Greek Rational Medicine: Philosophy and Medicine from Alcmaeon to the Alexandrians

Greek Rational Medicine: Philosophy and Medicine from Alcmaeon to the Alexandrians

Greek Rational Medicine: Philosophy and Medicine from Alcmaeon to the Alexandrians

Greek Rational Medicine: Philosophy and Medicine from Alcmaeon to the Alexandrians

Synopsis

The ancient Greek medical thinkers were profoundly influenced by Ionian natural philosophy. This philosophy caused them to adopt a radically new attitude towards disease and healing. James Longrigg shows how their rational attitudes ultimately resulted in levels of sophistication largely unsurpassed until the Renaissance. He examines the important relationship between philosophy and medicine in ancient Greece and beyond, and reveals its significance for contemporary western practice and theory.

Excerpt

The Greeks invented rational medicine. In an effort to ensure that this outstanding achievement was accorded proper recognition within our classical curriculum at the University of Newcastle, I set up ten years or so ago a course on the history of Greek medicine. It is, I believe, the only one of its kind offered within classics departments in the United Kingdom. In teaching this course it soon became apparent that my students required some assistance in disentangling the highly complex relationship between philosophy and medicine in the classical period. This book has been written with the modest hope that it might prove to be of some assistance here. Since the majority of my students have little or no knowledge of classical Greek, I have also taken the opportunity to translate and quote at some length a good many passages from our original sources of evidence. Although, in this latter respect, it has been suggested that a choice of less familiar source material would enable me to invest this book with a greater degree of novelty, I decided, however, only selectively to follow this advice. My reasons for doing so are threefold. In the first place, some of the more familiar passages illustrate the points at issue far more effectively than any alternative would do. (This, after all, is largely why these texts are familiar.) Again, I thought it would seem rather perverse to seek to illustrate inter-relationships between philosophy and medicine without reference in detail to such texts as Ancient Medicine (De vetere medicina) and Sacred Disease (De morbo sacro). And, of course, not all who read this book (it is hoped) will be specialists in this subject.

Papers based upon research in progress for this work have been presented at the Wellcome Institute in London, and at the

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