Confronting Contagion: Our Evolving Understanding of Disease

Hardcover | September 4, 2014

byMelvin Santer

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Throughout history, mankind's working theories regarding the cause of infectious disease have shifted drastically, as cultures developed their philosophic, religious, and scientific beliefs. Plagues that were originally attributed to the wrath of the god Apollo were later described byThucydides as having nothing to do with the gods, though the cause was just as much a mystery to him as well. As centuries passed, medical and religious theorists proposed reasons such as poor air quality or the configuration of the planets as causes for the spread of disease. In every instance, inorder to understand the origin of a disease theory during a specific period of history, one must understand that culture's metaphysical beliefs.In Confronting Contagion, Melvin Santer traces a history of disease theory all the way from Classical antiquity to our modern understanding of viruses. Chapters focus on people and places like the Pre-Socratic Philosophers, Galen and the emergence of Christianity in Rome, the Black Death infourteenth-century Europe, cholera and puerperal sepsis in the nineteenth century, and other significant periods during which man's understanding of the cause of disease developed or transformed. In each, Santer identifies the key thinkers, writers, and scientists who helped form the working diseasetheories of the time. The book features many excerpts from primary sources, from Thucydides to the writings of twentieth-century virologists, creating an authentic synthesis of the world's intellectual and religious attitude toward disease throughout history.

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Throughout history, mankind's working theories regarding the cause of infectious disease have shifted drastically, as cultures developed their philosophic, religious, and scientific beliefs. Plagues that were originally attributed to the wrath of the god Apollo were later described byThucydides as having nothing to do with the gods, th...

Melvin Santer is Professor Emeritus of Biology at Haverford College. He has published many articles on the causes of infectious disease in both plants and animals, as well as on the history of disease theory.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:400 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:September 4, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199356351

ISBN - 13:9780199356355

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Table of Contents

Note to ReaderPrologue1. Homer-Hesiod-Torah-Greek Playwrights2. Philosophers3. Hippocratic Writings4. Galen5. After Galen6. The Causes of Plague in Europe7. The Late Renaissance Period8. Mechanical Philosophy, the Revival of Atomism and Contagious Disease Theory in the 17th Century9. The Discovery of Microscopic Life10. The Cause of Plague in France11. Plant Diseases12. The Nineteenth Century13. Filterable AgentsAppendix