1692 – 1757
Who was George Young?
George Young was an Edinburgh surgeon, physician, philosopher and empiric. As a young man he was a member of the Rankenian Club, a group of intellectuals who were to go on to become some of the most influential figures of the Scottish Enlightenment. Young's lecture notes give a clear account of contemporary medical and surgical practice and are characterised by the empirical approach to the advancement of medical knowledge, especially in the evolving understanding of nerve and muscle function. His Treatise on Opium was a practical guide for physicians in the use of the drug which emphsises its complications. It was the longest, most balanced and most comprehensive English language account written yet written. Young's legacy is also apparent in the work of his pupil Robert Whytt and his surgical apprentice James Hill. Young had taught both the value of repeated observation and a sceptical approach to prevailing dogma. Whytt was to advance knowledge of nerve and muscle function while Hill went on to make important contributions to the understanding and management of head injury.
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