Alternative Medicine, Alternative Cosmology

  • Roger Cooter
Part of the St Antony’s/Macmillan Series book series


In 1963, Michel Foucault concluded The Birth of the Clinic:

In the last years of the eighteenth century, European culture outlined a structure that has not yet been unraveled [sic]; we are only just beginning to disentangle a few of the threads, which are still so unknown to us that we immediately assume them to be either marvellously new or absolutely archaic, whereas for two hundred years (not less, yet not much more) they have constituted the dark, but firm web of our experience.1

Over the quarter of the century since 1963, many scholars inside and outside the history and philosophy of science and medicine have contributed to the archaeology of that ‘dark but firm web’ — the organisation of our modern ‘objectivity’. Foucault’s own largely ‘internalist’ history of ideas has been surpassed by scholars seeking to unravel and elaborate the subtle and complex relations between the rise of ‘positivist’ or ‘scientific’ medicine, on the one hand, and the concurrent growth of the social structures and relations peculiar to urban industrial capitalism, on the other. Research of this kind is still in progress.2


Alternative Medicine Eighteenth Century Early Nineteenth Century Vital Force Orthodox Medicine 
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© Roger Cooter 1988

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