Download Death Defied: The Anatomy Lessons of Frederik Ruysch by Luuc Kooijmans. Translated by Diane Webb PDF

By Luuc Kooijmans. Translated by Diane Webb

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Additional info for Death Defied: The Anatomy Lessons of Frederik Ruysch

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Just five months after passing it, he announced his intention to marry. His eldest brother, Hendrik, and his three sisters had preceded him to the altar. Thirty-one-year-old Hendrik Ruysch had meanwhile assumed the office he had inherited from his father and had married Weijna Vignois, the daughter of a bailiff who also worked for the Hague authorities. Two years later his sister Pieternel married Weijna’s brother, Jan Vignois. The Vignois family, who belonged to the bureaucratic circles in which the Ruysch family had moved for seventy years, likewise had connections to the stadholder’s court.

They argued that what was true for dogs did not necessarily apply to humans, and that the condition of dying animals was an unnatural state. As yet no one had formulated a theory to explain this new vascular system, as Harvey had done to describe the circulation of the blood. Galen had been unaware of its existence, so there was no classical theory on which to base assumptions. Unlike blood, lymphatic fluid was not pumped, so it was unclear how it flowed and even less clear what its function was.

30 To be sure, there had always been hesitation and even some resistance to the practice of vivisection. As far back as antiquity and the Middle Ages, unnecessary cruelty to animals had been condemned, usually not out of compassion for the animals, but because of the evil influence it was thought to have on the human character. It was vital, of course, to define the point at which cruelty became unacceptable. Naturalists were frequently squeamish about tormenting animals, but they could overcome their qualms by telling themselves that their experiments would, in the end, improve the human condition.

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