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The Works Of William Harvey Essay

2237 words - 9 pages

The Works of William Harvey


William Harvey was a distinguished physician of the seventeenth century. Harvey was educated by some of the great scientists of his time and was highly knowledgeable of the scientist theories preceding his time. Harvey was greatly intrigued by the views of the ancient Aristotle and developed a number of his own ideas based on Aristotle’s theories. It was from Aristotle’s theory of the primacy of blood that allowed Harvey to make breakthroughs about circulation and generation of animals. His advancements greatly enhanced the study of anatomy. Harvey also revolutionized the means by which science was performed through the use of innovative, investigational techniques. William Harvey became a well-known name in science because he made profound accomplishments that changed the way scientists performed and the way people viewed the human body.

William Harvey was born on April 1, 1578, in Folkestone, England. At the age of sixteen, Harvey enrolled in Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge where he obtained a bachelor's degree in 1597. He went on to study medicine under Hieronymus Fabricius at the University of Padua in Italy. Fabricius was involved in the study of blood flow in the body, which motivated Harvey to research this branch as well. After moving to England, William Harvey was appointed as a personal physician to King Charles (Britannica). Within his study of blood, Harvey was able to form the theory of the circulation of blood through the body, which he published in ‘On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals', in 1628. The book brought Harvey fame and made him a respected name in science. During his experiments, William Harvey became skeptical of preformation, which sprouted an interest in animal generation. He decided to perform a study on reproduction that resulted in his discovery that some parts are engendered before others. This disproved the common view of preformation (Pagel 33). He published his final writings in the “Essays on the Generation of Animals.” After a productive and eventful life, William Harvey died in London on June 3, 1657.

Through his investigation founded on beliefs of Aristotle, William Harvey was able to hypothesize on the movement of blood in the body. Prior to William Harvey’s research , the medical view of blood in the body came from a Greek doctor by the name of Galen. Galen explained the flow of blood as a to-and-fro movement being pumped by the veins and arteries themselves. Galen also believed that blood was made and then used up in the body. His conclusions were drawn mainly from outer appearances (Bayon 444). This made Harvey’s work more accurate because he performed specific experiments and calculations. One reason Harvey was able to determine the movement of blood through the body was founded in Aristotle’s belief of the perfection of circular motion because it is continuous path (Pagel 28). William Harvey...

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