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The Major Scientific Contributions of William Harvey

This research will examine the major scientific contributions of William Harvey (1578-1657). The research will set forth the context in which the significance of Harvey's contributions to science need to be understood and then discuss the specific ways in which Harvey's work decisively altered the concepts and practice of medicine for all time.

What must be understood first of all with respect to Harvey's scientific work is that until the seventeenth century what is today called the scientific method was by no means the custom in medical research or practice. Scientific inquiry itself was governed by authoritative knowledge, notably the Arisotelian view of the universe, which argued and inferred backwards from observation of physical motion to the principle of the unmoved mover--i.e., God--as the origin of the universe. Now Aristotle had been adopted "omnivorously" by Catholic doctrine, which meant that the Aristotelian conception of the physical as well as metaphysical universe was the norm, at least in societies dominated by the Catholic Church. All of this is relevant to the context for Harvey's scientific contribution because of the influence of what happened in the seventeenth century with Galileo's perfection of the telescope, as well as the decline of Catholic hegemony over European culture, via the Reformation.

First is the issue of the influence of the Catholic Church and the impact that Galileo's work had on it. Ordinarily, at least from the perspective of the twenty-first century, culture might not seem like a significant factor of science. But from the perspective of the seventeenth century, a significant part of the scientific accomplishment must be measured with respect to the fact that it was a departure from cultural dominance. The telescope, explains Burke in this exact context, "radically" changed mankind's view of itself in the universe because it demonstrated by experimentation that previous notions about wha...

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The Major Scientific Contributions of William Harvey. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:08, April 21, 2019, from