Name: Yifan, Zhang
Mentor: Andrew Kirk
Feb- 11th- 2013
Modern Medicine coming of Age
Generally, modernity is a period of time, which provided economy, industry, science and art a great opportunity to make progress. However, we cannot easily periodize the Modernity, because the time of the start and the end is uncertain; some experts say the Enlightenment starts the Modernity period and the other say it started in 19th century. Such countless uncertainties make the climax of Modernity seem more significant. The climax of Modernity is obviously from late 19th century through early 20th century, which includes the Second Industrial Revolution, The Great Depression, The birth of new artistic “-ism” such as Realism, Romanticism, Impressionism and Cubism, and The Social Conflict such as Russian Soviet Union. Also the Scientific Movement is one of the most crucial pieces of Modernity that help the advancement of the society.
However, for most of people before 19th century, science seems quite strange and unfamiliar because people did not get enough chances to know and to study science. Fortunately, modernity provides such a great chance for scientists to deeply study natural science, biology, chemistry or physics. Several of antibiotics were found and electricity was widely applied around the world. Also, chemi-biology made a huge progress as well, which mostly was applied as chemical weapon during both WWI and WWII. In addition, the advances in pharmacology and surgery are two of the most important things that improve the modern medicine. The explosion of scientific discovery led the world to step forward much faster than it ever did. The very typical representatives of modern Medicine are the discovery of the tubercle bacillus in 1882 accompanying with the discovery of cholera bacillus in 1883 and the one was considered as the most important breakthrough of modern Medicine—Penicillin, one of the first antibiotics to be used in medicine.
The definition of Medicine from dictionary is “The science and art of healing as practiced by physicians and similar professionals and encompasses all sciences related to it.” Obviously, modern medicine is in stark contrast to the traditional medicine, especially the Medicine Study prior to the age of Modernism. In ancient world, prehistoric medicine incorporated plants, animal bodies and minerals. Egyptian can be considered the originator of ancient medicine, because the first surgery in the entire world that can be tracked was in Egypt and the first physician known by name was also Egyptian. Along with contemporary ancient Egyptian medicine, the most extensive Babylonian medical text, Diagnostic Handbook that was written by the physician Esagil-kin-apli, introduced the concepts of diagnosis, prognosis, physical examination, and medical prescriptions. In addition, herbalism was the main aspect of Chinese ancient medicine, and one of the earliest and the most crucial works, Compendium of Materia Medica, was written by Li Shi-Zhen. “The book analyses and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties. The compendium in effect epitomizes the pharmaceutical achievements and developments of East Asia.” (Ben Cao Gang Mu) Li Shi- Zhen also contributed deeper in it by replenishing and rectifying the past errors and misunderstanding “as regards the nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses.” (Ben Cao Gang Mu) The work of Li in fact heralds the dawning of modern medical studies, especially for pharmacology.
Along with the development of the world, however, the pharmacology and medicine did not progress as people expected. The technics in Europe stepped backwards, because the religious superstition inhibited the progress of science. The Europeans deeply believed that bad spirit and punishment of God are the causes of disease, thus, they started to pray for God every second and to make