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Keats at Guy's Hospital

PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:04 pm
by Ravenwing

Re: Keats at Guy's Hospital

PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:58 am
by Saturn
I don't think you can look back from our modern perspective and call the people at Guy's and Keats 'villains', they did what they had to do within (and without) the law to obtain materials for their studies, many of which I am sure aided medical progress greatly. Guy's wasn't any worse or better than any other hospital in Britain, America, Europe or anywhere else in this regards. Religious and social customs at that time made dissection a very limited practise, insufficient for the number of students in the medical profession and they had to get bodies somehow. I don't think the students themselves would have participated in actions like that, but there were ways and means, most infamously, a bit later, the notorious Burke and Hare.
Of course I don't agree with grave robbing or anything like that, but looking back in history from our state of medical knowledge and damning those who've gone before and made breakthroughs in often very distasteful circumstances is a bit harsh I think.

Re: Keats at Guy's Hospital

PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 8:40 pm
by BrokenLyre
I do find that the medical training in Keats' day was ridiculous relative to our own day. However, they were pushing the boundaries in medical knowledge along with opening up a host of moral questions that really had not been adequately addressed prior to their specific medical advancements. I tend to agree with Saturn here - it's too convenient for us to look back and critique their scruples against a later age - our own - an age that has developed a thoughtful history of "medical ethics" but only in response to developing advancements in human biology and medical science.

But please notice the similarities with today's medical advancements: We too with our modern technology (cloning, gene sequencing, radiation developments, biological revolutions etc...) are opening up a host of moral questions that our parents never dreamed of! The point is that scientific achievements - pushing the knowledge of human biology specifically - always lead to new moral questions that naturally lag behind the achievements themselves. Technology is almost always ahead of moral considerations, unfortunately. The same problem existed in Keats' day. Keeping this in mind is helpful when evaluating historical episodes of scientific developments with concomitant moral issues that had to be worked out.