Leçons sur les effets des substances toxiques et médicamenteuses

J.-B. Baillière et Fils

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J.-B. Baillière et Fils
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Dec 31, 1857
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Among great men, Claude Bernard should be counted fortunate in that he has not become a mythical figure. Pasteur's discoveries are hardly more remarkable, though their immediate influence has been much greater, and his horizon was incontestably less broad. But Bernard remains a plain man, highly distinguished, but not obscured by the growth of a legend. His physiological researches may have immortalized his name, but Experimental Medicine never exerted the influence which it promised. What Bernard saw as the future of physiology remained for decades obscured, so his writings were only half understood. His influence, however, was exerted far beyond medicine.

Stewart Wolf suggests that Claude Bernard's genius in physiological experimentation is similar to the extraordinary Sherlock Holmes' capacity to solve crimes and William Osler's uncanny abilities in clinical diagnosis. Like both of those creative searchers, Claude Bernard typically focused on findings that did not accord with prevailing theory. His curiosity led him to attempt to explain the finding by a tentative hypothesis; he would then devise an experiment. Although he sought for a quantitative result that might serve as a basis of a theory, he had little confidence in statistics as a guide to certainty. Bernard's opposition scientists' prevailing habit of segregating their inquiries into systems rather than studying the unified organism is particularly striking. This volume will be important for those in the medical field as well as those interested in the history of science.

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