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A tale of three cities: the correspondence of William Sharpey and Allen Thomson, Medical History

Authors
Journal
Medical History
0025-7273
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Publication Date
Keywords
  • Book Reviews
Disciplines
  • Biology
  • History
  • Philosophy

Abstract

Book Reviews nineteenth century as a Lehrbuch, then the preface and introduction were written by the physiologists of the Romantic period. This view leads to the provocative and, I think, convincing hypothesis that the transition from "Romantic" to "scientific" physiology was characterized more by continuity than by discontinuity. To substantiate her hypothesis, the author analyses several problems in the establishment of physiology as a science. In a chapter on the problem of how to gain knowledge of nature, she shows that physiologists used Kant's as well as Schelling's writings in a heuristic way, without accepting their philosophical systems. Furthermore, Dr Lohff convincingly demonstrates that Schelling was not an anti-experimentalist, but integrated experimentation within his concept of science. For the physiologists, this provoked discussion of topics like the value of experimentation and the relations between empiricism and speculation, and perception and knowledge (Wahrnehmung und Erkennen). The only irritating aspect of this book is that Dr Lohff completed her manuscript in 1985, so she does not take several more recent studies into consideration. She writes, for example, that Kant's influence upon the sciences is more assumed by historians than precisely analysed (p. 14). This position cannot possibly be upheld after the compelling analyses of Timothy Lenoir, Frederick Gregory, and others. In conclusion, however, Brigitte Lohff has given us a very rich study with many new insights into that dazzling period between 1795 and 1830. Michael Hagner, Medical University of Lubeck L. S. JACYNA (ed.), A tale of three cities: the correspondence of William Sharpey and Allen Thomson, Medical History Supplement 9, London, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1989, 8vo, pp. xxviii, 181, illus., £16.00 (UK & Eire), £21.00/$32.00 (overseas, incl. p&p), from Professional & Scientific Publications, BMA House, Tavistock Sq., London WC1H 9JR (0-85484-090-7). A tale of three cities is a fine

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