William Harvey

Easton Press William Harvey books

Writings of William Harvey - Harvard Classics - 1993

Franklin Library William Harvey books

Works of Galileo Galilei, William Gilbert and William Harvey - Great Books of the Western World - 1984


Physician William Harvey

William Harvey was a 17th-century English physician who made groundbreaking contributions to the field of medicine, particularly in the understanding of the circulatory system. He was born on April 1, 1578, in Folkestone, Kent, England, and he passed away on June 3, 1657, in Roehampton, London. Harvey received his education at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and later studied medicine at the University of Padua in Italy, a renowned center for medical education at the time. He earned his doctorate in medicine in 1602. Harvey returned to England and established a successful medical practice in London, where he became a prominent physician.

One of Harvey's most significant contributions to medical science came from his observations and experiments regarding the circulation of blood. At a time when the prevailing belief was that blood was consumed by the body and then produced anew, Harvey proposed a revolutionary theory. In his seminal work Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus (An Anatomical Exercise on the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals), published in 1628, Harvey demonstrated that blood circulates continuously through the heart and the vascular system. He explained the cyclical movement of blood, its propulsion by the heart, and the role of veins and arteries in circulation.

Harvey's groundbreaking insights laid the foundation for our modern understanding of the circulatory system. His work marked a departure from Galenic physiology, challenging long-held beliefs and emphasizing the importance of empirical observation and experimentation in scientific inquiry. Despite the initial skepticism from some of his contemporaries, Harvey's ideas gained widespread acceptance over time. His contributions were pivotal in advancing the field of anatomy and physiology, and they had a profound impact on subsequent generations of scientists and physicians.

Apart from his work on the circulatory system, Harvey also made contributions to embryology and provided insights into the mechanisms of reproduction. He served as a physician to King James I and later to King Charles I, gaining further recognition for his medical expertise. William Harvey's legacy endures through his pioneering work in medicine and his commitment to the scientific method. He is remembered as one of the key figures in the history of medical science, and his contributions continue to influence the study of anatomy, physiology, and cardiovascular medicine to this day.

William Harvey's revolutionary book on the circulatory system, published in Latin in 1628, demonstrated for the first time how the heart pumps blood through the body. His findings overturned the world's basic understanding of the way the body functions and changed fundamental knowledge of physiology as much as any scientific work in history. The Works of William Harvey will provide scientists, students, physicians, and interested lay persons access to the original works of a pioneer who shaped contemporary science.

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