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The evolution of thought and thinking made possible the remarkable development in medicine. Starting with the period of Enlightenment that flourished between the years 1740–1830, a new creative spirit entered science, during which ‘reason’ itself was emphasised. This so-called ‘age of rationalism’ triggered innovation and produced a scientific revolution. The novel idea of interpreting nature by means of reason gave a new perspective on natural phenomena. Such a radically new mental climate sowed ideas that led to a fundamental transformation not only of thought, but also of ways of thinking. A short survey with its key persons is given especially for the general and surgical pathology.