European Renaissance Humanism

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The European Renaissance brought forth the idea of humanism, which placed human needs and desires at the forefront, which in turn changed the way of life in all aspects of society. Including but not limited to the fields of medicine and science. This period’s obsession with ancient Greek and Roman works affected medicine; they drew from prominent figures, largely from Galen, in order to examine and treat their patients. Vesalius, Paracelsus, and Harvey are all great renaissance physicians who are famous for advancing medicine, studying the unknown human anatomy, and making bold proclamations based on experimentation which directly countered the works of their revered ancients. However, George Saliba, Professor in the University of Columbia…show more content…
In this encyclopedia, he also mentions the use of mercury for treatments of skin boils (379), which curiously was used by Paracelsus in early sixteenth century to treat boils on the skin caused by syphilis. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection known to have been brought to Europe by the Spanish conquistadores from the Americas. Paracelsus, in 1527, publically burned books of Ibn Sina and Galen in a theatrical display of disagreement with the ancient methods. This shows that Paracelsus had in fact come into contact with Ibn Sina’s works, read it thoroughly enough to pick up the use of mercury to treat the skin, cured many syphilis-infected patients with it that history now praises him as the man who first found a treatment for syphilis, and then goes on to publically condemn the root of his knowledge. This illustrates that Ibn Sina, whether loved or condemned, plays a significant role in the renaissance. Even those who hated him, was aided by his discoveries. Not to mention that syphilis was a serious epidemic at the time and the mercurial treatment saved many…show more content…
After the act of blood-letting, he says the following: “When washing the part the skin must be deflected by means of one’s finger, so that the site of puncture is no longer over the aperture in the vein. Then wash; dry carefully; apply a compress.” (Ibn Sina, 507). He understood the need to be clean; in the first book of this encyclopedia he mentions baths at least fifty times as an emphasis to its importance in the health of the physical body. A few centuries later, the existence of baths dwindled. Elizabeth Storr Cohen and Thomas Vance Cohen, co-authors of “Daily Life in Renaissance Italy” while talking about bathing rituals in the time of the renaissance states that: “Washing face and hands remained routine, but a full-body cleansing with water became an uncommon rite, often practiced to mark a major life passage.” (220-221). This reduce of proper hygiene was what caused the propagation of disease throughout Europe, the plagues were spread and diffused faster because of this lack of cleanliness. The recommended treatment, before the discovery of germs, of the bubonic plague was to cleanse and move to a cleaner area. This was a method already recommended by Ibn Sina three centuries earlier, which goes to show that methods of Islamic medicine had much to contribute towards renaissance even centuries after its
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