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What Is Medicine?Western and Eastern Approaches to Healing$
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Paul Unschuld

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780520257658

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520257658.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 27 June 2022

Troublemakers and Ostracism

Troublemakers and Ostracism

(p.73) 25 Troublemakers and Ostracism
What Is Medicine?

Paul U. Unschuld

University of California Press

This chapter focuses on the doctrine of four humors introduced by Polybos towards the end of the fifth century bc, applying it consistently to the assessment of the human organism, or to the explanation of health and illness. He was the first to base the interpretation of the human conditions of sickness and health purely on the laws of nature and thus on a scientific foundation. The impulse for new thinking always came from outside the body. First came changes in the social structures in which the Greeks lived or aspired to live. Structures triggering a shift in thinking can be real or ideal. The structures that led to the rethinking in ancient Greece were those of the polis democracy. The monistic view of the “rulers” of a fundamental element must have naturally yielded to the new view of a larger number. The important thing is that the idea prevailed that several fundamental elements carried, in their mixture, a complex structure and thus made life possible for the structure. The details come from the graphic nature of the body. After the basic structures imposed themselves from the outside onto the body, the reality of the body could deliver material to fill up the fundamental structures.

Keywords:   doctrine of four humors, human organism, laws of nature, social structures, ancient Greece, polis democracy

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