Medical doctrines at the turn of the 18th and 19th c. and their philosophical foundations

Review Article, Pol J Public Health 2018;128(1): 36-43

Bożena Płonka-Syroka

Department of Human Sciences, Faculty of Pharmacy, Wroclaw Medical University, Poland

DOI: 10.2478/pjph-2018-0007

© 2018 Medical University of Lublin. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonComercial-No Derivs licence (


The turn of the 18th and 19th c. is a period in the history of medicine where the division of the main modernisation course in clinical medicine was made. Two competing movements were distinguished at that time: physical, the foundations of which referred to the philosophy of the English and French Enlightenment (the so-called Medical Enlightenment) and romantic, which was critical of the philosophy and attempted to base the foundations of medicine on German idealism. The rivalry began in 1797 when the basis of the romantic movement was determined and ended in 1849 when the movement was removed through administrative channels from universities in German Protestant states. Then, the unification of the theoretical foundations of clinical medicine in Europe took place, while the epigones of the romantic movement were included in the area of alternative medicine by academic communities. Both of the movements involved dozens of medical doctrines, which strove to solve practical therapeutic problems in relation to different theories. The aim of the article is to present the rivalry between both modernisation movements on the basis of my earlier studies, the results of which were included in the publications from 1990-2016, and references with particular emphasis on the role of therapeutic doctrines and their philosophical foundations.

Keywords: medical theories and doctrines, medicine at the turn of the 18th and 19th c.


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