International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology

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MONDAY, JULY 6  /  19:00 - 20:30  /  Salle Marie Gérin-Lajoie
Claude Bernard and the experimental method with living organisms

Alan Dantas S. Felisberto (Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil)

Inserted into the search History of Biology line, this study aims to explore the epistemic context in which it was the doctor and physiologist Claude Bernard (1813-1878), and the evidence that led to the historiographical interpretation that appointed him "father" or “founder" of experimental physiology. Regarding the methods of investigation, it is known that Francis Bacon, René Descartes and other thinkers had formed the general principles of what is known as the scientific method (Schiller, 1967, p.118), but the consolidation of an experimental methodology living beings involved the integration of two elements: observation and experience (Schiller, 1967, p.118). Such concepts were found in the works of William Harvey (1578-1657), Franz Sylvius de le Boe (1614-1672), and Claude Perrault (1613-1688), no apparent systematic (Schiller, 1967, p.118-119). In the second half of the eighteenth century, three researchers showed the first attempts to systematize the methods of observation and experiment with living beings through his works: George Zimmermann (1728-1795), Samuel Georges Carrad (1740-?) and Jean Senebier (1742-1809), (Prestes, 2006, p. 227-228). Among them, in the mid-nineteenth century, the physiologist Claude Bernard was one of the experimenters who drew the attention of the scientific community of his time. Two relevant evidences about its reputation are: the large number of publications, especially of the book Introduction à l'étude de la médecine expérimentale in 1856, which established some formal basis for methods of experimentation with living beings; the applicant resumed his earliest experiments to remake them more systematic way and with greater depth of reflection and interpretation, which he did, at times, give up the established theories on such experiments (Holmes, 1974, p. 257).