"Has scientific thinking benefitted medicine?"

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Louise Jones

History Essay

“Has scientific thinking benefitted medicine?”

Obviously, I think that this statement is true. Scientific thinking has benefitted medicine greatly over the years and will continue to do so well into the 21st century.

It can be argued that scientific thinking began in Ancient Egypt, when the role of the priest and the role of the doctor were separated for the first time. This was the beginning of scientific thinking, when religion was separated from medicine. It had been acknowledged that religion could not cure all diseases, although the Egyptians continued to worship gods as a kind of “back-up” cure, just in case the practical method did not work. This was known as the Dual Approach. The Egyptians can claim to be the first civilisation to have a doctor whose name was recorded. Imhotep treated patients in Ancient Egypt in about 2700 BC.

The Egyptians came up with a few ideas as to how diseases were caused. They still believed that angering a god could cause diseases, but they also looked for more practical ways. One of these ideas was that the body was made up of channels, rather like the River Nile, and that if one of these channels became blocked, then it could cause disease. As well as coming up with rational and scientific, to an extent, ideas, they came up with practical ways of dealing with disease or injuries. To treat a broken nose, they would clean out the nose with two strips of linen and then insert strips of grease into the nose. Once the swelling had gone down, the nose would be bandaged. The Egyptians, with their scientific knowledge, knew that they could not treat the nose until the swelling had gone down, so they took measures to reduce the swelling.

The Egyptians were the first civilisation to be able to read and write. This helped people a lot later on. They were able to write down any ideas or theories they had, so that people after them could read them and improve them.

Probably the next advancement in scientific thinking in medicine came in Ancient China. There was a book written called the “Yellow Emperor’s Manual of Medicine”. In this book there is a paragraph which says:

“In treating illness you should look at all the circumstances, look carefully at the symptoms, observe the conditions and attitudes of the patient. If you speak of the presence of ghosts and spirits you cannot speak of medical treatment”.

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This is a great advance in scientific thinking. People were discovering that illness was not sent by the gods. They knew that there must be a rational and decent explanation for the cause of disease. This shows that science and religion had finally separated. However, later civilisations, such as the Greeks, refused to accept that all disease must be down to rational causes.

The height of the Ancient Greek’s civilisation was about 600 BC. They took a lot of their theories and ideas straight from the Ancient Egyptians, as they were only on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea. ...

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