Cover: Science and Medicine in France: The Emergence of Experimental Physiology, 1790–1855, from Harvard University PressCover: Science and Medicine in France in E-DITION

Science and Medicine in France

The Emergence of Experimental Physiology, 1790–1855

Product Details


$65.00 • £54.95 • €60.00

ISBN 9780674430921

Publication Date: 01/01/1984

276 pages



Available from De Gruyter »

Media Requests:

Related Subjects

Harvard University Press has partnered with De Gruyter to make available for sale worldwide virtually all in-copyright HUP books that had become unavailable since their original publication. The 2,800 titles in the “e-ditions” program can be purchased individually as PDF eBooks or as hardcover reprint (“print-on-demand”) editions via the “Available from De Gruyter” link above. They are also available to institutions in ten separate subject-area packages that reflect the entire spectrum of the Press’s catalog. More about the E-ditions Program »

An event of fundamental importance to the history of biology is explained in this thoughtful study of physiological method. Physiology was the first of the life sciences to commit itself to the ideal and practice of experimentalism in its modern sense. John E. Lesch traces the more than half-century-long process that gave rise to the field in France, arguing that experimental physiology first appeared there because of circumstances peculiar to the French scientific and medical milieu.

Lesch begins with a look at the nature of physiology and its investigative methods in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. From the pressure and opportunities of the 1790s emerged the Paris clinical school, with its unification of surgery and internal medicine, its centering of education and practice in the hospitals, and its cultivation of pathological anatomy. He shows that in this environment a new generation of experimental physiologists appeared. Their use of animal experiment was marked by the surgical qualities of their training, and facilitated by the clinical experience of the hospitals, research provided by veterinarians, and chemical substances provided by pharmacists. Contemporary French ascendancy in science and advances in education provided the physiologists with scientific exemplars, authoritative standards, and substantive knowledge and technique. By the 1820s a significant segment of the French medical community was involved in some way with the new physiology.

Lesch’s exploration of these pathbreaking scientists and institutions creates a model for understanding the beginnings of a dominant research tradition.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Photograph of the book Fearless Women against red/white striped background

A Conversation with Elizabeth Cobbs about Fearless Women

For Women’s History Month, we are highlighting the work of Elizabeth Cobbs, whose new book Fearless Women shows how the movement for women’s rights has been deeply entwined with the history of the United States since its founding. Cobbs traces the lives of pathbreaking women who, inspired by American ideals, fought for the cause in their own ways