The interpretation of eighteenth-century medicine has been much contested. Some have view it as a wilderness of rationalism and arid theories between the Scientific Revolution and the astonishing changes of the nineteenth-century. Other scholars have emphasized the close and fruitful links between medicine and the Enlightenment, suggesting that medical advance was the very embodiment of the
philosphes’ ideal of a practical science that would improve mankind’s lot and foster human happiness.
In a series of essays covering Great Britain, France, Germany and other parts of Europe, noted historians debate these issues through detailed examinations of major aspects of eighteenth-century medicine and medical controversy, including such topics as the introduction of smallpox inoculation, the transformation of medical education, and the treatment of the insane. The essays as a whole suggest a positive reading of the transformations in eighteenth-century medicine, while stressing local diversity and uneven development.
Since George Rosen’s comprehensive
History of Public Health, first published in 1956, there has been no internationally comparative survey of the subject. Over the past three decades or so, however, research in this field has expanded rapidly, especially with regard to the history of disease and social order and public health politics and the state. Most of these studies have been highly scholarly and specialised and often dealing with only one aspect of public health in any one national context. The essays here examine the road history of public health in different national contexts in order to provide a work of comparative reference that could be used as a teaching aid.
The book focuses on whether the construction of a public health system is an inherent characteristic of the managerial function of modern political systems. Thus, each essay traces the steps leading to the growth of health government in various nations, examining the specific conflicts and contradictions which each incurred. As a result the volume highlights the need for further comparative analysis of public health systems as a highly fruitful topic for future study.
Medical ethics has been a constant adjunct of Western medicine from its origins in Greek times. Although the
Hippocratic Oath has been intensely studied, until recently there has been very little historical work on medical ethics between the
Oath and Thomas Percival's
Medical Ethics of 1803, which is commonly thought of as the first treatise on modern medical ethics. This volume brings together original research which throws new light on how standards of behaviour for medical practitioners were articulated in the different religious, political and social as well as medical contexts from the classical period until the nineteenth century. Its ten essays will place the early history of medical ethics into the framework of the new social and intellectual history of medicine that has been developed in the last ten years.
Therapeutics has been central to the medical enterprise in all times and all places, but a subject that is all too often neglected by historians. The essays in this volume follow a range in chronology from antiquity to the 1980s and in geography from the Mediterranean Basin to the New World. They touch on such matters as diet and drugs, magic and surgery, orthodox and unorthodox approaches. What they share is an attempt to get beyond the easy dismissal of almost all therapeutics before the twentieth century as meaningless and harmful and to examine concrete dimensions of the therapeutic encounter in its social, professional, religious and scientific reverberations.