Galenic Medicine

4301 words 18 pages
To what extent was Galenic Medicine a part of the broader Aristotelian World View?

In this essay I will strive to show the extent upon which Galenic medicine was incorporated in to the predominantly Aristotelian world view, concluding that Aristotelian philosophies underpinned the majority of Galenic theories and concepts. To achieve this I will primarily demonstrate the perceived link between medicine and natural philosophy that existed at the time. I will continue with a description of the Aristotelian Form, Matter and Substance theories, which formed the basis for the Aristotelian world view. After considering the concepts that formed the Aristotelian philosophy, form, matter and substance, I will take a closer look at the Galenic
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The natural movement for air and fire was seen as upward, and for earth and water downwards. The four elements had four primary qualities that maintained their form. These qualities follow the discourse of contraries, with opposites of hot and cold, wet and dry. All secondary qualities are derived from these primary four. Galen deduced from this that there were four humours in the body, all created with the four primary qualities in their form and each linked to one of the four elements. These humours of Galen’s, like those of Hippocrates, consisted of phlegm and bile. However in Galen’s theory, bile was split in to two kinds, yellow and black. Blood, although mentioned in Hippocratic Corpus, was also added as a cause of illness. Black Bile linked with Earth which had the qualities cold and dry, Phlegm linked with Water and had the qualities cold and wet. Blood linked to Air and had the qualities of hot and wet, yellow bile linked to Fire and had the qualities of hot and dry. Galenic medicine further linked this theory to the concept of temperament, implying that each body had a noble humour, which all other humours were subordinate to. This humour determined a person’s temperament, characteristics and complexion. Aristotle’s work on blood was important to this theory as he first identified blood as a vehicle of


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