Victories for Empiricism, Failures for Theory: Medicine and Science in the Seventeenth Century

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    • Pages : 9 à 32
    • ISBN : 978-90-481-3685-8
    • ISSN : 0929-6425
    • DOI : 10.1007/978-90-481-3686-5_2
    • Date de création : 04-01-2011
    • Dernière mise à jour : 25-02-2015



    For millennia, learned physicians tried to develop theoretical principles that would guide their therapeutic actions. The most enduring foundations were built on the discourse of the four elements, four qualities, four humours, six non-naturals, and the ways these combined to yield individual temperaments and constitutions. As these fundamentals came under attack in the seventeenth century, empiricism and medical specifics once again seemed the best method of finding certainty in therapy. This was no simple change in “method” proposed by the learned, however, since the developing medical marketplace gave empirics many new opportunities for promoting their views and forcing the rest to take account of them. Does this transition in medicine also apply to “science” more generally, giving prominence to those “matters of fact” that have gained our attention in recent years? The case is made for answering “yes.”