[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
September 22, 1978

The Philosophy of Medicine: The Early 18th Century

Author Affiliations

National Research Council Washington, DC

JAMA. 1978;240(13):1418. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290130112041

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


This is an important book, not only for its superb treatment of the philosophical bases of 18th century scientific and medical thought, but for its uncanny ability to force its 20th century reader to face his own medical-scientific assumptions. It is a rare experience to enjoy a historical treatment of our discipline that is so provocative for modern thought.

Dr King has done far more than lay before us the philosophical basis of 18th century medicine. He has properly reached back in time to lay its foundations in Neoplatonic and Galenic medicine and has demonstrated the variations played on these themes until medieval theories were forced to face the new world of scientific observation. Equally interesting are his discussions of the attempts to relate past theory and new knowledge, both by accommodation by reinterpretation and by rejection of one or the other. But beyond the interplay of conflicting philosophical constructions,