The Works of William Harvey

Michael T. Walton, PhD
JAMA. 1990;263(22):3090-3091. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440220118045.
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The importance of William Harvey to the development of physiology can scarcely be overstated. His study of the relationship of the pulse to the heartbeat, which led to his discovery of the circulation of the blood, is a model of experimental elegance. Harvey's sense of experimental design has been equaled only by scientists like Koch and Hodgkin. Modern physicians and biological scientists can profitably read Harvey's works for their historical importance and their exemplary clear thinking. The eighth chapter of De motu cordis is especially illustrative of Harvey's ability to explicate his ideas and discoveries in the context of then current scientific opinion.

The translation from Latin of Harvey's works by Robert Willis, MD, is a venerable one, first published by the Sydenham Society in 1847. It has the charm of a translation prepared before the full flowering of scientific medicine. While it does not meet the technical needs of


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