You searched for: “vivisection
1. The process of operating on living animals; especially, in scientific research.
2. To dissect a live animal, by observing the functioning body systems; such as, to observe the effects of certain stimulants or depressants on a beating heart.

The animal is rendered unconscious before the vivisection is done.

3. The act or practice of cutting into, or otherwise injuring, living animals; especially, for the purpose of scientific research.

Vivisection from the historical perspective

Defined literally the word vivisection signifies the dissection of living creatures; ordinarily it means any scientific experiment on animals involving the use of the scalpel.

  • The literal dissection of living animals is not practiced anywhere, because it is much more convenient to study the structure of man's body in the cadaver.
  • According to Aulus Cornelius Celsus, who lived in the reign of Tiberius, and Tertullian (about 160-240) living criminals were dismembered at Alexandria in the reigns of Ptolemy II (285-247 B.C.) and Ptolemy III (247-221 B.C.).
  • The same act was maliciously attributed to Jacobus Berengarius, Andreas Vesalius, and Gabriel Fallopius, celebrated anatomists of the sixteenth century.
  • The history of scientific observation of, and experimentation upon animals, both bloodless and bloody, began at the moment when it was perceived that the processes of nature could be discovered only by the exact observation of nature and not by philosophical methods.
  • For physiological and pathological research experimentation with animals is an indispensable aid, while for medical science it is of significant value.
  • Such procedures give a view of the working processes of the living organism, permits us to produce diseases artificially, and to investigate the organic changes produced by these diseases in each stage of their course.
  • Before William Harvey (1578-1657) could announce his discovery of the circulation of the blood, he was obliged, as he confesses, to make for years innumerable vivisections of animals of all kinds, because he could investigate the mechanism of the circulation only in the living animal.
  • He was able to reach the conclusion that the arteries which are empty in the corpse are filled with blood during life and not with air, as was believed until then.

—Clips based on information from
Senfelder, Leopold. "Moral Aspect of Vivisection." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15.
New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912.

Much more information of interest about this topic may be seen at

This entry is located in the following units: sec-, seg-, -sect, -section, -sectional (page 5) -tion (page 21) viva-, vivi-, vivo-, viv- (page 7)