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Am J Kidney Dis. 2011 May;57(5):788-98. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2011.01.021. Epub 2011 Mar 21.

Nephrological excerpts from the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d'Alembert.

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  • 1First Chair of Nephrology, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy; Italian Institute for Philosophical Studies, Naples, Italy. nataleg.desanto@unina2.it

Abstract

The Encyclopédie of Denis Diderot (1713-1784) and Jean-Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert (1717-1783), a 35-volume work published between 1751 and 1780, is the most representative work of the Enlightenment in France. Written to explain truths based on experiment, detected by the senses, and analyzed by reason, it was meant to be an inclusive systematic dictionary of the sciences, arts, and crafts. Medicine, considered an experimental but practical science based on measurement, is not mentioned in the frontispiece, but is covered in the text based on the work of several illustrious scientists and clinicians of the period. The renal entries describe kidney structure and function, normal and pathologic urine, diabetes, anuria, polyuria, dysuria, stranguria, incontinence, kidney stones, edema, diuretics, and nephritis. The contributions of Marcello Malpighi (1628-1698), Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738), and Guichard-Joseph Duverney (1648-1730) are highlighted. Accompanying illustrations of unique perfection show the position of the kidneys according to Albrecht Haller (1708-1777); their innervation according to Raymond Vieussens (1641-1715); their structure according to Anton Nuck (1650-1692), Exupère Joseph Bertin (1712-1781), and Frederick Ruysch (1638-1731); and the genitourinary tract according to Duverney. Overall, the Encyclopédie provides a unique summary of what was known about kidney structure, function, and disease in the 18th century.

Copyright © 2011 National Kidney Foundation, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
21420773
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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