How confident science becomes upon the strength of some slight success in the war of man with nature, and how much inclined to put itself in the place of Providence.

Great_plague_of_london-1665

Pike specifically discusses the great plague and how science had become overconfident with its successes, “how confident science becomes upon the strength of some slight success in the war of man with nature, and how much inclined to put itself in the place of Providence.” Enjoy my friends:

In other matters relative to human safety and interests we have observed how confident science becomes upon the strength of some slight success in the war of man with nature, and how much inclined to put itself in the place of Providence, which, by the very force of the term, is the only absolute science. Near the beginning of this century, for instance, medical and sanitary science had made, in the course of a few years, great and wonderful progress. The great plague which wasted Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and reappeared in the seventeenth, had been identified with a disease which yields to enlightened treatment, and its ancient virulence was attributed to ignorance of hygiene, and the filthy habits of a former age. Another fatal and disfiguring scourge had to a great extent been checked by the discovery of vaccination. From Sangrado to Sydenham, from Paracelsus to Jenner, the healing art had indeed taken a long stride. The Faculty might be excused had it then said, “Man is mortal, disease will be often fatal; but there shall be no more unresisted and unnecessary slaughter by infectious disease, no more general carnage, no more carnivals of terror and high festivals of death.”

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