Comparison of Approaches of Medicine of Methodists, Empiricists, and Rationalists (Essay Sample)
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Comparison of Approaches of Medicine of Methodists, Empiricists, and Rationalists
The rationalists, Methodists, and the empiricists have a long history of debate comparing the origin of the source of knowledge and its justification relating to medicine. They have always argued whether the source of knowledge regarding the medical field should be rational, empirical or methodical. Rationalists rely on knowledge inferred from the first premises or principles. Empiricists rely on knowledge regarding medicine from direct observations and experimentation. On the other hand, Methodists are mostly concerned about how knowledge is obtained rather than what information about the medical field is known.
Rationalists which include Plato, Descartes, and Socrates, suggest that reason is the true source and justification of knowledge. As such, rationalists state that knowledge is intuitive and it cannot be derived from the human senses such as observation, touching, tasting or hearing. They argue that knowledge is a result of the mind processes. The rationalists also say that due to the corruptibility of human senses, real knowledge can only be found through the processes of the mind’s capacity to judge and justify. Rationalism warrants a firm foundation of the source of medical knowledge and its justification. We can see an example of the rationalism as a real source of knowledge when Machaon and Podalirius healed the fair-haired Menelaus, who was a soldier in the Greek army (Handout #2). Those who were with wounded Menelaus stood in a circle and surrounded him when a god-like hero removed the arrow and sucked out the blood to heal the wound created by the sharp arrow. The knowledge about the healing of the wound through blood-sucking had not been obtained through learning or experimentation, and I was proven that true knowledge comes from rational reasoning.
Empiricists such as Bacon, Avicenna, and Aristotle avoid the theories of rationalists and exalt experience and observation as the true source of medical knowledge and its justification. According to empiricists, the human mind is a void and a blank slate within which information and knowledge can be built and stored through senses such as sight and hearing. Here, the proponents of empiricism champion the role of observation and experimentation as the origin of knowledge. An example can be found by studying Diocles on the importance of practical experience (Handout #20). Diocles believes that powers found in the foodstuffs are known based on experience and not based on indication according to humor. Another example showing that true knowledge is found in the experimentation is when Aristotle experimented on animals to show that animals which gave birth to multiple babies do not have multiple wombs (Hand out #18). It also showed that male and female twins are formed in the same womb through dissection of an animal.
The debate between rationalists and empiricism originates from the early Roman and Greek medicine. The school of medicine established by Hippocrates’ son in law established that only reason is useful in understanding the cause of diseases and the reason behind their treatment. Rationalist depends on theory, particularly the humoral theory of diseases and health to practice medical sciences. On the contrary, the early empirical school of medicine indicated that only observation, practical knowledge and experience, and not theory could only be relied upon as the foundation for medical practice and knowledge. Genuine Medical knowledge is a result of medical experiments and observations which form a good foundation of knowledge. Empiricists mainly rely on probable and not the proven cause to explain the nature of diseases and the practice of medicine.
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