GCSE Medicine through Time
Robert Boyle and medical reform in the 17th century
Context: These teaching materials are relevant to the Core, c. 1350-c.1750 period, and the nominated topics for 2005, ‘The Scientific Revolution: new ideas and technology', and ‘The role of the Royal Society and William Harvey'.
Aims: The aim of these materials is to introduce pupils to Robert Boyle (1627-91) and his place in the history of science and medicine. In particular, they deal with Boyle's relationship to chemical medicine, his conviction that the human body was best understood according to the mechanical philosophy, and his dissatisfaction with the prevailing Galenic orthodoxy of the day. Although Boyle wrote a book expressing his views on medical practice, he decided not to publish it and it is now lost except for an outline: the reasons why this should have been the case therefore invite exploration.
Vocabulary: abstract ideas; advocates; ague (fever); ailments; amanuensis; apothecaries; black bile; blood; chemical physicians; chemical remedies; choleric; contemporary; corpuscles; corpuscularian; deductive; diagnosis; diaphoretics; diffidence; dogmatic; em etics; Ens Veneris; establishment; experimental; expulsion; forms and qualities ; Galenic ; Galenism ; herbal; humours, the four ( sanguine , phlegmatic , choleric and melancholic ); induction; laxatives; matter; mechanical hypothesis; mechanical philosophy; manuscript; medications ; melancholic; mercury; orthodox; Paracelsians; patron; phenomena; phlegm/phlegmatic; receptive; remedy/ remedies; Restoration; sanguine; stroke; subversive; synthesis; therapy; transcended; vomiting; yellow bile
Historical figures mentioned (other than Boyle): Aristotle (384-322 BC); Bacon, Francis (1561-1626); Democritus (c. 460-c. 370 BC); Epicurus (341-270 BC); Galen, Claudius (c. 130-201 AD); Harvey, Gideon (c. 1640-c.1700); Harvey, William (1578-1657); Paracelsus ( 1493-1541); Pepys, Samuel (1633-1703); Thompson , George (fl. 1660s-1670s); Vesalius, Andreas (1514-64); Willis, Thomas (1621-75); Wren, Christopher (1632-1723)
Time frame: If used in full, the material presented here could provide the basis for two, hour-long classes, if not three. However, there is an element of flexibility about this, depending on whether pupils have already been introduced to Boyle at Key stage 3, and whether they are already familiar with the rudiments of Galenism through their work for ‘Medicine through Time'.
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