November 13, 2006 at 2:13 pm | Posted in Economics, Financial, Globalization, History, Research | Leave a comment






James Edwin Thorold Rogers

James Edwin Thorold Rogers


A History of Agriculture and Prices in England from 1259 to 1793 (1866–1902)

James Edwin Thorold Rogers (18231890), known as Thorold
English economist, was born at West Meon, Hampshire.

He was educated at King’s College London and Magdalen Hall, Oxford. After taking a first-class
degree in 1846, he received his MA in 1849 from
Magdalen and was ordained. A High Church man, he was curate of St. Paul’s in Oxford, and acted voluntarily as assistant curate at Headington
from 1854 to 1858, until his views
changed and he turned to politics. He became the first Tooke
Professor of Statistics and Economic Science at King’s College
London, from 1859 until his death. During
this time he also held the Drummond professorship of political economy at Oxford 1862-67
and was M.P. for Southwark 1880-85 and Bermondsey 1885-86. Rogers also lectured in
political economy at Worcester College, Oxford in
1883 and was re-elected Drummond professor in 1888.

For some time the classics were the chief field of his activity. He devoted himself a
good deal to classical and philosophical tuition in Oxford with success, and his
publications included an edition of Aristotle‘s Ethics
(in 1865). Simultaneously with these occupations he had been studying economics. In this
he was friend and follower of Richard Cobden, who he
met during his first tenure as Drummond professor. A radical and a political agitator, he
was instrumental in obtaining the Clerical Disabilities Relief Act, of which he was the
first beneficiary, becoming the first man to legally withdraw from his clerical vows in

His most influential work was the 6-volume History of Agriculture and Prices in
England from 1259 to 1795.


A History of Agriculture and Prices in England from 1259 to 1793 (1866–1902) Protests of the Lords (1875)

External link

Wikisource has original works written by or about: James Edwin
Thorold Rogers


November 13, 2006 at 1:45 pm | Posted in Economics, Financial, Globalization, History | Leave a comment







UK: Board of Trade

The Board of Trade 1621-1970

‘The Committee of Privy Council for Trade and Foreign Plantations’

1621 Privy Council directed by the King “to take into their consideration, the true causes of the decay of trade and scarcity of coyne within the Kingdom and to consult the means for the removing of these inconveniences”. As a result a committee of enquiry was set up named ‘The Committee of Privy Council for Trade and Foreign Plantations’ (this is still the formal title of the ‘Board of Trade’) and this committee can be regarded as the germ of the Board of Trade.

Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries trade matters remained the
responsibility of Privy Council Committees.

1696 William III set up a body of eight paid Commissioners “for promoting the
trade of our Kingdom and for inspecting and improving our plantations in America and

Work on the plantations increasingly occupied the Board although it also had long
periods of inactivity. After 1761, the Board of Trade was in chaos and, with the coming to
power of the Rockingham Whigs in 1782, was abolished.

1784 William Pitt recreated a Committee on Trade and Plantations by Order in Council.
On 23 August 1786 this Committee was put on a formal basis by a further Order in Council.
This 1786 Order still remains in force. A secretariat was set up; President, Vice
President and Board members appointed.

1820 The Board ceased to meet regularly about 1820 because the President found he could
dispatch business more effectively without the committee. In fact no quorum has ever been
laid down and the President had the right to transact all business by himself.

1850 The last formal meeting of the Board of Trade took place on 23 December. It has
met only once since in 1986 (see below).

The Board’s main function during the early nineteenth century was
to advise the Crown on matters relating to economic activity in the United Kingdom and
Commonwealth. During the second half of the nineteenth century the Board also became
responsible for new legislation
on such matters as patents,
designs and trade marks, company regulation, labour and factory matters, control of
merchant shipping, mines. agriculture, transport, power and so on. While it retained its
interest in internal and foreign trade, its control of colonial matters had passed to the
Colonial Office by mid-nineteenth century.

1861 Section 65 of ‘The Harbours and Passing Tolls etc Act’ 1861 allowed the use of the
official title of ‘The Board of Trade’

“The Lords of the Committee of Privy Council appointed for the Consideration of
Matters relating to Trade and Foreign Plantations may be described in all Acts of
Parliament, Deeds, Contracts, and other Instruments, by the official Title of “the
Board of Trade,” without expressing their Names, and all Acts of Parliament,
Contracts, Deeds, and other Instruments wherein they are so described shall be as valid as
if the said Lords or any of them had been named therein”.

1889 Board of Agriculture re-created (taking over Fisheries in 1903).

During the twentieth century the greater intervention of the state in commercial and
industrial affairs led to specialised functions being separated off into new ministries.

1918 Ministry of Labour created.

1920 Ministry of Transport created (excluding merchant shipping).

1938 Ministry of Food created.

1939 The Board’s merchant shipping functions passed to the Ministry of Transport.

1942 The Ministry of Fuel and Power created.

Despite the syphoning off of certain specialised functions, the Board still remained
responsible for the country’s economic life as a whole, whilst at the same time acquiring
many new functions such as location of industry, control of monopolies, consumer
protection and a major share in the work of sponsoring contacts between industry and

1964 The Board re-acquired responsibility for merchant shipping.

The Ministry of Technology was formed partly from the Department of Scientific and
Industrial Research and partly from the Board of Trade.

1966 Board took over responsibility for the regulation of civil aviation from the
Ministry of Aviation, and also acquired the duty of administering the legislation on
investment grants.

1969 On 6th October the Ministry of Power was absorbed into the Ministry of Technology.
The Board of Trade’s remaining industrial sponsorship functions were also transferred to
the Ministry of Technology and competition policy went to the Department of Employment and

Thus, from its beginning as a more or less temporary Committee of Inquiry, the Board of
Trade gradually evolved. Firstly it developed into a Standing Council with a comprehensive
reference, but without executive powers, and secondly, by many gradual stages, into a
complex organic structure whose members became a highly technical department charged with
executive duties, overshadowing the original consultative functions of the Board.

1970 The Department of Trade and Industry came into being on the 20th October of that
year. This new department united the trade and industrial policy functions previously
carried out by the Board of Trade, and the Ministry of Technology. It also assumed
responsibilities, from the Department for Employment and Productivity, for monopolies,
mergers and restrictive trade practices.

The Order creating the Department of Trade and Industry allowed for the new Secretary
of State for Trade and Industry to “exercise concurrently with the Board of Trade and
the President of the Board responsibility for all the respective functions of the Board
and President..” Though the government department known as the Board of Trade was no
longer in practical existence the Board remained in existence for legal reasons and the
Secretary of State retained the historic office of President of the Board of Trade.

The Department of Trade and Industry (1970-74)

As well as unifying the trade and industrial policy functions of the Board of Trade
with the Ministry of Technology, the new Department also took over responsibility for
government policy towards monopolies and mergers from the Department of Employment. The
central aim of the new Department was to help British industry and commerce achieve even
greater international competitiveness. One of the new Department’s main objectives was to
help British firms prepare for the competition arising from Britain’s entry into the
European Economic Community.

1971 The Ministry of Aviation Supply was disbanded. Responsibilities for the aerospace
industry, including the European space programmes, and civil aviation policy were
transferred to the Department of Trade and Industry.

1972 The British Export Board was created on the 1st January to direct the export
promotion activities of the Department integrating its export promotion work with the
British National Export Council. This new organisation consisted of businessmen and
representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry and the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office. The British Export Board was renamed the British Overseas Trade Board on 1st

1974 The Department of Energy was established on 8 January to discharge the functions
and responsibilities of the government in relation to energy resources, thus creating a
new Department from the energy divisions within the Department of Trade and Industry.
After the general election the Department of Trade and Industry was split on 5th March to
form three new Departments: Department of Trade; Department of Industry and the Department
of Prices and Consumer Protection.

The Board of Trade is a
committee of the Privy Council of the
United Kingdom
, originating as a committee of inquiry in the 17th century and evolving gradually into a government
department with a diverse range of functions. This department has been known as the Department of Trade and Industry since 1970, headed by a Secretary of State for Trade and
, who is also President of the
Board of Trade
. The full Board has met only once since the mid-19th century, during commemorations of the bicentenary of
the Board in 1986.

In 1621, King James I
directed the Privy Council to establish a temporary
committee to investigate the causes of a decline in trade and consequent financial
difficulties. The Board’s formal title remains
Lords of the Committee of Privy Council appointed for the consideration of all matters
relating to Trade and Foreign Plantations.

In 1696, King William
appointed eight paid commissioners to promote trade in the American plantations
and elsewhere. The board carried on this work but also had long periods of inactivity,
devolving into chaos after 1761 and abolished in 1782 by the Rockingham Whigs.

William Pitt recreated the committee in 1784, and an Order-in-Council
of August 23, 1786 provided the
formal basis that still remains in force. A secretariat was established which included the
president, vice president and board members. After 1820 the board
ceased to meet regularly and the business was carried out entirely by the secretariat.

In the 19th century the board had an advisory function
on economic activity in the UK and its empire. During the second half of the 19th century
it also dealt with legislation for patents, designs and trade marks, company regulation,
labor and factories, merchant shipping, agriculture, transport, power etc. Colonial
matters passed to the Colonial Office and other
functions were devolved to newly created departments, a process that continued for much of
the 20th century.


The Lords Commissioners of Trade and Foreign
Plantations, appointed in 1696 and commonly known as the Board of Trade, did not
constitute a committee of the Privy Council, but were, in fact, members of a separate
body. Although established by the King, the Board was abolished by an act of Parliament in
1782. The original commission appointed the seven (later eight) of the Great Officers of
State, who were not required to attend meetings, and the eight paid members, who were
required to attend. The Board, so constituted, had little real power, and matters related
to trade and the colonies were usually within the jurisdiction of the Secretaries of State
and the Privy Council, with the Board confining itself mainly to colonial administration.

External link


November 13, 2006 at 1:07 pm | Posted in Globalization, History, Research | Leave a comment









Volume 1 – Issue 03 – November


The following issue is now available online:

To inherit the Earth. Imagining world population, from the yellow peril to
the population bomb Matthew Connelly Published Online: 10-NOV-06 [ abstract] pp 299 – 319

The global system of international migrations, 1900 and 2000: a comparative
approach Giovanni Gozzini Published Online: 10-NOV-06 [ abstract ] pp 321 -341

The world voyage of James Keir Hardie: Indian nationalism, Zulu insurgency
and the British labour diaspora 1907–1908 Jonathan Hyslop Published Online:
10-NOV-06 [ abstract ] pp 343 – 362

The illusions of encounter: Muslim ‘minds’ and Hindu revolutionaries in
First World War Germany and after Kris K. Manjapra Published Online:
10-NOV-06 [ abstract ] pp 363 – 382

Social capital, ‘trust’ and the role of networks in Julfan trade:
informal and semi-formal institutions at work Sebouh Aslanian Published
Online: 10-NOV-06 [ abstract ] pp 383 – 402

Africa and globalization: colonialism, decolonization and the postcolonial
malaise Ralph A. Austen Published Online: 10-NOV-06 [ abstract ] pp 403 –

Diaspora entrepreneurial networks: four centuries of history By Ina
Baghdiantz McCabe, Gelina Harlaftis and Ioanna Pepelasis Minoglou, eds.,
Oxford and New York: Berg, 2005. Pp. xxii + 440. ISBN 1-85973-880-x; $84.95
(hb), ISBN 1-85973-875-3 Robin Cohen Published Online: 10-NOV-06 [ abstract] pp 409 – 410

The global Cold War: third world interventions and the making of our times
By Odd Arne Westad, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Pp. 498. ISBN 1-3 9780521853644
Emily S. Rosenberg
Published Online: 10-NOV-06
[ abstract ] pp 410 – 412

Needles, herbs, gods and ghosts: China, healing and the West to 1848 By
Linda L. Barnes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005. Pp.
458 + xiii. ISBN 0-674-01872-9; $49.95/£31.95/E46.10 Fa-ti Fan Published
Online: 10-NOV-06 [ abstract ] pp 412 – 413

The company of strangers: a natural history of economic life By Paul
Seabright. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005. Pp. 320.
$18.95/£12.50. ISBN 0-691-12452-3
Geerat J. Vermeij
Published Online: 10-NOV-06
[ abstract ] pp 413 – 414

To access this issue visit:
Tables of
contents and article abstracts are free to all on Cambridge Journals Online.
Access to the full text is available to users whose institutions subscribe.
If your institution does not subscribe why not recommend
Journal of Global
to your librarian today and gain access 24-hours a day.

If you have any queries regarding this email or Cambridge Journals Online,
please email
if you are located in the
USA, Canada, or Mexico and
if you are located elsewhere.

With best wishes

David Kalivas

Cambridge Journals

H-NET List for World History

Journal of Global History

From: David M. Fahey
Miami University (Ohio)

Nov 13, 2006


November 13, 2006 at 1:13 am | Posted in Books, History, Research, Science & Technology | Leave a comment








Claude Bernard (Figure 1) was born on 12 July 1813 in Saint-Julien de Villefranche,<br /> in the French region of Beaujolais

CLAUDE BERNARD (1818-1878)

Science Issues
Neuro History


Claude Bernard was born on 12 July 1813 in Saint-Julien de Villefranche, in the French
region of Beaujolais

After a first course of private studies, he attended the Jesuits’ colleges of
Villefranche and Thoissey, where he was taught literature but no physics or natural
sciences. Due to family financial problems, he had to abandon his studies and was hired by
a Lyon chemist. At this time he also started an intense literary activity that led first
to the writing of a vaudeville entitled Rose du Rhône and subsequently of a historical
tragedy, Arthur de Bretagne. Determined to pursue his literary ambitions, Bernard moved to
Paris, where he hoped that the editor Saint-Marc Girardin, a fellow Burgundian, would
publish his work. Girardin, however, advised the young dreamer to learn a job: thus
started the career of the man who eventually changed physiology and medicine for ever!
Bernard began medical studies and a few years later he came into contact with François
Magendie and soon became his favourite
préparateur (research assistant). He became a medical doctor in 1843, but failed the
examination that would have qualified him to teach in the medical school and was forced to
earn a living in the private laboratory of Dr Theodore-Jules Pelouze, a friend of
Magendie. So that he could continue his reasearch, he married the daughter of a wealthy
woman, Marie-Françoise Martin. From 1847 his scientific life became a continuous
succession of studies, publications and honours.

Bernard’s physiology rests on three conceptual pillars: determinism, the rejection of
teleology and metaphysics, and the overcoming of dependence on anatomy. Bernard inherited
determinism from the two preceding centuries and placed it at the heart of his physiology.
His determinism was “absolute”, first because it concerned both inanimate
objects and living organisms; secondly because a phenomenon will not occur differently
given the same conditions; and thirdly because it also applied to the psychic sphere.
Bernard thus appropriated the teachings of natural sciences and laid the foundations of
much of the subsequent evolution of life sciences. Bernard’s absolute

determinism entailed relinquishing the teleological
and metaphysical tendency of physiology, and transformed it from the science of seeking
the “whys” into that of studying the “hows”. By shrinking the scope of
physiology, Bernard paved the way for the century and a half of extraordinary progress
that so profoundly affected both scientific knowledge and medical practice. The concept
that physiological phenomena depend on physico-chemical causes inevitably entailed the
overcoming of the concept of physiology as “anatomy in motion” (anatomia
animata) and a radical shift in perspective. From these considerations stems Bernard’s
concept of milieu intérieur: he emphasized that an animal’s life depends on the internal
environment, that is, on the plasma (extracellular fluids), which provides the
physico-chemical conditions for the correct functioning of cells. Bernard reasoned that if
correct cell functioning depends on optimal physico-chemical conditions, then these must
be constant and, inevitably, there have to be mechanisms that allow such conditions to be

More than sixty years later, Walter Cannon was to broaden this concept and call it

Since then, a large portion of life sciences has been pivoting on this concept, and it
is difficult to imagine any function of the organism without making reference to
homeostatic mechanisms. In Bernard’s opinion, the “new” life sciences needed to
penetrate the internal environment and investigate its regulation if they were to study
living organisms.
To him, this meant animal experimentation (Figure 2). Although animal
experiments had been done since antiquity, Bernard established them as an essential tool
in the acquisition of physiological and clinical data. His conviction that the study of
living creatures is a precondition of understanding the functioning and dysfunction of
organs and organisms influenced generations of scientists and physicians and greatly
contributed towards one of the richest periods in the history of biomedical sciences.

The name of Bernard is inextricably linked to the experimental method, which is
discussed in his well-known
Introduction à
l’etude de le médecine experimentale
(Figure 3). Although this
association is not entirely correct, and Bernard himself rejected the attribution of its
discovery, it is nonetheless true that he crowned the experience of the two previous
centuries and added two characteristic elements of his epistemological creed: the emphasis
on the concept of hypothesis and fallibilism. According to Bernard, the experimental
method rests on the sequence of events from observation through hypothesis to experiment.
Observation and experiment are not different in nature, but for their position within the
sequence. The experiment is an observation performed with a view to verifying a
hypothesis: by providing facts to the experimenter it becomes in turn an observation (and
the starting point of another sequence). Thus, the logic of experimental reasoning is
circular. Like nobody before him, Bernard emphasized the need for experiments to rest on
experimental reasoning deriving from a hypothesis. But Bernard, educated at the school of
the empiricist François Magendie, knew that a researcher often has to deal with things
about which he knows no “fact” beforehand. In such cases, an “exploratory
experiment” (expérience pour voir) needs to be done. This becomes the starting point
for advancing a hypothesis, which is then subjected to experimental verification. A
fundamental feature of Bernard’s methodological conception is the fallibility of all

Bernard’s neurological studies have been collected in the Leçons sur la Physiologie et la Pathologie du Système Nerveux (Figure 4), and
in the
Leçons sur les Effets des Substances Toxiques et Médicamenteuses. Bernard carried out the bulk of his early neurological studies along the lines
traced by Magendie and shared both Magendie’s experimental approach (ablations, lesions,
use of poisons) and conceptual bases (close bonds with clinical and pathological studies).
An example is his research into recurrent sensitivity: Magendie had observed that pinching
or cutting the ventral roots in dogs resulted in pain-like responses and that resection of
the appropriate dorsal root abolished these responses, a phenomenon for which he coined
the term “recurrent sensitivity” (which seems to depend on unmyelinated fibres
of the ventral root that carry nociceptive information to the dorsal horn through the
dorsal root). Recurrent sensitivity became a popular subject of investigation and
generated many controversies; Bernard performed many experiments on it and resolved its
ostensible contradictions by researching in great detail the experimental conditions
required for its expression.

At least two of Bernard’s neurological contributions have had a crucial influence in
shaping our understanding of the brain’s functions: the emphasis on the role played by the
central nervous system in the regulation of vital functions and the curare studies.

Life and the brain. In his opening lecture of the 1856-1857 Course at the Collège de
France, Bernard stated that he considered the regulation of vital functions (the first
chapter of his Leçons sur la Physiologie et la Pathologie du Système Nerveux) as
the foremost function of the brain. He wrote: “It is [the brain] that activates and
regulates not only all the phenomena of our everyday life, but also influences all the
events of organic life, all the acts related to nourishment, secretion, heat production,
etc . . . There is no longer any doubt today of the truth of this role: in fact, by acting
on the nervous system we can modify not only the actions of everyday life, but also the
phenomena of secretion and thermogenesis; these, though being physico-chemical phenomena,
are closely influenced by the nervous system.” (It was in the course of these
investigations that Bernard noted an appreciable temperature increase in the affected
region following resection of the cervical sympathetic chain: this resulted in the
attribution to him of the discovery of vasomotor fibres, even though his initial
interpretation of this phenomenon was in fact incorrect.) In this context, it is
fascinating to consider that, historically, the relationship between life and nervous
system function has tended to be neglected or considered at best of secondary importance.
However, according to recent theories, it is in the sum of the nervous mechanisms
governing the regulation of the milieu intérieur that neural patterns of functions,
organs and also of body delimitation become organized during evolution (creating the self)
and thus where the origin of consciousness should be sought.

The action of curare. Bernard showed that electrical stimulation
of a motor nerve in a curarized frog does not elicit muscular contractions even if the
muscle is still capable of contracting if stimulated directly; that curare has no action
on sensation; that stimulating a sciatic nerve soaked in curare provokes normal muscular
contraction if the muscle is outside the curare bath, whereas stimulating the sciatic
nerve lying outside the curare bath does not elicit contractions if the muscle is soaked
in the curare bath; and that injection of curare into the artery supplying a muscle (Figure 5) provokes its
paralysis. His numerous curare experiments contributed to the hypothesis that some
structure exists between the
nervous motor fibres and the striated muscle fibres with properties differing from those of either.
Bernard had indeed some intuition of the existence of such a structure as he wrote:
“curare must act on the terminal plates of motor nerves” and “Curare does
no more than interrupt something motor which puts the nerve and the muscle into electrical
relationship for movement; “motor” is not quite clear but probably refers to the
activating agent, the one we now call “motor nerve impulse”.

The neuromuscular synapse was eventually described in the early 1860s by a former
student of Bernard’s, W. F. Kühne (1837-1900), and by W. Krause (1833-1910), and more
exhaustively in Kühne’s 1888 Croonian Lecture. By forging new ideas regarding
cell-to-cell communication, as well as by its direct influence, this discovery paved the
way for the foundation of the neuron doctrine and heralded the “synaptic era”.

A little-known article by Bernard entitled Des
Fonctions du Cerveau
appeared in the 15 March 1872 issue of the
periodical Revue des Deux Mondes (Figure 6), in which he
elaborated some concepts addressed in his Discours pour la reception in the Académie
Française three years earlier. At variance with many of his Leçons, which are not an
easy read today,
Des Fonctions du Cerveau is exceptionally modern in both content and language. In essence, Des fonctions
deals with a refusal to accept the view that thought, intelligence and higher brain
functions are beyond the realm of experimentation. As a physiologist convinced of the
power of experimentation and direct observation, Bernard rejects the idea that brain
function will not yield to experimental research.

Fiorenzo Conti
Istituto di Fisiologia Umana
Facoltà di Medicina e Chirurgia
Università di Ancona

Favourite Sentences:

1. On determinism:
“To us, physiology is thus the science that aims at studying the phenomena of living
beings and at defining the material conditions that determine their manifestation . . .
once the conditions determining a phenomenon are known, the same phenomenon must be
reproducible by the experimenter at will . . . This is an absolute principle governing
both living organisms and inanimate objects” (Bernard, 1865).

2. On “why” and “how”:
“The nature of our spirit drives us to seek the essence or the reason of
things, so we tend to look farther than the object of our quest . . . Yet, we cannot go
beyond the how, that is to say beyond the near causes or the conditions of the existence
of phenomena . . . What is true is that the nature or the very essence of all phenomena,
be they vital or mineral, will forever remain unknown to us . . . Science has precisely
the privilege of making us know what we ignore, substituting reason and experience to
feeling, and showing clearly the boundaries of our present knowledge. But, by virtue of a
wonderful compensation, as science humbles our pride, it strengthens our power . . . To
sum up, if our feeling daily asks “why”, our reason shows that only
“how” is within our reach; for the present, it is thus only the how that
interests the scientist and the experimenter” (Bernard, 1938).

3. On anatomy:
Galen performed both
corpse dissections and experiments on live animals, a demonstration that he too perfectly
understood that the former are interesting only insofar as they can be compared with the
latter . . . The humoral or physico-chemical part of physiology, which cannot be dissected
and constitutes what we define as our internal environment has been neglected and
overlooked . . Indeed, when an anatomist observes in a part of the body some muscle
fibres, he concludes that there is muscle contraction; when he observes gland cells he
concludes that there is secretion;when he sees nerve fibres that there is sensitivity and
movement. But how did he learn that muscle fibres contract, gland cells secrete and nerves
are sensory or motor if not by studying living organisms?” (Bernard, 1865).

4. On the constancy of the milieu intérieur:
“The constancy of the internal environment is the element conditioning free,
independent life: the mechanism that makes it possible is in fact the same that ensures
the maintenance in the internal environment of all the conditions required for the life of
the elements” (Bernard, 1878-1879).

5. On the experimental method:
“The complete scientist is one who masters both theory and experimental practice. 1,
he observes a fact; 2, he conceives an idea with reference to this fact; 3, on the basis
of this idea he pursues a line of reasoning, plans an experiment and imagines and
organizes its material conditions; 4, this experiment produces more phenomena that shall
be subjected to observation and so on. In a sense, the scientist’s mind is always between
two observations: one is the starting point of the reasoning, the other its
conclusion” (Bernard, 1865).

6. On the fallibility of

“The main characteristic that a scientist studying natural phenomena must have is
complete freedom of the spirit based on philosophical doubt . . . When we conceive a
general scientific theory, the one thing of which we can be certain is that – speaking in
absolute terms – all such theories are false. They are but partial and provisional truths
that we need, like steps on which we rest, to advance in our investigation.” And
“If an idea arises, we should not reject it only because it does not agree with the
logical consequences of a dominant theory” (Bernard, 1865).

7. On the experimental medicine:
“I consider hospitals as the anteroom of scientific medicine; they certainly are the
first field of observation for the physician, but the sanctuary of medical science is the
laboratory: it is here that by means of experimental analysis the researcher seeks the
explanations on the nature of vital phenomena in normal and pathological conditions”
(Bernard, 1865).

8. On the brain:
“How can it be that physiologists are able to explain the phenomena that
take place in all of the body’s organs but only a fraction of those that happen in the
brain? It is impossible for such distinctions to exist among the vital phenomena.
Admittedly, these phenomena are endowed with different degrees of complexity, but either
they are all accessible, or they are all inaccessible to our study, and the brain, however
wonderful the metaphysical manifestations of which it is the seat appear to us, can
certainly not be the sole exception” (Bernard, 1872).

9. ” . . . brain physiology must be inferred from anatomical
observations, physiological experiments, and the knowledge of pathological anatomy exactly
like that of all the other body organs.” And, “If we now consider the organic
and physico-chemical conditions essential for life and the
execution of functions, we can see that they are identical in the brain and in all the
other organs” (Bernard, 1872).

10. “Diseases, which ultimately are nothing more than vital
perturbations brought about by nature rather than the hand of the physiologist, affect the
brain according to the common laws of pathology, that is to say, by giving rise to
functional disturbances that are always connected with the nature and the site of the
lesion” (Bernard, 1872).

11. “We believe that the advances of modern science do allow us to
take on the physiology of the brain” (Bernard, 1872).

12. “Physiology demonstrates that, accounting
for the different and more complex nature of the relevant phenomena, the brain is the
organ of intelligence exactly like the heart is the organ of circulation and the larynx is
the organ of voice”
(Bernard, 1872).

13. The best:
“I am convinced that when physiology shall be
sufficiently advanced, the poet, the philosopher and the physiologist will understand each
other” (Bernard, 1865).


Bernard, C. (1857) Leçons sur les Effets des Substances Toxiques et Médicamenteuses,
Paris: Baillière.

Bernard, C. (1858) Leçons sur la Physiologie et la Pathologie du Système Nerveux, 2
Vols, Paris: Baillière.

Bernard, C. (1864) Etudes physiologiques sur quelques poisons américains. I. Le
Curare, Revue des Deux Mondes XXXIV (Seconde période), 53: 164-190.

Bernard, C. (1865) Etude sur la physiologie du coeur, Revue des Deux Mondes, 1 mars,

Bernard, C. Introduction à l’Etude de la Médecine Expérimentale, Paris: Baillière.

Bernard, C. (1872) Des Fonctions du Cerveau, Revue des Deux Mondes XLII (Seconde
période), 98: 373-385.

Bernard, C. (1878-1879) Leçons sur les Phénomènes de la Vie Communs aux Animaux et
aux Végétaux, 2 Vols, Paris: Baillière.

Bernard, C. (1938) Philosophie: Manuscrit indenit, Paris: Haitier Boivin.

Conti, F. (2001) Claude Bernard: primer of the second biomedical revolution, Nature
Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, 2: 703-708.

Conti, F. (2002) Claude Bernard’s Des Fonctions du Cerveau: An ante litteram manifesto
of the neurosciences? Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 3: 979-985.

Cowan, W. M. & Kandel, E. R. (2001) in W. M. Cowan, T. C. Südhof & C. F.
Stevens (eds), Synapses, Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1-87.

Fessard, A. (1967) in F. Grande, & M. B. Visscher, (eds), Claude Bernard and
Experimental Medicine, New York: Schuman, 105-123.

Grande, F. & Visscher, M. B. (1967) Claude Bernard and Experimental Medicine, New
York: Schuman.

Holmes, F. L. (1974) Claude Bernard and Animal Chemistry: The Emergence of a Scientist,
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lesch, J. E. (1984) Science and Medicine in France: The Emergence of Experimental
Physiology, 1790-1855, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Olmsted, J. M. D. & Harris Olmsted, E. (1952) Claude Bernard and the Experimental
Method in Medicine, New York: Schuman.

Shepherd, G. M. (1991) Foundations of the Neuron
New York: Oxford University Press.

Claude Bernard (July 12, 1813February 10, 1878) was a French physiologist. He was called by Prof. I. Bernard Cohen of
Harvard University, “one of the greatest of all men of science” in his Forward
to the Dover edition (1957) of Bernard’s classic on scientific method,
An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (originally published in 1865).


Bernard was born in the village of Saint-Julien near
Villefranche-sur-Saône. He received his early
education in the Jesuit school of that town, and then proceeded
to the college at Lyon, which, however, he soon left to become
assistant in a druggist’s shop. His leisure hours were devoted to the composition of a vaudeville comedy, and the success it achieved moved him to
attempt a prose drama in five acts, Arthur de Bretagne. At the age of twenty-one he
went to Paris, armed with this play and an introduction to Saint-Marc Girardin, but the critic dissuaded him
from adopting literature as a profession, and urged him rather to take up the study of
medicine. This advice he followed, and in due course became interne at the Hotel Dieu. In this way he was brought into contact with the
great physiologist, François Magendie, who was
physician to the hospital, and whose official ‘preparateur’ at the Collège de France he became in 1841.
In 1845 he married Françoise Marie (Fanny) Martin for
convenience; the marriage was arranged by a colleague and her dowry helped finance his
experiments. In 1847 he was appointed his deputy-professor at the
college, and in 1855 he succeeded him as full professor.

Some time previously Bernard had been chosen the first occupant of the newly-instituted
chair of physiology at the Sorbonne. There no
laboratory was provided for his use, but Louis
, after an interview with him in 1864, supplied the
deficiency, at the same time building a laboratory at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle
in the Jardin des Plantes, and establishing a
professorship, which Bernard left the Sorbonne to accept in 1868,
the year in which he was admitted a member of the Académie
. When he died he was accorded a public funeral – an honour which had never
before been bestowed by France on a man of science.


Claude Bernard’s aim, as he stated in his own words, was to
establish scientific method in medicine. He
dismissed many previous misconceptions, took nothing for granted and was relying on
experimentation. Unlike his contemporaries he insisted that all living creatures were also
bound by the same laws as inanimate matter.

Claude Bernard’s first important work was on the functions of the pancreas gland, the juice of which he proved to be of great
significance in the process of digestion; this achievement won him the prize for
experimental physiology from the French Academy
of Sciences
. A second investigation – perhaps his most famous was on the glycogenic
function of the liver; in the course of this he was led to the
conclusion, which throws light on the causation of diabetes
, that the liver, in addition to secreting bile, is the seat of an internal
secretion, by which it prepares sugar at the expense of the elements of the blood passing
through it. A third research resulted in the discovery of the
vaso-motor system. While engaged, about 1851, in examining the effects produced in the temperature of
various parts of the body by section of the nerve or nerves belonging to them, he noticed
that division of the cervical sympathetic gave rise to more active circulation and more
forcible pulsation of the arteries in certain parts of the head, and a few months
afterwards he observed that electrical excitation of the upper portion of the divided
nerve had the contrary effect.
In this way he
established the existence of vaso-motor nerves, both vaso-dilalator and vaso-constrictor.

Milieu intérieur, internal environment, was the original
concept of Bernard that to this day is of utmost importance. Conditions in the world
around us constantly change, but delicate balance of internal characteristics of our
bodies is not affected. It is achieved through what we call it today homeostasis.

The study of the physiological action of poisons was also a favourite one with him, his
attention being devoted in particular to curare and carbon

Bernard practiced vivisection to the disgust of his
wife and his daughter. He firmly believed that the advancement of medicine and the relief
of human suffering justified the suffering of animals but his wife was not convinced, the
couple were officially separated in 1869 and his wife went on to actively campaign against
the practice of vivisection.

On his passing, Claude Bernard was interred in Le Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865)

[Note: All page references refer to the Dover edition of 1957. See
“References” below.]

In his major discourse on scientific method, An
Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine
Claude Bernard describes what makes a scientific theory good and what makes a scientist
important, a true discoverer. Unlike many scientific writers of his time, Bernard writes
about his own experiments and thoughts, and uses the first person.

Known and Unknown. What makes a scientist important, he states, is how well he or
she has penetrated into the unknown. In areas of science where the facts are known to
everyone, all scientists are more or less equal—we cannot know who is great. But in
the area of science that is still obscure and unknown the great are recognized: “They
are marked by ideas which light up phenomena hitherto obscure and carry science
forward” (p. 42).

Authority vs. Observation. It is through the experimental method that science is
carried forward–not through uncritically accepting the authority of academic or
scholastic sources. In the experimental method, observable reality is our only authority.
Bernard writes with scientific fervor:

“When we meet a fact which contradicts a prevailing theory, we must accept the fact
and abandon the theory, even when the theory is supported by great names and generally
accepted” (p. 164).

Induction and Deduction. Experimental science is a constant interchange between
theory and fact, induction and deduction. Induction, reasoning from the particular to the
general, and deduction, or reasoning from the general to the particular, are never truly
separate. A general theory and our theoretical deductions from it must be tested with
specific experiments designed to confirm or deny their truth; while these particular
experiments may lead us to formulate new theories.

Cause and Effect. The scientist tries to determine the relation of cause and
effect. This is true for all sciences: the goal is to connect a “natural
phenomenon” with its “immediate cause.” We formulate hypotheses
elucidating, as we see it, the relation of cause and effect for particular phenomena. We
test the hypotheses. And when an hypothesis is proved, it is a scientific theory.
“Before that we have only groping and empiricism” (p. 74).

Verification and Disproof. Bernard explains what makes a theory good or bad

“Theories are only verified hypotheses, verified by more or less numerous facts.
Those verified by the most facts are the best, but even then they are never final, never
to be absolutely believed.” [P. 165].

When have we verified that we have found a cause? Bernard states:

Indeed, proof that a given condition always precedes or accompanies a phenomenon does
not warrant concluding with certainty that a given condition is the immediate cause of
that phenomenon. It must still be established that when this condition is removed, the
phenomen will no longer appear…. [P. 55]

We must always try to disprove our own theories. “We can solidly settle our ideas
only by trying to destroy our own conclusions by counter-experiments” (p. 56). What
is observably true is the only authority. If through experiment, you contradict your own
conclusions—you must accept the contradiction–but only on one condition: that the
contradiction is PROVED.

Determinism and Averages. In the study of disease, “the real and effective
cause of a disease must be constant and determined, that is, unique; anything else would
be a denial of science in medicine.”
In fact, a
“very frequent application of mathematics to biology [is] the use of
that is, statistics—which may give only
“apparent accuracy.” Sometimes averages do not give the kind of information
needed to save lives. For example:

A great surgeon performs operations for stone by a single method; later he makes a
statistical summary of deaths and recoveries, and he concludes from these statistics that
the mortality law for this operation is two out of five. Well, I say that this ratio means
literally nothing scientifically and gives us no certainty in performing the next
operation; for we do not know whether the next case will be among the recoveries or the
deaths. What really should be done, instead of gathering facts empirically, is to study
them more accurately, each in its special determinism….to discover in them the cause
of mortal accidents so as to master the cause and avoid the accidents. [Page 137]

Although the application of mathematics to every aspect of science is its ultimate
goal, biology is still too complex and poorly understood.
for now the goal of medical science should be to discover all the new facts possible.
Qualitative analysis must always precede quantitative analysis.

Truth vs. Falsification. The “philosophic spirit,” writes Bernard, is
always active in its desire for truth. It stimulates a “kind of thirst for the
unknown” which ennobles and enlivens science—where, as experimenters, we need
“only to stand face to face with nature” (p. 221). The minds that are great
“are never self-satisfied, but still continue to strive” (p. 222). Among the
great minds he names Priestly
and Blaise Pascal.

Meanwhile, there are those whose “minds are bound and cramped” (p. 37). They
oppose discovering the unknown (which “is generally an unforeseen relation not
included in theory”) because they do not want to discover anything that might
disprove their own theories. Bernard calls them “despisers of their fellows” and
says “the dominant idea of these despisers of their fellows is to find others’
theories faulty and try to contradict them” (p. 38). They are deceptive, for in their
experiments they report only results that make their theories seem correct and suppress
results that support their rivals. In this way, they “falsify science and the

They make poor observations, because they choose among the results of their experiments
only what suits their object, neglecting whatever is unrelated to it and carefully setting
aside everything which might tend toward the idea they wish to combat. [P. 38]

Discovering vs. Despising. The “despisers of their fellows” lack the
“ardent desire for knowledge” that the true scientific spirit will always
have—and so the progress of science will never be stopped by them. Bernard writes:

Ardent desire for knowledge, in fact, is the one motive attracting and supporting
investigators in their efforts; and just this knowledge, really grasped and yet always
flying before them, becomes at once their sole torment and their sole happiness….A
man of science rises ever, in seeking truth; and if he never finds it in its wholeness, he
discovers nevertheless very significant fragments; and these fragments of universal truth
are precisely what constitutes science. [P. 22]


  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh
    , a publication now in the public domain.
  • Bernard, Claude. An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine, 1865.
    First English translation by Henry Copley Greene, published by Macmillan & Co., Ltd.,
    1927; reprinted in 1949. The Dover Edition of 1957 is a reprint of the original
    translation with a new Forward by I. Bernard Cohen of Harvard University.

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