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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/633

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VIVISECTION AND PRACTICAL MEDICINE.

living long years ago before the hubbub of Christian and anti-Christian controversy, exhorted us not to follow the advice of those who bid us tame down our aspirations to our mortal condition, but as far as possible to think the thoughts of immortals, and to live in our every act up to the noblest part within us.[1]

 

VIVISECTION AND PRACTICAL MEDICINE.
By G. F. YEO, F. R. C. S.,

PROFESSOR OF PHYSIOLOGY IN KING'S COLLEGE.

OVER and over again we have been challenged by the opponents of science to give "one conclusive example where experiment has been of direct use to practical medicine." To any one familiar with the history of scientific medicine there can be no difficulty in finding numerous such instances, and, as a matter of fact, many examples have from time to time been given by various writers; but to make these cases satisfactory and conclusive to persons who know but little, and do not care to know more, of the true bearings of the question, is a very difficult matter. Such a test is totally wrong and misleading when applied to the utility of experiment on the lower animals. The matter must be viewed from a wider standpoint than that embracing only single instances of direct benefits accruing from specific experiments.

The primary object of experimental research is to advance physiology—the science which teaches us the uses of the various organs and textures of the body in the normal state, and how the working of the animal economy is carried on in health. The value of physiology depends on the knowledge it gives us of the normal operations of the body, and not on the few cases in which certain experiments happen to aid us in understanding disease, and thus directly promote the practice of the healing art. Our argument is rather this: Physiology is the foundation of both pathology and therapeutics, which together make up medicine; and therefore rational medicine depends directly upon physiology for its strong growth and genuine progress.

Now, physiology can not advance without vivisection; experiment on living animals is as essential to its progress (though far less general in application) as is dissection for the study of anatomy. Therefore, experimental research, including that carried out on living animals, is as necessary for the progress of the practice of medicine as is experimental research in any other science for its advancement and application to daily life. The immediate object of physiological experiment is, then, not to make out new practical methods of treating dis-

  1. Aristotle's "Nic. Ethics," Book X, chap, vii, § 8.