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The Contagious CityThe Politics of Public Health in Early Philadelphia$
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Simon Finger

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801448935

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801448935.001.0001

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“Improvement in Every Part of the Healing Art”

“Improvement in Every Part of the Healing Art”

Transatlantic Cultures of Medical Improvement

(p.76) 5 “Improvement in Every Part of the Healing Art”
The Contagious City

Simon Finger

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses the collaborative, transatlantic efforts to improve medical science by researchers from far-flung areas. These reformers launched ambitious collaborative investigations into natural philosophy, pursuing knowledge that they promised would benefit all humankind—their efforts at collaborative medical and natural inquiry animated by the belief that improvement was only possible through open exchange. Thus, by making scientific knowledge central to social reform, transatlantic improvers had embarked on a decidedly political project. They hoped that the culture of scientific cooperation would not only advance natural knowledge and medical practice but also make sense of a wildly diverse empire. Sharing knowledge across the sea provided “a means of uniting Ingenious Men of All Societies together,” and thereby establishing “a natural harmony.”

Keywords:   medical research, natural philosophy, social reform, transatlantic improvers, natural knowledge, scientific cooperation

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