Claude Bernard and Experimental Medicine Essay

Pages: 5 (1476 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Medicine

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

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Bernard makes the case that statistics are useful to the physician because they lead to the indeterminate, but that cannot be a stopping point.[footnoteRef:7] The solution is to find these indeterminate issues and, through experimentation to make them determinate. He based his entire book "Principles of Experimental Medicine" on the principle of "experimental determinism" instead of on "statistical conjecture." [footnoteRef:8] His belief in the superiority of his system comes from the belief that it is the only way to yield "absolute law" in medicine.[footnoteRef:9] He said that once someone sees a law as determined by experimentation that they can no longer go back to conjecture. The individual has to view it as a certainty then. It seems that his concern is for the patient in a strange way because his belief in experimentation made medicine more exact and actually probably saved many lives. He was trying to bring the profession a step closer to scientific enlightenment and out of the dark ages. [7: Claude Bernard, An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine, translated by Henry Copley Green (New York: Dover Publications, 1957), 140.] [8: Ibid.] [9: Ibid.]

Article One

In a book entitled "Understanding the Language of Science," Steven Darian, himself a scientist, explains many different phenomena, but when taking about medical science he gives a great deal of credit to Claude Bernard. Throughout the book Darian tries to explain how certain scientific language came into being and how the author of the language used it. He says that Claude Bernard was the instrument behind the establishment of medical science in the nineteenth century.[footnoteRef:10] [10: Steven G. Darian, Understanding the Language of Science, (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2003).]

The main goal of the section on Claude Bernard in the book is to explain how he used experimentation to further medical science, and how he advanced all other scientific inquiry also. He quotes Bernard as saying "The observer listens to nature; the experimenter questions and forces her to unveil herself."[footnoteRef:11] This thought that it is possible to take the vagaries of nature and make them, through experimentation, into something that can be used was a quality of Bernard. Darian writes that he was a pioneer who began to use his insights to drive the medical profession forward by leaps and bounds. He discovered that the liver synthesizes glucose which had previously been discounted as an impossibility. He also talks about Bernard's methods of experimentation through comparison. He quotes Bernard as saying that comparative experimentation if "true foundation of experimental medicine."[footnoteRef:12] This writing expanded upon the knowledge to be found in Bernard's own book and showed how his genius was used even further. [11: Ibid, 40.] [12: Ibid, 41.]

Article Two

Another article looks specifically at the methods of Claude Bernard. The main thrust of the article is to examine how Bernard has influenced medicine in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and how he used methods that some find troubling now. The authors believe that the continued adherence the Bernard's principles could be as bad for modern medicine as it would have been for physicians to remain stuck in the non-scientific mode they were in when he was espousing animal experimentation.[footnoteRef:13] [13: Hugh LaFollette, and Niall Shanks, "Animal Experimentation: The Legacy of Cllaude Bernard," International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 8.3 (1994): 195-210.]

The authors do talk about the nineteenth century quantification that Bernard criticizes. The authors say that medicine in Bernard's time was akin to "alchemy." They relate that there were two schools of thought, that of the "inductivists" and the "hypothetico-deductivists," which Bernard got in the middle of.[footnoteRef:14] Bernard was able to see the error in both of these approaches and to devise his own scientific scheme. This view was that hypothesis in themselves were not solid enough to base a law on, he also told the inductivists that they did have to have one. His belief was the scientific inquiry belief that a hypothesis had to be made, but that it had to be testable in a laboratory. [14: Ibid.]

Bibliography

Bernard, Claude. An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine, translated by Henry Copley Green. New York: Dover Publications, 1957. 136-140.

Darian, Steven G., Understanding the language of science, Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2003.

Dodhia, Rahul. "Misuse of Statistics," Raven Analytics (accessed Nov 13, 2012)

LaFollette, Hugh, and Niall Shanks. "Animal Experimentation: The Legacy of Claude Bernard." International… [END OF PREVIEW]

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