Talk:William Harvey

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Historical questions, worth finding some comment on: Did Harvey rediscover, know about and extend, plagiarize, or simply verify and promote the work of Ibn Nafis? And why was it ignored in the first place, when Ibn Sina and Rhazes were well known and respected? Was this because the Europeans preferred quoting Galen to acknowledging a seemingly-unimportant detail about the human body had been discovered during their "Dark Ages" by "heathens"? Like, it was a case where the difference in attitude to knowledge between Islam and Christianity had been so obvious, and the information was not diagnostically indispensible like that of Avicenna or Rhazes, so... they hid it... Harvey's experience suggests that the bias against this particular theory was strong, so it may not have been a bias against Muslim knowledge.... Okay, this was answered 30 years later.

Perhaps due credit should be given to Mateo Realdo Colombo who, indeed, gave a accurate and complete description of the pulmonary circulation AND was quoted by Harvey as a source for his own theories.\---- i think that in some way it should be clarified that the work of Ibn Nafis was not known in the West until the 20th Century. at the time that Harvey was writing D.M.C, the "ancient" medical texts available were not the same as owhat we have at our disposal today. Recall that most of the literature that we attribute to Galen was not available until the 20th Century either, although we still accept that "Galenism" was the main body of knowledge back then.

another point: despite the efforts of modern physiologists, scientists, and vivisectionists (yikes!), W. Harvey wrote a 'philosophical treatise'. He did not use "scientific" methods, i am pretty sure that in D.M.C he describes his method specifically as "that of the anatomists". We should avoid associating Harvey with "science" as we understand it. He had intended to prove that the heart was the organ associated with the life-force (as aristotle believed) and not the brain (as Galen and Plato held).

Credit should not be attributed to either Servetus or Realdo Colombo. While both described the pulmonary transit of the blood from the right ventricle to the left before Harvey, the idea of the "lesser circulation" does not imply the cyclic nature of blood flow. In the article I would argue that the mention of both Ibn Sina and Servetus is miss leading as to the nature and scope of Harvey's observations and theories. A qualification should be made that while a number of thinker predated Harvey in some of his ideas, none presented the comprehensive view of the circulatory system that Harvey did, along with the proofs necessary to overcome critics. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Lorezapocalypse (talkcontribs) 03:35, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

Quote from Hobbes[edit]

Basically states Harvey is the only man to have his theories accepted during his lifetime. Not the contrary, which was previously stated on the page. Basically the circulatory model of the cardiovascular system was accepted completely within 30 years.

-Other interesting factoids that I frankly don't have time to write up are are about his involvement in the royalist side of the english revolution, the destruction of the original De Motu Cordis and apparently interesting descriptions of him in Thomas Aubrey's "Brief Times"

Disambiguation Needed[edit]

William Harvey is also a notable CIA agent in the 1950s and 1960s.

Wow! Now that's longevity! studerby 04:41, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Harvey's motto[edit]

There is no evidence of a motto that was used by William Harvey''


A section on the Aristotlean views of Harvey, and how they related to Galenism should be included to demonstrate the duality of the argument for the progressive status of the discovery of circulation at this place and time (being of the New Science or of the Ancient Philosophy). Lita4sm 10:03, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

William Harvey Hospital[edit]

There is indeed a hospital in Ashford called the William Harvey Hospital, but the comment doesn't really sit very well where it is, nor is the rest of the comment correct - Folkestone HAS a hospital (the Royal Victoria Hospital - and even if it didn't, the Buckland Hospital ( is nearer. That's not really relevant though - is anyone able to make more of a point about the William Harvey Hospital and maybe some detail on whether it's simply named after him or there's more to it than that?

There is also a block in Chelmsford Anglia Ruskin uniersity named after William Harvey where they train nurses with brilliant technology and dummies that talk.

Harvey and Descartes[edit]

Where is the evidence that Harvey developed the ideas of Descartes?

It is the other way round. Harvey's On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals was written in 1628, and was published years after he began expounding the theory. According to Wikipedia, The Description of the Human Body was written in the 1640s.

Also, Descartes cites William Harvey in Part 5 of the Discourse on Method, as 'an English doctor' whom he borrows proof from. Descartes even borrows Harvey's mistake (that the function of the heart is to heat the blood).dummy dum dum<3

Harvey's medical degree[edit]

Although Harvey studied at the medical school in Padua, didn't he actually get his MD from the College of Physicians in Venice? NRPanikker 20:33, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

Actually he didn't. I must have been thinking of someone else. About twenty years ago the Royal College of Physicians of London reproduced (as a Christmas card) the first two pages of William Harvey's Latin diploma of "Doctor of Arts and Medicine" awarded by the University of Padua on 25th April 1602. NRPanikker (talk) 01:58, 12 December 2007 (UTC)


I've removed the link in the See Also section that directed users to the Medical Renaissance page because it stated that Harvey was inspired by water pumps in coming up with his idea of circulation of the blood. The source sighted on the Medical Renaissance page was a study guild game design for British school children that did not cite were it got this information. I believe the thinking behind this assertion is that water pumps were installed in London at the same time as Harvey was living there, hence might have the inspiration. In my research of Harvey's discovery I have found no indication that this is anything but speculation. Lorezapocalypse (talk) 20:18, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

* I added the Medical Renaissance link back because you seemed to have corrected the page in question. - Astrochemist (talk) 22:24, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The section on the circulation of the blood is unsourced. This article therefore does not qualify for B-class status. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:14, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

Black or jewish?[edit]

Since genetic testing has found that William Harvey had Y-DNA haplogroup E1b1b1 that means he had a non-european paternal ancestor. So what ethnic group did that ancestor come from? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:31, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

Proposed Recasting ( Dec. 2009 )[edit]

Hello everyone!

I've recently read two-three books that contain information regarding the life of William Harvey; thus,I would like to make some major modifications to his page. Having read all the instructions, I was told to start a discussion about my plans so as to avoid any problems with the initial creator of the page.

Here is how I plan to organize William Harvey's page:

2.1 Early life and the University of Padua
2.2 The College of Physicians, Marriage and Saint. Bartholomew's Hospital.
2.3 Lumleian Lecturer
2.4 Physician to James I and consequent apex of Harvey's life
2.5 Excursions abroad, Election as Physician to Charles I and the English Civil War
2.6 Harvey's later years, death and burial
3. HARVEY'S RENOWNED WORK: " De Motu Cordis "

My work is exactly 5,704 words-long; it contains several citations from the biography " William Harvey " by Sir D'Arcy Power and information from " The Evolution of Modern Medicine" by William Osler.

I decided to undertake the modification of this page as an assignment for my History of Medicine class in my university, the Campus Bio-Medico of Rome. Consequently, I would simply like to assure all present that my work is totally honest and certified with 110% of my efforts alone. ( My grade depends on it :P )

Please, if anyone has any suggestions or problems....tell me. I am well aware of the importance of Wikipedia and am open to any discussion whatsoever.

Please, reply soon.

Rrocco (talk) 10:59, 20 December 2009 (UTC)


I stopped by this page for some help on a school project, and while I think a lot of what's here now is good material and was helpful to me, the tone is way off. First person pronouns ("Furthermore, we can say that in all probability young Harvey must have witnessed..."), subjective language (references to his "masterpiece" and an "astonishing discovery"), and unusual self-referentiality ("A small part of this section must also be used to make a final allusion to...") It's all good stuff, but it's not appropriate per Wikipedia's style guide. Dirk Amoeba (talk) 04:34, 8 February 2010 (UTC)

I agree. It reads like a compendium of someone's personal research, not an encyclopedia article. An anon reverted the "tone" tag; I'm restoring it. Studerby (talk) 19:11, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
I reviewed history, and the tone issues came in in late December 2009. I'm reverting to a version immediately prior. While the additions of late December added some good auxiliary material, it needs substantial rewriting for tone. Studerby (talk) 19:17, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
First of all i would like to thank you all; this was my first time writing an article for wikipedia and apparently some more work needs to be done. However, due to the fact that i spent so much time on it, would it be possible to cooperate and reach an agreement together? I agree that my work contains several allusions to subjective language: nevertheless i believe that the mere quantity of information should allow it to remain. Would it be ok if, with your suggestions ( apart from the ones by Dirk Amoeba to which i will immediately attend), we can improve the article? --Rrocco (talk) 21:42, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Tone changes definitely have to be made; however, having used this article as well for my school project and understanding 100% of it, i don't see why it should be removed. The overall information is excellent and precise....--RedCat69 (talk) 22:22, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

Thanks —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rrocco (talkcontribs) 21:41, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

I've partially cleaned up the article, mainly editing for tone. Please keep in mind that this is an encyclopedia article, not a personal essay or biographical story. Most contextual descriptions should be omitted. Only properly sourced opinions should be included.

Do not use WP:PEACOCK terms, except in quotes or with reliable sources. Even with reliable sources, it should be clear in the text that the source originated the term. For example: (Bad) Harvey was the coolest dude in the court of King Charles (Good) Lord Whathisname described Harvey as the coolest dude in the court of King Charles. (Better) Lord Whathisname wrote in his personal diary "Harvey hath no peer for coolness, not even amongst all the King's lords and councilors". The latter form lets the reader better evaluate the meaning of the claim for himself; it's one thing to have an opinion written by a peer, another by an historical expert, one thing for it to be in contemporaneous personal accounts and another in modern scholarly analysis.

The core tone problem is that the facts (and quotes) should be speaking for themselves. For example, it's an editorial opinion that a quote needs no further comment, an opinion that shouldn't be in the article. Many such opinions were excised in my cleanup edit.

Also keep in mind that most of the articles readers will not read the whole thing; each section needs to stand on its own.

I'll check in on the article again in a few days. Studerby (talk) 21:07, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

By the way, Rrocco, please take a look at the over-linking guideline. Studerby (talk) 21:09, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Erm, thanks Studerby.... i now realize what you meant by Tone and general usage of superflous language. I would really like to thank you for your help; please do you have any more advice? Any particular passage that does not fit Wikipedia's overall standards?

PS. I looked at your modified version of my article; again, i thank you and i realize that all of you were right, but don't you think that some important information has been removed? ( For example, why William Harvey entered the university of Padua, what his lectures consisted of etc? ) Is there a way to leave that information in with some further tone modifications that i could apply? Please reply soon, cheers--Rrocco (talk) 22:27, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

The first to describe systemic circulation? 400 years after Ibn al Nafis?[edit]

Is this statement not outright false that Harvey "was the first to describe correctly and in detail the systemic circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the body by the heart?" It should be amended to say that he was the first Western European or first Christian European to describe that because Ibn al-Nafis described the same 400 years before Harvey, and I am pretty sure Ibn al-Nafis' work would have been known in Muslim Spain as opposed to the rest of the Europe. User:Waqas.usman (Talk) 05:48, 28 November 2010 (UTC)

Yes, an IP inserted a section on him into this article. That would not be appropriate, since the article is about Harvey. If you can bring reliable sources to the issue, an article on Ibn al-Nafis would be an interesting addition. Regarding who was first, in order to avoid WP:SYNTH, we'll need a reliable source that compares them directly. Can you point us to some sources? --Nuujinn (talk) 13:16, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
Given that there were 400 years between them, I don't think the debate would be about who was first, but whether their works were significantly similar. Darguz Parsilvan (talk) 13:14, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes. I should have gotten back to this, but having read the article on Ibn al-Nafis, I think we're in good shape with Waqas.usman's edit of the lead. --Nuujinn (talk) 13:54, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
This should not be glued into the lede with no meaningful discussion in the article body. Ibn al-Nafis does not remotely "describe correctly and in detail the systemic circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the body by the heart?" He provides comments on preexisting models with no anatomical detail. He seems to argue that blood moves from the heart to the lungs, where it mixes with air, and then back to the heart, from which it spreads to the rest of the body. That appears to be an account of pulmonary circulation, but not exactly detailed and accurate. And since pulmonary circulation was known before Harvey anyway, it has no relevance to his particular discoveries. Paul B (talk) 22:17, 10 September 2012 (UTC)

Quote on the word blood[edit]

Harvey further stated:
"We are too much in habit of worshiping names to the neglect of things. The word 'blood' has nothing of grandiloquence about it, for it signifies a substance which we have before our eyes and can touch..."[1]

Interesting quotes, but it doesn't seem relevant to the section on views of circulation before Harvey, so I removed it. Did it originally have a spot with more context? Jer ome (talk) 18:32, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

Theory of generation, ex ovo omnia[edit]

In 1651 Harvey proposed a theory of generation which stressed the importance of the egg in mammals. Ex ovo omnia See Preformationism CrocodilesAreForWimps (talk) 22:07, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

The Miguel Servet precedent[edit]

The subject is described elsewhere, but in what concerns the lesser circle blood flow and the function of lungs, it may deserve being described here, as a matter of controversy. M Servet, also known as Michaelus Servetus and Michel de Villeneuve, born in Villanueva de la Sigena, (Huesca, Spain), approximately in September 29, 1509 to 1511, was a scientist and theologian, that died in Genève, Switzerland, October 27, 1953, when the Calvinists send him to the fire as punishment for writing an heretical work on the Holy Trinity. In his work "Christianismi Restitutio", Book V, that he send to Jean Calvin for review around 1546, M Servet described that: "Blood is send by pulmonary artery to pulmonary vein by a prolonged pass through the lungs, during which it changes to red color and gets rid of the sooty vapors by the act of breathing". He may be one of the precursors of William Harvey, but there are so many that talked about lesser circle before W Harvey that the W Harvey's primacy in this discovery may be considered "Cloudy".--Jgrosay (talk) 13:27, 21 December 2012 (UTC)

He is, as it was demonstrated in the last International Congress for the HIstory of Medicine. Harvey described whole circulation. But the first european to publish it, was Michael Servetus. It was discovered independently from Ibn al Nafis, but from Galen theories, from his teachers Andernach and Sylvius. So I do not see any " cloudy" issue. harvey did not discover Pulmonary circulation, but he basically discovered anything else on Circulation. Vesalius, Colombo and so, talked some years after Michael would have published the work. So when it comes to Pulmonary circulation data is clear. Ibn Al nafis firstly described it, Michael rediscovered it through Galenic theory, and later Colombo, Vesalius and the rest descrived it again. No one wished to cloud anything. Harvey is the Master of Blood circulation. And Vesalius the Best anatomis of his time, and Colombo and the rest , are great by themseves in other areas, but when it comes to pulmonary circulation, it is for both Ibn al Nafis, and independently, Servetus. I recommend Michael Servetus's Galenism and the discovery of Lesser circulation peer reviewed communication in the International Society for the History of Medicine,with the demonstation of Servetus's discovery in 1553, but even from the Manuscript of Paris. -Bo Palace, by the Spanish Delegate, foremost expert on Servetus, discoverer of the ten new works, his true name, and his Converso heritage.(It is his website)--Balaster32 (talk) 21:38, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
    • ^ William Harvey, by Sir D'Arcy Power. (Page 192)