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Korean J Med Hist > Volume 19(2); 2010 > Article
Korean Journal of Medical History 2010;19(2): 507-552.
클로드 베르나르의 일반생리학: 형성과정과 배경
The Formation and Background of Claude Bernard's General Physiology
Ki Won Han
Science and Technology Policy Institute Specialty Construction Center 26F, Dongjak-gu Shindaebang-dong 395-70, Seoul 156-714, KOREA. hkw9642@hanmail.net
Claude Bernard, a French physiologist in the nineteenth century, strove to establish experimental physiology as a medical branch and scientific field. In 1854, he started his lecture series on general physiology at the Paris Faculty of Sciences, which was continued at the National Museum of Natural History since 1869 when Bernard's chair was transferred from the Faculty to the Museum. At the Museum, Bernard titled his lecture series the "Phenomena of Life Common to Animals and Plants," which revealed the main characteristic of his general physiology. At that time, physiology was generally considered a medical science which dealt only with the human body. Bernard, on the other hand, came to have the idea that physiology could study the functions of plant, animal, and human bodies in the same manner. Bernard's lectures on general physiology had two distinct phases. At Sorbonne, general physiology was a rather speculative theoretical system. It was mainly because of the fact that he did not have a laboratory at the Faculty of Sciences. There, the lecture dealt only with animal functions, and he had no concern for plant physiology at all. After he moved to the Museum, significant changes occurred. In the new laboratory, general physiology was transformed into a truly experimental science, which dealt with both animals and plants. Protoplasm, a physiological basic unit, replaced tissue, which was basically an anatomical unit that fell short of explaining physiological phenomena. The Museum of Natural History played an important role in this transformation. At the museum, zoologists, botanists, and physiologists worked together, and the peculiar natural history tradition of the institution enabled scientists to study animals and plants at the same time. Although there existed some conflicts between experimentalists and naturalists, Bernard could wisely figure out the problem by asserting that the role of a physiologist was to disclose, by experimentation, the fundamental principles that lay behind the superficial facts of life that were already discovered by natural historians. At the Museum, Bernard could break down the distinction between the animal and plant kingdoms in the domain of experimental physiology, and it can perhaps be considered a step toward the formation of the general science of biology.
Key Words: Claude Bernard, general physiology, protoplasm, anesthesia, Societe de Biologie, Paris Faculty of Sciences, Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle
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