Volker Hess

The pathological in the age of normalisation: the case of fever measurement

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This article focuses on the introduction of fever measurements in the mid-nineteenth century and the consequences for understanding diseases caused by translating words into numbers. Starting with critiques of disease entities in German medicine from the 1840s, this study shows how measurement eliminated the traditional qualities of fevers and reduced the myriad of fever diseases to the symptom of high body temperature. It also discusses the relation between the clinical use of fever curves and the physiological methods of curves. Using the philosophical framework of Canguilhem's study on the normal and the pathological, it ends by following the historical and epistemological pathway by which disease entities were re-established with the methods of curves.

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