Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 January 2022
This chapter outlines important theoretical and methodological facets of elite medicine in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and traces some developments in each, highlighting their significance for the history and philosophy of the Scientific Revolution. The chapter looks first at “theoretical” questions (centered on medical physiologia), tracing interactions between various Galenic, chymical, and mechanical streams of thought. It then turns to “methodological” issues, examining changing understandings of and roles for observation, experience, and experiment, with some special attention on method in anatomy. Throughout the Scientific Revolution, these theoretical and methodological developments interacted in complex and productive ways. Indeed, it is perhaps best to see medical efforts to develop the science of the living body in this period as an exploration of the changing space of possibilities defined by varying theoretical commitments and a broadening commitment to, expectation of, and attention to discovery by experience and experiment.
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