By Roger French

This booklet is an creation to the historical past of university-trained physicians from the center a while to the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. whereas thought of elite (in acceptance and rewards) and profitable, we all know little in their medical effectiveness. to trendy eyes their concept and perform frequently turns out weird and wonderful. yet ancient facts unearths that they have been judged on different standards, and this e-book asserts that those physicians helped to build and meet the expectancies of society.

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

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104. Hippocrates and the philosophers 33 modern scholarship – and there has been a mass of it – has revealed, and it must again be emphasised here that this chapter is not a history of Greek medicine in a chronological and inclusive sense. Medieval doctors knew of Herophilus and Erasistratus by reputation only, but it was a potent one. They knew Aristotle at first partly in incomplete versions of his works that had passed through perhaps three languages. The more oracular Hippocratic writings needed constant interpretation.

Such anatomy as it contained was incidental rather than fundamental. For Aristotle, on the other hand, anatomy was fundamental, for true knowledge of the parts of animals was gained through a knowledge of their function, which their shape indicated. The organs could not be otherwise in order to perform their function. We saw that Aristotle made dissections and vivisections to study form and function. But Aristotle’s interest was philosophical, not medical. His subjects were animals, not men. 38 38 Historia Animalium 494b21–24.

Indeed, the two Greek doctors may have discovered something quite unexpected, the central nervous system. controlling centres The Greek notion of the superiority of thought over intractable matter is a commonplace of histories of philosophy. In the case of the human body it was associated with the belief that there must be a special entity that gave life to and directed the body. At different times different philosophers held that there were souls or spirits providing the body with one or more of the features of life.

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