Research Paper; The Important Scientific Discoveries of the Renaissance: Medicine

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Important Scientific Discoveries of The Renaissance: Medicine

Research Paper

Kyra Connelly

Honors History 9

F Block

October 31, 2011

Mr. Deeb

Life without medicine does not even seem possible, but the medical knowledge society has today must come from somewhere. It must have begun at a time when ideas were being put to good use, and everyone believed them. The time period ranging from 1350-1550 marked the span of the Renaissance ("re-birth"). It was during this time in Europe that cities that had just recovered from the Black Plague were starting to re-build and gain strength in their country again. In addition to this, there was a major progress of medical knowledge and renewed interest in the ancient ideas of the Europeans before them. This was made possible by technological advances, accidental discoveries, and continued learning. The entirety of medical development didn't make a drastic change in Europe right away, but the effects that could be felt later started with a few basic conceptions in the beginning; from the time before the Renaissance to the processes scientists discovered that had a big impact on the advancements we have today.

Medicine’s distinctive ideas and most important written sources of authoritative teaching did not originate in western Europe but were drawn from Greek antiquity and the world of Islam. The understanding of ancient medical knowledge, as of other branches of science, was of course conditioned by social and cultural factors that changed over time. For example, what began in Greece even before the Renaissance was where some of the oldest examples of Greek scientific writing and observations to base medical treatment were found; in medical treatises (written studies of a subject). Treatises like the ones about the “epidemics” of that time show that some authors were exceptionally aware medical observers who acquired notable ability to describe the signs and course of disease in individual patients. After taking in most of this new knowledge, Greek approaches to medicine began to include diverse and contradictory approaches. A natural result was the emergence of so-called medical sects: rationalists, empiricists, and methodists. The rationalists were those who believed that the primary task of medicine was to use reason to investigate causes of health, disease, and physiological theories. Those in the empiricist position said that theory is completely useless for therapeutic purposes; that the task of a medical practitioner is to treat his patients; and that his only reliable guide in doing so is experience. The methodists proposed that medical treatment could be successfully carried out on the basis of a few simple rules that could be mastered in six months.

But, of course, Greek medicine reached its fullest development with Galen, who was unquestionably one of the greatest scientists of the period. His contributions to anatomical knowledge remained unsurpassed for nearly fourteen-hundred years. 

With all this rapid development of western Europe society is a time period referred to as the “twelfth-century Renaissance”, which lead up to the Renaissance in the following century. This was when a population increase, economic growth, urbanization, the development of more “sophisticated” forms of secular government and administration, the growth of professional specialization and of occupations requiring literacy, the multiplication of schools, and the enlargement of philosophical, scientific, and technical learning were mixed. All of these had marked an impact on the study and practice of medicine.

So, by the middle years of the twelfth century, the process that provided western European medicine with a rich, specialized literature helped renew centers of learning, and a flourishing tradition of practice sprung up, some of which was already well advanced. The needed work for late medieval and Renaissance medical culture had already successfully been organized. 

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By the late thirteenth century, many medical practitioners possessed formal qualifications, and they stated that wealth somehow had to do with the ranking in the medical hierarchy in the sense that learned physicians were normally a good deal better off than empirics. This meant that no matter how smart the people were, it all depended on how much money patients earned and they would have to see themselves which doctors they could afford.

At this time, male practitioners started discovering more on surgery and the human body. Woman, just as well as men, practiced medicine and surgery, some even emerging ...

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