Two Cultures

William Bynum’s – The History of Medicine- a very short introduction-provides a general framework for understanding the history of medicine since the ancient Greeks established what can be called the Western medical tradition. He presents the history through a typology of the ‘kinds’ of medicine- namely- bedside, library, hospital, community, and laboratory, which represent different goals of doctors, as well as reflecting the differing sites in which they work.

Despite our modern information driven culture, surveys reveal that profound ignorance about health and science is widespread and worrisome. It has probably always been this way, and the physicist and novelist C.P.Snow’s critique of the ‘two cultures’ had resonance before he articulated it in 1959, and still does. Snow argued that most non-scientists are less informed about the main ideas of science than scientists are about those of general culture. Ignorance is everywhere, but ignorance of science and medicine particularly so.



The book gives valuable insights into the works of great physicians, and also a history of the evolution of ideas.

For the sake of 21st century medicine, we reflected on the following passage on the organizational aspect of hospital management.

The organizational side of hospital management has increasingly adopted business models. Early in the 20th century, American hospital administrators deliberately looked to modes of industrial production to inspire their drive for greater efficiency. Throughput, cost-cutting, and offering the client decent value for money made sense to administrators concerned with running their institutions at a profit. In Europe, most hospitals were still charitable institutions, but the same values could easily permeate, since budgets were invariably tight, and the main feture of all hospitals during the past century and a half is that of spiraling costs. In the clash between medical and economic values, the latter often dominate , no matter what the ultimate source of funding.

Discussion point:

Being doctors from different schools of medicine, from different countries, there was an interesting exchange of opinions and experiences. In the current scenarios of medicine in Tripoli region, the lack of many companies, the collapse of Oil sector, and the uncertainty of insurances, all add to the dynamics in which we practice medicine.

Talking to doctors in the Public hospitals, the settings of supply chains, security, came into sharp focus.

A look at some important landmarks

The reading discussion group uses the framework of trying to discuss some important figures in the history of evolution of ideas of medicine.

This was part of the wall magazine of the Imaging departments in Tripoli.

A copy of the wall magazine bulletin with notes from the clinical histopathological, to the different technological aspects of dementia can be got by clicking on the link below

Emil Kraepelin, then the dean of German psychiatry , who was engaged in a fierce scientific battle with Sigmund Freud and Freud’s psycholiterary  theories of mental illness was greatly interested in the findings of Dr.Alois Alzheimer

Wall Magazine Feb 2015 1 AD

(note-intended mainly for Medical professionals)

The following three figures who have impacted Modern medicine were discussed.



Action point:

Discuss three important works which influenced your field of work.





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