Chapter

Harvey and the Magna Carta

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520257658.003.0067
Harvey and the Magna Carta

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William Harvey (1578–1657) worked as an anatomist, carried out animal experiments, and was interested in life in the embryonic state. He asked many questions about nature and the organism. He learned about circulation as the ideal form of movement from Aristotle and also learned about the path of water. He also knew about alchemists and their distillations. He knew about the dominant role of the heart in the organism. He knew that the septum of the heart is impermeable, and he had learned that there is a lung circulation from Michael Serveto and Realdo Colombo. He knew that warmth sets things into movement, while cold leads to rigidity and solidification. He transferred, intentionally or not, the Magna Carta from English constitutional reality onto the constitution of the human organism. He focused on the circulation and the movement of the heart. He wrote an important work, De motu cordis, but he did not mention the soul even a single time.

Keywords: animal experiments; embryonic state; solidification; movement of the heart; De motu cordis; soul

Chapter.  1667 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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