Old-Time Makers of Medicine

Independently Published, 28 oct. 2017 - 246 pages
The material for this book was gathered partly for lectures on thehistory of medicine at Fordham University School of Medicine, and partlyfor articles on a number of subjects in the Catholic Encyclopedia. Someof it was developed for a series of addresses at commencements ofmedical schools and before medical societies, on the general topic howold the new is in surgery, medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy. Theinformation thus presented aroused so much interest, the accomplishmentsof the physicians and surgeons of a period that is usually thought quitesterile in medical science proved, indeed, so astonishing, that I wastempted to connect the details for a volume in the Fordham UniversityPress series. There is no pretence to any original investigation in thehistory of medicine, nor to any extended consultation of originaldocuments. I have had most of the great books that are mentioned in thecourse of this volume in my hands, and have given as much time to thestudy of them as could be afforded in the midst of a rather busy life,but I owe my information mainly to the distinguished German and Frenchscholars who have in recent years made deep and serious studies of theseOld Makers of Medicine, and I have made my acknowledgments to them inthe text as opportunity presented itself.There is just one feature of the book that may commend it topresent-day readers, and that is that our medieval medical colleagues,when medicine embraced most of science, faced the problems of medicineand surgery and the allied sciences that are now interesting us, in verymuch the same temper of mind as we do, and very often anticipated oursolutions of them--much oftener, indeed, than most of us, unless we havepaid special attention to history, have any idea of. The volume does notconstitute, then, a contribution to that theme that has interested thelast few generations so much,--the supposed continuous progress of therace and its marvellous advance,--but rather emphasizes that puzzlingquestion, how is it that men make important discoveries and inventions,and then, after a time, forget about them so that they have to be madeover again? This is as true in medical science and in medical practiceas in every other department of human effort. It does not seem possiblethat mankind should ever lose sight of the progress in medicine andsurgery that has been made in recent years, yet the history of the pastwould seem to indicate that, in spite of its unlikelihood, it might wellcome about. Whether this is the lesson of the book or not, I shall leavereaders to judge, for it was not intentionally put into it.

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