1902 Encyclopedia > Medicine > The Iatro-Physical School

(Part 26)

The Iatro-Physical School

The iatro-physical school of medicine grew out of physiological theories. Its founder is held to have been Borelli of Naples (1608-79), whose treatise De motu animalium, published in 1680, is regarded as marking an epoch in physiology. The tendency of the school was to explain the actions and functions of the body on physical and especially on mechanical principles. The movements of bones and muscles were referred to the theory of levers; the process of digestion was regarded as essentially a process of trituration; nutrition and secretion were shown to be dependent upon the tension of the vessels, and so forth. The developments of this school belong rather to the history of physiology, where they appear, seen in the light of modern science, as excellent though premature endeavours in a scientific direction. But the influence of these theories on practical medicine was not great. The more judicious of the mechanical or physical school refrained, as s judicious modern physiologist does, from too immediate an application of their principles to daily practice. Mechanical theories were introduced into pathology, in explanation of the processes of fever and the like, but had little or no influence on therapeutics. The most important men in this school after Borelli were Steno (1638-86), Baglivi (1673-1707), and Bellini (1643-1704). An English physician, Cole (1660-1700), and Bellini (1660-1700), is also usually ranked with them. One of the most elaborate developments of the system was that of Pitcairn, a Scottish physician who became professor at Leyden (1652-1713), to be spoken of hereafter.

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