Dr John Radcliffe
This chapter focuses on the life and works of Dr John Radcliffe. Medical practice in the seventeenth century was essentially a craft to be acquired by close study of the work of an adept. Formal qualifications were an ornamental addition to, rather than a functional part of, a medical practitioner's professional equipment. Radcliffe's temperament, his bluff, commonsensical self-confidence, made him very much at home in such circumstances. Radcliffe was a product of Locke's Oxford, which was also the Oxford of Boyle and Christopher Wren, of Sydenham and Willis. The official intellectual life of the place was ossified. In Oxford, as everywhere else, the Protestant Reformation failed to supplant the philosophico-scientific system of knowledge associated with it. Locke was at one with Bacon and Hobbes and all the enquiring minds of the age in rejecting the despotic rule of Aristotelian scholasticism. In his own, comparatively inarticulate fashion, Radcliffe was part of this general movement away from a tradition of intellectual authority.
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