Medicine and the History of Thought

Fleck’s article is reminiscent of concepts presented in the history of though.  Fleck’s descriptions regarding the evolution of the syphilis disease concept follows a similar pattern to many other disease concepts and scientific ideas in other disciplines.  At the end of the second chapter, the author states that the way philosophers think about and label facts needs to change.  This author rightly points out that facts are changeable (Fleck 50) and this can be attributed to many factors; scientific instrumentation becoming progressively more sensitive, sociopolitical views at the time heavily influenced disease concepts, and/or religion heavily influenced everything at one point in time.  It is difficult to separate out an evolving fact, or in this case – disease concept, from the time in which it was conceived.  This author’s main argumentative thrust us that there is an evolution of understanding and the stages in the process cannot constitute a fact.

The article by Simon outlines a process for modelling that seems to dovetail with the way that medicine is practiced.  If a patient matches a particular collection of signs and symptoms, the physician will order tests to confirm or deny the differential diagnosis.  It is rare that a physician will order a full blood panel and a full body scan for every patient.  Physicians create these models based on what they read in medical texts and experience, there has just been a pragmatic line drawn about the inclusion of various facts in the models in order for them to be useful to a practitioner in a particular setting.  However, the reasons for the placement of the line could change it and, therefore, a different model of the same disease would arise, be more inclusive, and could be used for more purposes than diagnostics.

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