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

By James Longrigg | Go to book overview

5

Post-Hippocratic medicine I

Medicine and the Academy

Nam quae demum causae vel secundam valetudinem praestant, vel morbos excitent…ne sapientiae quidem professores scientia comprehendunt, sed coniectura persecuntur.

(Celsus, De medicina, Proem, 46)

The author of the Hippocratic treatise De vetere medicina, as was seen above (Chapter 4), clearly recognised the dangers to the development of medicine inherent in the attempt to base medical theory upon philosophical hypotheses. Notwithstanding his vigorous polemic against this intrusion, however, the practice continued unabated and philosophy continued, for good and ill, to exercise a dominant influence upon medicine. The Hippocratic author presciently singled out Empedocles for especial condemnation as a representative of this reprehensible procedure, and, as we shall now see, it was the medical and biological theories based directly upon or, at least, formulated in accordance with the latter’s philosophical postulate that exercised the greatest influence upon the subsequent history of rational Greek medicine.

While Wellmann describes Empedocles as the ‘founder of the Sicilian school of medicine’, 1 Burnet goes even further and claims that Galen actually made Empedocles the ‘founder of the Italian school of medicine’ and speaks of it as ‘still living in the days of Plato’. 2 But neither Galen, nor any other ancient authority specifically states this. The passage of Galen cited by Burnet does not, as he believes, support his claim either that such a ‘school’ existed or that Empedocles was its founder. Galen merely tells us here (De methodo medendi 1, 1 X5K.):

In former times there was great rivalry between the doctors

-104-

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Greek Rational Medicine: Philosophy and Medicine from Alcmaeon to the Alexandrians
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface viii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Pre-Rational and Irrational Medicine in Greece and Neighbouring Cultures 6
  • 2 - Ionian Natural Philosophy and the Origins of Rational Medicine 26
  • 3 - Philosophy and Medicine in the Fifth Century I 47
  • 4 - Philosophy and Medicine in the Fifth Century II 82
  • 5 - Post-Hippocratic Medicine I 104
  • 6 - Post-Hippocratic Medicine II 149
  • 7 - Early Alexandrian Medical Science 177
  • Appendix 220
  • Notes 227
  • Bibliography 260
  • Index Locorum 278
  • General Index 287
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