical and iatromechanical  systems competed for over a century. They probably worked as well as Galen's system in providing doctors with a way to talk to each other and explain sickness to patients. Perhaps the iatromechanical system offered researchers fruitful hypotheses.

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