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[Perspectives] The Great War’s new body

5 years after the end of World War 1, on Oct 18, 1923, the British physiologist Ernest Starling delivered the celebrated Harveian Oration before the Royal College of Physicians. He titled his speech The Wisdom of the Body, echoing Job 38:36, “Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts?” Starling thought his own achievements, from his early work on hormones to the law of the heart, led inexorably to the new picture of the body that he offered to his audience. He concluded optimistically that although “the ocean of the unknown still stretches far and wide in front of us”, nevertheless “we know the directions in which we would sail, and […] only labour is required to extend almost without limit our understanding of the human body and our control of its fate”.