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Gaceta médica de México

versión impresa ISSN 0016-3813


DE MICHELI, Alfredo. William Harvey and the beginnings of modern medical science. Gac. Méd. Méx [online]. 2005, vol.141, n.3, pp.233-237. ISSN 0016-3813.

Modern medical science was born in the post Renaissance age and began to consolidate towards the middle of the XVII century thanks to physicists, physiologists, and biologists, most of whom were direct or indirect pupils, of Galilei. The discovery of blood circulation by Harvey is now considered the only progress in physiology at the beginning of the XVII century, comparable to the current advances seen in physical sciences. The history of this achievement could be written from the view point of the progressive advance in knowledge. In his experiments, Harvey referred to the authentic, not the imaginary experiments, and put forward irrefutable quantitative arguments. We can therefore claim that his discovery of blood circulation was the first proper explanation of an organic process and the starting point leading to experimental physiology. Nevertheless, the second monograph of the english researcher, dealing with the generation of animals, published in 1651, has some passages that correspond to modern scientific reasoning yet in others he includes confused, vague and capricious assertions compatible with the prescientific era that the author was not able to escape completely. In conclusion, it seems justified to assert that modern medical science did not all rise suddenly, but was gradually structured starting from the middle of the XVII century following the path traced by William Harvey in light of Galilei's thought.

Palabras llave : Prescientific era; modern medical science; Galilei; Harvey; Bacon; Galilean method.

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