by funbot28 on October 20, 2016 - 11:16am
A Shift in Medical Paradigm
Throughout the analysis of the physical exterior of the book “Anatomy of the Bones Muscles” by John Bell, several attributes and key features are noticeable which evidently distinguish it from the writings
that are published today. Primarily, the rugged texture of the front cover which possesses a unique pattern similar to snake skin being quite apparent gives no information about the subjects addressed in its
content nor mention the author’s name or title. Examining the text highlights the use of several different and unique illustrations (also known as plates) which explicitly detail and support the information and
arguments presented within that specific chapter as well. The pages in the book appear to be consumed and practically tainted due to possible deterioration arising from the passage of time. This implies that this book has definitely been used fairly often mainly by surgeons and physicians who wished to pursue their studies in the field of medicine and particularly learn more about the anatomy of the human body.
The text is divided into different chapters whereby each segment depicts a very comprehensive, detailed component of the various aspects and parts of the human body (i.e.: bones, muscles, joints, etc.). This in turn, succeeds in portraying a better organization of information and a more concise visual flow and depiction of facts to enhance the understanding of the presented material.
The text was markedly significant during the period it was published (roughly 1794) as it enclosed an array of very practical and pertinent information about the human body which ultimately revolutionized medical science during that era. Nonetheless, the manner in which this knowledge was disseminated was noticeably different when comparing Bell’s book to encyclopaedias and other written sources we currently have in our database and library collections today. The utilization of these elaborate images which served to highlight a greater supply of data than what was actually needed supported the concept of how knowledge was better understood in that era whereby the use of vivid imagery was more attractive to the readers or users, being the aspiring scholars or medical students, allowing them to better interpret the material being studied.
The text also referenced specific parts of the illustration and linked it to a detailed explanation of that specific area. This aspect links to the principle of “theoria” which “offers certainty because it is based on fully accepted principles” (Cook 408). The anatomy of the human body had been a somewhat unanimously accepted concept after countless dissections on human bodies which satisfied the justification of knowledge of “experimentalism” at that time. This explains why the text held a significant impact on the distribution of knowledge and how it provided an exceptional communication mechanism during that period, which drew a similarity to how we favor empiricism over rationalism in our current society.
Researchers at that time preferred to examine the natural environment in order to draw physical evidence to prove their hypotheses. As stated in the text, “There is thus clear evidence of learned authors increasingly resorting to close investigations of nature in which establishing precise physical details became of central importance” (Cook 416). This marks a distinct parallel between how Bell formatted his text with the divided information which was presented systematically and sequentially with a coherent flow.
Nevertheless, the written component supporting the images was rather brief and did not provide the support or elaboration that it could have , thus not impairing the intended purpose of the expressive images used. This can indicate how knowledge was possibly distributed differently then due the simplicity of the material contained in the book serving to cater to a specific audience of that era.
To conclude, I must agree that Cook’s hypothesis on the way knowledge had been distributed in the sixteenth century when compared to today is accurate principally attributed to the use of the elaborate images, the meticulous formatting of the chapters, and the overall physical dexterity of the book itself. Thus coinciding with many aruguments brought up in her article upon the shifting paradigm in relation to medical knowledge.
Word Count: 643 Words
Harold J.Cook, “Medicine”, in Katherine Park and Lorraine Daston (eds.) The Cambridge
History of Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003): 407-434.