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Saturday, October 13, 2018

William Harvey and the heart


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Daniel Mijtens


William Harvey (1587-1657) was an English physician best known for his analysis of blood circulation. Robert Willis says,


"Harvey was not content merely to gather knowledge; he digested and arranged it under the guidance of the faculties which compare and reason... Harvey appears to have possessed, in a remarkable degree, the power of persuading and conciliating those with whom he cam in contact.


Neuroscientist Robert Willis said,


"Few would have predicted that the discovery of the circulation of the blood woudl have hanged the way philosophers view the world, theologians conceive of God, or astronomers look at the starts, yet all of that happened." (The Fabric of Mind, 1985)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Harvey.




"This organ deserved to be styled the starting point of life and the sun of our microcosm just as much as the sun deserves to be styled the heart of the world. For it is by the heart's vigorous beat that the blood is moved, perfected activated, and protected from injury and coagulation. The heart is the tutelary deity of the body..." (De Motu Cordis, 1628)


"The blood in the animal body is impelled in a circle and is in a state of ceaseless motion... and that it is the sole and only end of the motion and contraction of the heart." (On the Motion of the Heart and Blood, 1628)


"I finally saw that the blood, forced by the action of the left ventricle into the arteries, was distributed to the body at large, and its several parts, in the same manner as it is sent through the lungs, impelled by the right ventricle into the pulmonary artery, and that it then passed through the veins and along the vena cava, and so round to the left ventricle in the manner already indicated." (Quoted in the Works of William Harvey)




"When in many dissections, carried out as opportunity offered upon living animals, I first addressed my mind to seeing how I could discover the function and offices of the heart's movement in animals through the use of my own eyes instead of through the books and writings of others." (De Motu Cordis, 1628)


"I profess both to learn and to teach anatomy not from books but from dissections; not from positions of philosophers but from the fabric of nature." (Dedication of Dr. Argent and Other Learned Physicians)




"There is no science which does not spring from pre-existing knowledge, and no certain and definite idea which has not derived its origin from the senses." (Quoted in The First Anatomical Disquisition on the Circulation of the Blood by Willis and Bowie)


"The studious and good and true, never suffer their minds to be warped by the passions of hatred and envy, which unfit men duly to weigh the arguments that are advanced in behalf of truth, or to appreciate the proposition that is even fairly demonstrated." (Dedication of Dr. Argent and Other Learned Physicians)