During the short period through which we have just passed, we have seen medical science, stripped of its mystic veil, take, suddenly, a rapid bound. The principal foundations of its edifice have been laid, and we see appear an outline of each of its parts, which is to form, at a later period, a vast structure - an outline whose totality offers already an imposing, although somewhat vague, aspect. " Antique science," as M. Littre most eloquently
says, " has a great resemblance to modern science. From the epoch which we are forced to regard as the aurora of medicine - from the first memorials that we possess of it, the fundamental questions are debated, and the limits of the human mind arc touched. But within these limits, science finds an immensity of inexaustiblc combinations, the materials for its growth.(e preceding periods and this ; he belongs equally to mythology and history ; for, if some circumstances of his life, and some of)
This remark is as true of philosophy, as of medicine. Plato and Aristotle indicate to us two sources whence flow all our natural knowledge ; but do not both of them lead us into error, by proclaiming in an exclusive manner, as a mode of acquisition, the one mental intuition, the other exterior observation ?
Hippocrates forms the transition period between th his works are authentic, the greater part are doubtful, or controverted. His doctrine was received by his cotemporaries, and by posterity, with a veneration which resembles a worship, no less, probably, on account of the real merit of his doctrines, than by reason of the mystery which shrouds his birth. After him, no physician has ever obtained an homage so elevated, so constant, and so universal. Very soon, anarchy prevailed in the midst of the school which he had rendered celebrated ; a crowd of methods and theories were surreptitiously propagated there, under the shadow of his name and authority ; so much so, that as a result, it became impossible to discern, in the midst of so many writings and facts, placed to his account, what was really legitimate of all that was imputed to him.
Medical science, in changing its locality, proceeds also to change its aspect. After a few years of confusion, we shall see medical men divided into three great sects, which will struggle with each other during several ages, with balanced success, and end by uniting with, or becoming embosomed in the most powerful.
From History of Medicine by P.V. Renouard M.D.