In Medicine, Society, and Faith in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds Darrel Amundsen explores the disputed boundaries of medicine and Christianity by focusing on the principle of the sanctity of human life, including the duty to treat or attempt to sustain the life of the ill. As he examines his themes and moves from text to context, Amundsen clarifies a number of Christian principles in relation to bioethical issues that are hotly debated today. In his examination of the moral (...) stance of the earliest syphilographers, for example, he finds insights into the ethical issues surrounding the treatment of AIDS, which he believes has its closest historical antecedent not in plague but in syphilis. He also shows that the belief that all healing comes from God, whether directly, through prayer, or through the use of medicine -- a sentiment commonly held by contemporary Christians -- cannot be accurately attributed to any extant source from the patristic period. Indeed, all the Church Fathers were convinced that healing sometimes came from evil sources: Satan and his demons were able to heal, for example, and Asclepius was a demon "to be taken very seriously indeed.". (shrink)
When trying to understand the medical profession, one instinctively looks at its history. Questions come to mind, such as when did it start, and who was the first physician? A practice of healing seems to be as old as the mankind (Majno 1975), so it is unlikely that one will ever find the exact answers. However, when searching for the first known physician, we come to ancient Egypt and one of Egypt’s first rulers, Athothis. In a third-century BCE history (...) of Egypt, written by an Egyptian priest, Manetho (1940), there is a passage about a ruler of the First Dynasty: “Athothis . . . built the palace at Memphis, and his anatomical works are extant, for he was a physician” (or, in another preserved version .. (shrink)
This work brings together Philip van der Eijk's previously-published essays on the close connections that existed between medicine and philosophy throughout antiquity. Medical authors such as the Hippocratic writers, Diocles, Galen, Soranus and Caelius Aurelianus elaborated on philosophical methods such as causal explanation, definition and division and applied key concepts such as the notion of nature to their understanding of the human body. Similarly, philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle were highly valued for their contributions to medicine. This interaction was (...) particularly striking in the study of the human soul in its relation to the body, as illustrated by approaches to specific topics such as intellect, sleep and dreams, and diet and drugs. With a detailed introduction surveying the subject as a whole and a new essay on Aristotle's treatment of sleep, this wide-ranging and accessible collection is essential reading for the student of ancient philosophy and science. (shrink)
Humoralism, the view that the human body is composed of a limited number of elementary fluids, is one of the most characteristic aspects of ancient medicine. The psychological dimension of humoral theory in the ancient world has thus far received a relatively small amount of scholarly attention. Medical psychology in the ancient world can only be correctly understood by relating it to psychological thought in other fields, such as ethics and rhetoric. The concept that ties these various (...) domains together is character (êthos), which involves a view of human beings focused on clearly distinguishable psychological types that can be recognized on the basis of external signs. Psychological ideas based on humoral theory remained influential well into the early modern period. Yet, in 17th-century medicine and philosophy, humoral physiology and psychology started to lose ground to other theoretical perspectives on the mind and its relation to the body. This decline of humoralist medical psychology can be related to a broader reorientation of psychological thought in which the traditional concept of character lost its central position. Instead of the focus on types and stable character traits, a perspective emerged that was primarily concerned with individuality and transient passions. (shrink)
This original and lively book uses texts from ancient medicine, epic, lyric, tragedy, historiography, philosophy, and religion to explore the influence of Greek ideas on health and disease on Greek thought. Fundamental issues are deeply implicated: causation and responsibility, purification and pollution, the mind-body relationship and gender differences, authority and the expert, reality and appearances, good government, and good and evil themselves.