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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index B > Hermann Boerhaave Quotes

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Hermann Boerhaave
(31 Dec 1668 - 23 Sep 1738)

Dutch physician, botanist and chemist , who has been called the “founder of clinical teaching.” He founded a hospital where he combined practice with clinical instruction, a method carried forward in modern medical education.


Science Quotes by Hermann Boerhaave (20 quotes)


Portrait of Herman Boerhaave by Cornelis Troost (1735) (source)
He who doth with the greatest exactness imaginable, weigh every individual thing that shall or hath hapned to his Patient, and may be known from the Observations of his own, or of others, and who afterwards compareth all these with one another, and puts them in an opposite view to such Things as happen in a healthy State; and lastly, from all this with the nicest and severest bridle upon his reasoning faculty riseth to the knowledge of the very first Cause of the Disease, and of the Remedies fit to remove them; He, and only He deserveth the Name of a true Physician.
— Hermann Boerhaave
Aphorism No. 13 in Boerhaave’s Aphorisms: Concerning The Knowledge and Cure of Diseases (1715), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Cause (231)  |  Disease (257)  |  Exactness (18)  |  Name (118)  |  Observation (418)  |  Patient (116)  |  Physician (232)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Remedy (46)  |  True (120)

Simplex sigillum veri.
Simplicity is the sign of truth.
— Hermann Boerhaave
Favorite motto. Inscription on a monument to Boerhaave at the church of St. Peter, Leyden, Holland. In 'Memoirs of Boerhaave', The Literary Magazine, and American Register (1 Sep 1807), 8, 67.
Science quotes on:  |  Sign (36)  |  Simplicity (126)  |  Truth (750)

A disease which new and obscure to you, Doctor, will be known only after death; and even then not without an autopsy will you examine it with exacting pains. But rare are those among the extremely busy clinicians who are willing or capable of doing this correctly.
— Hermann Boerhaave
In Atrocis, nee Descipti Prius, Morbi Historia as translated in Bulletin of the Medical Library Association (1944), 43, 217.
Science quotes on:  |  Autopsy (2)  |  Busy (21)  |  Capable (26)  |  Clinician (2)  |  Correct (53)  |  Death (270)  |  Disease (257)  |  Doctor (100)  |  Exacting (2)  |  Examine (24)  |  Known (15)  |  New (340)  |  Obscure (19)  |  Pain (82)  |  Rare (31)  |  Willing (6)

Chymistry. … An art whereby sensible bodies contained in vessels … are so changed, by means of certain instruments, and principally fire, that their several powers and virtues are thereby discovered, with a view to philosophy or medicine.
— Hermann Boerhaave
An antiquated definition, as quoted in Samuel Johnson, entry for 'Chymistry' in Dictionary of the English Language (1785). Also in The Quarterly Journal of Science, Literature, and the Arts (1821), 284, wherein a letter writer (only identified as “C”) points out that this definition still appeared in the, then, latest Rev. Mr. Todd’s Edition of Johnson’s Dictionary, and that it showed “very little improvement of scientific words.” The letter included examples of better definitions by Black and by Davy. (See their pages on this website.)
Science quotes on:  |  Art (205)  |  Body (193)  |  Change (291)  |  Contain (37)  |  Definition (152)  |  Discover (115)  |  Fire (117)  |  Instrument (73)  |  Means (109)  |  Medicine (322)  |  Philosophy (213)  |  Power (273)  |  Several (14)  |  Vessel (21)  |  Virtue (55)

For chemistry is no science form'd à priori; 'tis no production of the human mind, framed by reasoning and deduction: it took its rise from a number of experiments casually made, without any expectation of what follow'd; and was only reduced into an art or system, by collecting and comparing the effects of such unpremeditated experiments, and observing the uniform tendency thereof. So far, then, as a number of experimenters agree to establish any undoubted truth; so far they may be consider'd as constituting the theory of chemistry.
— Hermann Boerhaave
From 'The Author's Preface', in A New Method of Chemistry (1727), vi.
Science quotes on:  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Experiment (543)

Generation by male and female is a law common to animals and plants.
— Hermann Boerhaave
Preface to Louis Ferdinand Compte de Marsilli's Histoire Physique de la Mer (1725), ix.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (309)  |  Plant (173)  |  Reproduction (57)

He that desires to learn Truth should teach himself by Facts and Experiments; by which means he will learn more in a Year than by abstract reasoning in an Age.
— Hermann Boerhaave
In Academical Lectures on the Theory of Physic (1751), Vol. 1. As quoted in Thomas Steele Hall, A Source Book in Animal Biology (1951), 485.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstract (43)  |  Age (137)  |  Desire (101)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)  |  Learn (160)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Teach (102)  |  Truth (750)  |  Year (214)

He that would learn by experiments, ought to proceed from particulars to generals; but the method of instructing academically, proceeds from generals to particulars
— Hermann Boerhaave
As quoted in Thomas Steele Hall, A Source Book in Animal Biology (1951), 486.
Science quotes on:  |  Academic (12)  |  Experiment (543)  |  General (92)  |  Instruction (51)  |  Learning (174)  |  Method (154)  |  Particular (54)  |  Proceed (25)

If a Schirrus by long standing, increasing, and motion of the adjacent Parts is thus moved, that the neighbouring Vessels around its edges begin to inflame, it’s become malignant, and from its likeness to a Crab, is now called a Cancer, or Carcinoma.
— Hermann Boerhaave
Aphorism No. 492 in Boerhaave’s Aphorisms: Concerning The Knowledge and Cure of Diseases (1715), 113.
Science quotes on:  |  Cancer (44)  |  Carcinoma (3)  |  Crab (4)  |  Inflammation (5)  |  Malignant (2)  |  Nomenclature (129)

If Melancholy increases so far, that from the great motion of the Liquid of the Brain the Patient be thrown into a wild Fury, it is call’d Madness.… The greatest Remedy for it is to throw the Patient unwarily into the Sea, and to keep him under Water as long as he can possibly bear without being quite stifled.
— Hermann Boerhaave
Aphorism No. 1118 and 1123 in Boerhaave’s Aphorisms: Concerning The Knowledge and Cure of Diseases (1715), 302-303.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (181)  |  Depression (15)  |  Fury (5)  |  Greatest (53)  |  Liquid (25)  |  Madness (26)  |  Melancholy (8)  |  Motion (127)  |  Patient (116)  |  Remedy (46)  |  Sea (143)  |  Stifled (2)  |  Throw (31)  |  Water (244)  |  Wild (39)

If this fire determined by the sun, be received on the blackest known bodies, its heat will be long retain'd therein; and hence such bodies are the soonest and the strongest heated by the flame fire, as also the quickest dried, after having been moisten'd with water; and it may be added, that they also burn by much the readiest: all which points are confirm'd by daily observations. Let a piece of cloth be hung in the air, open to the sun, one part of it dyed black, another part of a white colour, others of scarlet, and diverse other colours; the black part will always be found to heat the most, and the quickest of all; and the others will each be found to heat more slowly, by how much they reflect the rays more strongly to the eye; thus the white will warm the slowest of them all, and next to that the red, and so of the rest in proportion, as their colour is brighter or weaker.
— Hermann Boerhaave
A New Method of Chemistry, 2nd edition (1741), 262.
Science quotes on:  |  Black Body (2)  |  Heat (90)  |  White (38)

In order to discover Truth in this manner by observation and reason, it is requisite we should fix on some principles whose certainty and effects are demonstrable to our senses, which may serve to explain the phenomena of natural bodies and account for the accidents that arise in them; such only are those which are purely material in the human body with mechanical and physical experiments … a physician may and ought to furnish himself with, and reason from, such things as are demonstrated to be true in anatomy, chemistry, and mechanics, with natural and experimental philosophy, provided he confines his reasoning within the bounds of truth and simple experiment.
— Hermann Boerhaave
As quoted in selection from the writings of Herman Boerhaave, collected in Oliver Joseph Thatcher (ed.), The Ideas that Have Influenced Civilization, in the Original Documents (1800), Vol. 6, 242.
Science quotes on:  |  Anatomy (59)  |  Bounds (5)  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Confine (9)  |  Demonstration (51)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Furnish (18)  |  Human Body (30)  |  Mechanical (31)  |  Natural Philosophy (21)  |  Observation (418)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Physical (94)  |  Physician (232)  |  Principle (228)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Sense (240)  |  Simple (111)  |  Truth (750)

It were indeed to be wish'd that our art had been less ingenious, in contriving means destructive to mankind; we mean those instruments of war, which were unknown to the ancients, and have made such havoc among the moderns. But as men have always been bent on seeking each other's destruction by continual wars; and as force, when brought against us, can only be repelled by force; the chief support of war, must, after money, be now sought in chemistry.
— Hermann Boerhaave
A New Method of Chemistry, 3rd edition (1753), Vol. I, trans. P. Shaw, 189-90.
Science quotes on:  |  Chemistry (239)  |  War (144)

Proper Experiments have always Truth to defend them; also Reasoning join’d with Mathematical Evidence, and founded upon Experiment, will hold equally true; but should it be true, without those Supports it must be altogether useless.
— Hermann Boerhaave
In Academical Lectures on the Theory of Physic (1751), Vol. 1. As quoted in Thomas Steele Hall, A Source Book in Animal Biology (1951), 485.
Science quotes on:  |  Defend (20)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Proper (27)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Support (63)  |  True (120)  |  Truth (750)  |  Useless (24)

The poor are my best patients. God pays for them.
— Hermann Boerhaave
As quoted, without citation, in John Walker, A Fork in the Road: Answers to Daily Dilemmas from the Teachings of Jesus Christ (2005), 94.
Science quotes on:  |  Best (129)  |  God (454)  |  Patient (116)  |  Pay (30)  |  Poor (46)

The venereal Disease first invaded the Spaniards and Italians, before the Efficacy of Mercury was known. … By the Use of Mercury, given with Discretion, so as to raise a Salivation; after the Use of which the whole Body, in a manner, seems to grow young again.
— Hermann Boerhaave
In Dr. Boerhaave's Academical Lectures on the Theory of Physic (1746), Vol. 6, 266-267.
Science quotes on:  |  Body (193)  |  Discretion (2)  |  Grow (66)  |  Italian (3)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Manner (35)  |  Mercury (39)  |  Raise (20)  |  Salivation (2)  |  Seem (89)  |  Spaniard (2)  |  Venereal Disease (2)  |  Young (72)

Though Hippocrates understood not the Circulation of the Blood, yet by accurately observing the Effects of the Disease, which he looked upon as an unknown Entity, and by remarking the Endeavours of Nature, by which the Disease tended to either Health or Recovery, did from thence deduce a proper Method of Cure, namely by assisting the salutary Endeavours of Nature, and by resisting those of the Disease; and thus Hippocrates, ignorant of the Causes, cured Disease as well as ourselves, stocked with so many Discoveries.
— Hermann Boerhaave
In Dr. Boerhaave's Academical Lectures on the Theory of Physic (1746), Vol. 6, 352.
Science quotes on:  |  Accurately (6)  |  Blood (95)  |  Cause (231)  |  Circulation (17)  |  Cure (88)  |  Deduce (8)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Disease (257)  |  Effect (133)  |  Endeavor (33)  |  Entity (23)  |  Health (136)  |  Hippocrates (49)  |  Ignorance (190)  |  Method (154)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Observing (2)  |  Proper (27)  |  Recovery (18)  |  Salutary (5)  |  Understanding (317)  |  Unknown (87)

To be always poring over the same Object, dulls the Intellects and tires the Mind, which is delighted and improved by a Variety: and therefore it ought, at times, to be relaxed from the more severe mathematical Contemplations, and to be employed upon something more light and agreeable, as Poetry, Physic, History, &c
— Hermann Boerhaave
In Dr. Boerhaave's Academical Lectures on the Theory of Physic (1746), Vol. 6, 264.
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What Doctor is there, who while he treats a disease unknown to him, might be at ease, until he had clearly perceived the nature of this disease and its hidden causes?
— Hermann Boerhaave
Science quotes on:  |  Cause (231)  |  Disease (257)  |  Doctor (100)  |  Hidden (34)  |  Medicine (322)

Whatever State of the Human Body doth disorder the Vital, the natural, or even the Animal Functions of the same is call’d a Disease.
— Hermann Boerhaave
Aphorism No. 1 in Boerhaave’s Aphorisms: Concerning The Knowledge and Cure of Diseases (1715), 1
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (309)  |  Disease (257)  |  Disorder (19)  |  Function (90)  |  Human Body (30)  |  Natural (128)  |  Same (92)  |  State (96)  |  Vital (32)



Quotes by others about Hermann Boerhaave (1)

I have lived myself to see the disciples of Hoffman, Boerhaave, Stalh, Cullen, Brown, succeed one another like the shifting figures of a magic lanthern, and their fancies, like the dresses of the annual doll-babies from Paris, becoming from their novelty, the vogue of the day, and yielding to the next novelty their ephemeral favor. The patient, treated on the fashionable theory, sometimes gets well in spite of the medicine.
In letter to Caspar Wistar (21 Jun 1807), collected in Thomas Jefferson Randolph (ed.), Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The Papers Of Thomas Jefferson (1829), Vol. 4, 93.
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  • 31 Dec - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Boerhaave's birth.

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