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Medicine and Philosophy in Classical Antiquity

Medicine and Philosophy in Classical Antiquity
Doctors and Philosophers on Nature, Soul, Health and Disease


  • Date Published: May 2005
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521818001

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About the Authors
  • 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 an essay on Aristotle's treatment of sleep, this wide-ranging and accessible collection is essential reading for the student of ancient philosophy and science.

    • Wide-ranging exploration of the interaction between medicine and philosophy in antiquity and of the main protagonists including Hippocrates, Plato and Galen
    • Contains an introduction surveying the whole topic and the history of modern approaches to it
    • Some chapters appear in English for the first time with all Greek and Latin translated
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    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the hardback: '… it reveals much that should be of interest to the modern physician. … the introduction offers by far the best and most up-to-date overview available, for specialists and nonspecialists alike, of the relation between ancient medicine and philosophy. And several of the essays provide highly accessible accounts of general issues that will be essential reading for anyone interested in the history of medicine and science in the ancient world.' The Lancet

    Review of the hardback: 'Not only is Eijk a superb scholar who writes on complex topics with a clarity and unambiguity that would send a shudder of revulsion down the spine of most literary critics, but he also has an eye for the contemporary resonance of ancient issues.' Journal of Classics Teaching

    Review of the hardback: '… even experts will welcome that these papers are now available in one volume … Van der Eijk's choice of the specific topics he deals with is such that each paper unravels yet another aspect of the interrelation between ancient medicine and philosophy … good, very solid, traditional scholarship … faithful to the principles of the new approach throughout this volume … it not only helps us to realise the richness of ancient medical texts, and in general of ancient thought, at the same time it provides us with the methodological tools to study them in such a way that the results are as rewarding as they can be.' Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

    Review of the hardback: '… closely researched … Philip Van der Eijk's takes us into the language, the philosophy and history of the ancients practitioners and thinkers in medicine and philosophy … this is an essential book for the student of ancient philosophy and science … an important addition to the serious scholar's library and not easily part with. Recommended.' Metapsychology

    Review of the hardback: '… performs a great service for philosophers, physicians, Classicists and historians of medicine who may be unaware of the lively discussions among ancient medical historians regarding all aspects of medicine in Classical Antiquity. … There is much to ponder in Medicine and Philosophy in Classical Antiquity: physicians will profit from being reminded how important are theoretical constructs that always, if subliminally, preside in the practice of medicine; Classicists and Ancient historians will gain numerous insights into the ongoing debates among us regarding the nature of ancient medicine as a whole; and students of philosophy will be prompted to recall how important are the works of the Greco-Roman philosopher-doctors (or doctor-philosophers) as wellsprings of Western medicine and the allied sciences.' The Times Literary Supplement

    Review of the hardback: '… extremely well researched, clearly written and easy to follow … With its serious attempt to cross disciplinary boundaries by relying on careful reading of the source texts, the book can be warmly recommended to all interested in the multiple relationships between ancient medicine and philosophy.' Arctos

    Review of the hardback: 'The studies collected in this volume demonstrate many benefits of the new approach to the study of ancient medicine. … an example of excellent scholarship.' Rhizai

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2005
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521818001
    • length: 420 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 27 mm
    • weight: 0.79kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Note on translations
    Note on abbreviations
    Part I. Hippocratic Corpus and Diocles of Carystus:
    1. The 'theology' of the Hippocratic treatise On the Sacred Disease
    2. Diocles and the Hippocratic writings on the method of dietetics and the limits of causal explanation
    3. To help, or to do no harm: principles and practices of therapeutics in the Hippocratic Corpus and in the work of Diocles of Carystus
    4. The heart, the brain, the blood and the pneuma: Hippocrates, Diocles and Aristotle on the location of cognitive processes
    Part II. Aristotle and His School:
    5. Aristotle on melancholy
    6. Theoretical and empirical elements in Aristotle's treatment of sleep, dreams and divination in sleep
    7. The matter of mind: Aristotle on the biology of 'psychic' processes and the bodily aspects of thinking
    8. Divine movement and human nature in Eudemian Ethics 8.2
    9. On sterility ('Hist. an. 10'), a medical work by Aristotle?
    Part III. Late Antiquity:
    10. Galen's use of the concept of 'qualified experience' in his dietetic and pharmacological works
    11. The Methodism of Caelius Aurelianus: some epistemological issues
    Index of passages cited
    General index.

  • Author

    Philip J. van der Eijk, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

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