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If antivivisection was alive in America before the mid-1880s, it had very little to aim at. Slowly, that changed, and from the outset, American antivivisectionists targeted both state and federal legislation as the most likely way to generate support and to secure change. Medical scientists, and Henry P. Bowditch chief among them, found themselves having to work beyond the laboratory, making a case for laboratory work in the legislature. This chapter details the early defence of experiment in the United States in Massachusetts, New York and Washington, DC.
The medical-scientific establishment’s approach to the Second Royal Commission on vivisection was brilliantly contrived to ensure success before Parliament. But insofar as they set out to persuade Parliament to let sleeping dogs lie and be cut, a clear need to win over public support to the cause had re-emerged. Even if the medical community could easily sway a public enquiry, it nevertheless took a great deal of energy, time and money. Ernest Starling and his peers across the research community would have much preferred to be left alone to get on with their jobs. Thus, a whole new communication strategy had to be carved out, so that scientists might get their message across to polite society, and from there to the population at large. The coordination of this strategy was also better handled by parties beyond the world of scientific practice, lest this too drain the energy of medical research and divert its attention to the detriment of the pursuit of knowledge. Hence the need for the Research Defence Society, founded in 1908 and led by Stephen Paget.
This chapter details the formation of a formal strategic defence of medical research in the United States, making good on the ad hoc, reactionary work and individualized preparation carried out by men like Bowditch and Ernst. It incorporates the opening of the Rockefeller Institute, the establishment of the Council for the Defense of Medical Research of the American Medical Association and the development of an art – sometimes literally – of public relations by the medical establishment to protect its scientific methods.
German scientists were troubled by the activities of antivivisectionists, with ideas imported from England, and they still struck a defensive attitude. Yet in this period, the German scientific establishment did not immediately feel compelled to organize collectively, at least not to any great extent, to protect themselves. Their defence was as ad hoc as it was incoherent, perhaps reflective of the small extent to which they were troubled. More significantly, German scientists faced accusations outside of Germany of a brutality or callousness that was specific to the German national character. They were raised, by antivivisectionists and scientists alike, as being a dangerous influence on the morals and character of scientists in other countries. If there was callousness in experimental medicine, so one of the arguments went, it was not because the experiments themselves caused it; it was because Germanness was particularly vulnerable to moral numbness. Given that the rest of the civilized world was sending its brightest hopes for the medical future to Germany for training in experimental medicine, particularly to men such as Carl Ludwig and Rudolf Virchow, this perception of personal character flaws was the cause of fear.
This chapter is framed by Charles Darwin's unwavering support for physiologists in their battle against the antivivisectionists, detailing his public writings on the subject, his private sentiments and his funding of the defensive cause. It covers the formation of the Physiological Society, the organization of the first public strategies of defence, the trial of David Ferrier and the formation and acitvities of the Association for the Advancement of Medicine by Research.
The introduction demonstrates that the history of the defence of experimental medicine is a history of humanitarianism and humanitarian practice. It entangles the experience of laboratory practice and of practical teaching in science with the rise in importance of experimentation on animals, and suggests a historical definition of expertise that was derived through this entanglemnt. It situates the story in a context of utilitarianism and Darwinism.
War also shifted the ground of experiment inexorably towards the human itself. The political reality that emerged after it, and the increasing extent to which national governments co-opted scientific research under secretive and ultimately military ends, meant that, all the arguments against it notwithstanding, experimental medicine significantly shifted its gaze from the animal to the human. Not only did this betray two generations of fierce rhetoric from within the medical establishment about the intrinsic humanity of medical research, which lent itself all too readily to the logic of military research into the doing of harm, but it also undermined other key arguments. Medical scientists had claimed time and again that animal experimentation was not a gateway to human experimentation, but there can be no question that two generations’ worth of lessons in physiology, bacteriology, toxicology and so on were directly applied to experiments on humans.
In this compelling history of the co-ordinated, transnational defence of medical experimentation in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Rob Boddice explores the experience of vivisection as humanitarian practice. He captures the rise of the professional and specialist medical scientist, whose métier was animal experimentation, and whose guiding principle was 'humanity' or the reduction of the aggregate of suffering in the world. He also highlights the rhetorical rehearsal of scientific practices as humane and humanitarian, and connects these often defensive professions to meaningful changes in the experience of doing science. Humane Professions examines the strategies employed by the medical establishment to try to cement an idea in the public consciousness: that the blood spilt in medical laboratories served a far-reaching human good.
It has become manifest across the biological sciences that culture is a dynamic component of human brain–body formation and experience. Culture is essential to understanding questions of neuroplasticity, emotional development, interoception, epigenetics, predictive coding, facial recognition, empathy, and so on, yet culture itself is often reduced by those sciences that have come to depend on it. It is "the exterior," or it is "input." The "world," insofar as it introduces contingency to what it is to be human, is not in itself understood as contingent. What happens when culture – both a cause and an effect of human formation – is itself situated, disrupted, historicized? Historians hold the keys to a radical interdisciplinary engagement that complicates the question of culture in ways complementary to the biological disruption of interiority. The cultural brain is an historical artefact. Acknowledging this should change the kinds of questions asked by those who study the brain.
Emotion, Sense, Experience calls on historians of emotions and the senses to come together in serious and sustained dialogue. The Element outlines the deep if largely unacknowledged genealogy of historical writing insisting on a braided history of emotions and the senses; explains why recent historical treatments have sometimes profitably but nonetheless unhelpfully segregated the emotions from the senses; and makes a compelling case for the heuristic and interpretive dividends of bringing emotions and sensory history into conversation. Ultimately, we envisage a new way of understanding historical lived experience generally, as a mutable product of a situated world-brain-body dynamic. Such a project necessarily points us towards new interdisciplinary engagement and collaboration, especially with social neuroscience. Unpicking some commonly held assumptions about affective and sensory experience, we re-imagine the human being as both biocultural and historical, reclaiming the analysis of human experience from biology and psychology and seeking new collaborative efforts.