Text Of Edmund Biernacki

The Essence and the Limits of Medical Knowledge (1898)
  • Ilana Löwy
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 37)


If we analyze how the people generally view the significance of medicine and its representatives, it should become apparent that many questions in this realm are explained in a specific and simple way, which, it must be added, is not altogether unreasonable. Thus, an average patient finds out the following: there are diseases in the world and there exist respective treatments which cure the former. In order to make a right “guess” what medication is needed to treat the disease correctly, one should first of all “know” the disease. The doctor who is able to “know” diseases will treat patients successfully. They say: oh, this or that case has been attended by so many doctors without success, but eventually another doctor was called, who seemed to know this disease, because his treatment has immediately helped. The belief in relation between successful treatment and correct “knowledge” of the disease occurs even in the minds of the least educated. It is not uncommon that doctors have to listen to the opinions of patients in hospitals, of navvies or of poor housewives: “I have seen so many doctors but nobody could help me. Perhaps you will at last know what my disease is and cure me.”


Medical Knowledge Scarlet Fever Evil Spirit Surgeon Assistant Iron Preparation 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ilana Löwy
    • 1
  1. 1.Hôpital Necker-Enfants MaladesINSERMParisFrance

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