Medicine before Science: The Business of Medicine from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment

By Roger French | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1

Hippocrates and the philosophers

MEDICAL WISDOM

When the medieval doctor looked into the past for the beginnings of his own profession, what he found was the figure of Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine in the medical tradition from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment. Modern scholarship has not revealed much about the historical Hippocrates or which of the 'Hippocratic' works were written by him, 1 but the medieval doctor felt more secure in his knowledge. The Hippocratic works gave hima number of things. There was technical advice in a practical subject, which told him what to do and what to expect. For instance, the corpus includes works that explain how to reduce dislocations and how to bandage wounds. 2 The Hippocratic works were also valuable because they were Hippocratic, that is, ancient and authoritative in an age that revered antiquity. These first two chapters are not directly concerned with the first of these aspects of antiquity, the technical content of Greek medicine and philosophy. They are not, that is, a background to or an early history of a professional activity developed during the Middle Ages and beyond. Rather, they present an image of the medieval and later perception of antiquity, a construction (however false in our historical terms) within the

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1
Hippocrates was mentioned by Aristotle and Plato who says (Protagoras 311b) that he taught medicine for a fee. In the Phaedrus (270a) the Platonic Socrates argues that rhetoric is like medicine, for they define the nature of the soul and the body respectively; Hippocrates 'the Asclepiad' is credited with the declaration that the body can be understood only as a whole. Biographies of Hippocrates were written by Soranus and Suidas. Tradition has it that he was born in 460 BC. Most of the works attributed to Hippocrates were written between 430 and 330 BC, and some later. See G. E. R. Lloyd, ed., Hippocratic Writings, Harmondsworth (Pelican Classics), 1978, p. 9 and W. H. S. Jones' general introduction in vol. 1 of the Loeb Library series (see note 2 below). For a recent account of the historical Hippocrates and the corpus, see Jacques Jouanna, Hippocrates, trans. M. B. DeBevoise, Baltimore (The Johns Hopkins University Press), 1999 (first published as Hippocrate in 1992).
2
The Greek text of the Hippocratic works, with an English translation by W. H. S. Jones and E. T. Withington, may be found conveniently in the Loeb Library series: Hippocrates (vols. I—IV), London (Heinemann) and Cambridge, Mass. (Harvard University Press), 1962—8.

-9-

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Medicine before Science: The Business of Medicine from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Medicine Before Science *
  • Medicine Before Science - The Business of Medicine from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment *
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Sources *
  • Chapter 1 - Hippocrates and the Philosophers 9
  • Chapter 2 - Galen 34
  • Part II - The Latin Tradition *
  • Chapter 3 - Medieval Schools 59
  • Chapter 4 - Scholastic Medicine 88
  • Chapter 5 - The Weakening of the Latin Tradition 127
  • Part III - The Crisis *
  • Chapter 6 - The Crisis of Theory 157
  • Chapter 7 - Resolutions 185
  • Chapter 8 - Enlightenment, Systems and Science 222
  • Select Bibliography 260
  • Index 270
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