Resume of the primitive period

We have seen that the first notions of Medicine go back to the earliest infancy of society, in all the countries of the world ; so that we may repeat the statement of Pliny, that if there exists any nation which, at any epoch of its history, was without physicians, there is not one in which we do not find some vestiges of Medicine.

We conclude from this, in opposition to Plato, and some other philosophers, that the firstĀ elements of the Healing Art are not at all the result of the degeneration of human nature, Drought about by softness and luxury ; hut that they spring from that natural instinct, which makes a man fly from danger and death, and sympathize with the afflictions of his fellows. We have, therefore, endeavored to penetrate further than has been done, up to this time, into the workings of the human mind, by which the first materials of medical science were developed, and we have found that this process consists, principally, in the addition of the lights of experience to the brute impulses of instinct. In fine, having sought to appreciate the results of that antique revolution, we have established, by a severe analysis, that the results have been advantageous to humanity. We now proceed to follow science through a new phase; we shall behold it expand, from its beginning, by successive development, as a river swells and grows broader from its origin, by the tribute of its branches. We shall have to notice more than once, the errors and abuses which have disturbed, diverted, and sometimes turned it backward in its course ; but let come what will, in the labyrinth of contradictory opinions into which we must plunge, we shall take for our motto, that of the Deontologie Medicale, of Dr. Max. Simon: " Truth in Science, and Morality in Art." (See the dedication of that work)

From History of Medicine by P.V. Renouard M.D.