New Pathogens, and Morality

Paul U. Unschuld

in What Is Medicine?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780520257658
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944701 | DOI:
New Pathogens, and Morality

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This chapter focuses on the nonexistence of demons and the microorganisms in new medicine and examines the pathogens in new medicine. Cold, dampness, wind, heat, dryness, immoderation or excesses in eating and drinking were the new “enemies.” Demons and microorganisms had found their way into premedical healing at a time when centuries-long wars had damaged faith in morality and in the suggestibility of behavior through the appeal to good ethics. The new pathogens such as dampness, wind, and heat behaved in accordance with morality. The doctrine of the causation of illness and of normal functions in the organism, in the new medicine, was based on the idea of vessels linking all body areas and organs with each other. Demons and worms responsible for sickness, generally invisible to the naked eye, were not part of this world. There was no evidence that these pathogens followed the laws of transport pathways in the body, so they could not be found in any certain place at any certain time. Cold, dampness, wind, and heat behaved in accordance with the laws of the system.

Keywords: microorganisms; new medicine; new pathogens; the laws of transport; premedical healing; ethical behavior

Chapter.  1447 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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