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Experiences of Philology and Replication
Volume Editor: Lucia Raggetti
Traces of Ink. Experiences of Philology and Replication is a collection of original papers exploring the textual and material aspects of inks and ink-making in a number of premodern cultures (Babylonia, the Graeco-Roman world, the Syriac milieu and the Arabo-Islamic tradition). The volume proposes a fresh and interdisciplinary approach to the study of technical traditions, in which new results can be achieved thanks to the close collaboration between philologists and scientists. Replication represents a crucial meeting point between these two parties: a properly edited text informs the experts in the laboratory who, in turn, may shed light on many aspects of the text by recreating the material reality behind it.
br/> Contributors are: Miriam Blanco Cesteros, Michele Cammarosano, Claudia Colini, Vincenzo Damiani, Sara Fani, Matteo Martelli, Ira Rabin, Lucia Raggetti, and Katja Weirauch.
A Microhistorical Study of the Neo-Assyrian Healer Kiṣir-Aššur
In Medicine in Ancient Assur Troels Pank Arbøll offers a microhistorical study of a single exorcist named Kiṣir-Aššur who practiced medical and magical healing in the ancient city of Assur (modern northern Iraq) in the 7th century BCE. The book provides the first detailed analysis of a healer’s education and practice in ancient Mesopotamia based on at least 73 texts assigned to specific stages of his career. By drawing on a microhistorical framework, the study aims at significantly improving our understanding of the functional aspects of texts in their specialist environment. Furthermore, the work situates Kiṣir-Aššur as one of the earliest healers in world history for whom we have such details pertaining to his career originating from his own time.
Editor: Chiara Thumiger
This volume aims at exploring the ancient roots of ‘holistic’ approaches in the specific field of medicine and the life sciences, without, however, overlooking the larger theoretical implications of these discussions. Therefore, the project plans to broaden the perspective to include larger cultural discussions and, in a comparative spirit, reach out to some examples from non Graeco-Roman medical cultures. As such, it constitutes a fundamental contribution to history of medicine, philosophy of medicine, cultural studies, and ancient studies more broadly. The wide-ranging selection of chapters offers a comprehensive view of an exciting new field: the interrogation of ancient sources in the light of modern concepts in philosophy of medicine, as justification of the claim for their enduring relevance as object of study and, at the same time, as means to a more adequate contextualisation of modern debates within a long historical process.
Author: Sean Coughlin

Abstract

This paper is about the history of a question in ancient Greek philosophy and medicine: what holds the parts of a whole together? The idea that there is a single cause responsible for cohesion is usually associated with the Stoics. They refer to it as the synectic cause (αἴτιον συνεκτικόν), a term variously translated as ‘cohesive cause,’ ‘containing cause’ or ‘sustaining cause.’ The Stoics, however, are neither the first nor the only thinkers to raise this question or to propose a single answer. Many earlier thinkers offer their own candidates for what actively binds parts together, with differing implications not only for why we are wholes rather than heaps, but also why our bodies inevitably become diseased and fall apart. This paper assembles, up to the time of the Stoics, one part of the history of such a cause: what is called ‘the synechon’ (τὸ συνέχον) – that which holds things together. Starting with our earliest evidence from Anaximenes (sixth century BCE), the paper looks at different candidates and especially the models and metaphors for thinking about causes of cohesion which were proposed by different philosophers and doctors including Empedocles, early Greek doctors, Diogenes of Apollonia, Plato and Aristotle. My goal is to explore why these candidates and models were proposed and how later philosophical objections to them led to changes in how causes of cohesion were understood.

In: Holism in Ancient Medicine and Its Reception
Author: Vivian Nutton

Abstract

Studies of humoralism have rightly concentrated on the balance or imbalance of humours in individuals, but ancient medical texts, including the Epidemics and Airs, Waters and Places, also discussed diseases within the wider community. The so-called Constitutions in the Epidemics are a remarkable record of collaboration, as well as of the collection and analysis of information over a long period of time. This paper looks at some of the attempts made by humoralist physicians in the Middle Ages and Renaissance to investigate the diseases of groups or of regions, raising the question why little trace remains of similar studies in Antiquity. It argues that the complexity of record-keeping and the absence of any civic organisation hampered such efforts. Although commentators on Airs, Waters and Places offered advice on town-planning and a healthy environment, this remained largely at the level of theory.

In: Holism in Ancient Medicine and Its Reception
Author: Hynek Bartoš

Abstract

The aim of this essay is to identify three different pre-Platonic forms of holism: the ‘therapeutic’, the ‘environmental’, and the ‘cosmic.’ With the help of passages from the Hippocratic On the Nature of Man, On Regimen, and On Sevens, on the one hand, and from Plato, the earliest independent authority on the holistic nature of Hippocratic medicine, on the other, I make the case that all three forms of holism play significant roles in dietetic medicine, that they are complementary, and that aspects of them can even be combined into a single account.

In: Holism in Ancient Medicine and Its Reception
Author: David Leith

Abstract

As far as the Methodist medical sect is concerned, the question of holism most conspicuously arises in connection with the topic of the affected part (ὁ πεπονθὼς τόπος, locus affectus) in disease, which was a variable that the Methodists ignored, or at least downplayed, in contrast to their rivals. Extant Methodist treatises are often found insisting that the whole body suffers in disease, and that it should accordingly be treated as a whole. In this sense, the Methodists can be said to have taken a kind of holistic approach to therapeutics. But their reasoning on the question of the affected part turns out to be nuanced, and their rivals’ claims that they ignored the affected part altogether is something of a distortion. In this paper, I attempt to specify exactly what the Methodist position was on the question of the affected part in disease, what sort of holism this represented and how their approach may have developed out of more fundamental commitments. I argue that the application of their ‘Method’ led to a distinctive and noteworthy position on the issue of holism, one which deliberately encouraged the physician to minimise the significance of differences between diseases, including differences in the location of symptoms, and to focus rather on certain features which they share. Analysis of this position reveals some interesting characteristics of their approach to therapy in general, in particular their exploitation of the huge body of earlier therapeutic literature of the Classical and Hellenistic periods which they had inherited.

In: Holism in Ancient Medicine and Its Reception

Abstract

Emotional experience is at once bodily, mental, cultural and social. Methods for studying the emotions, especially those of historical societies, must therefore be equally multidisciplinary to avoid reducing affective experience to a single dimension. This chapter evaluates two kinds of approach to studying the ancient emotions drawing inspiration from the cognitive sciences: in particular, the Wierzbickian script-based and Lakovian metaphor-based methods. It argues that whereas the Wierzbickian approach falls short of an adequate cultural emotionology, an embodied semantics along cognitive-linguistic lines can enable emotion concepts to be studied in a way that is both emically sensitive and etically sound, as well as in their several dimensions simultaneously – thus affording a more holistic perspective on this aspect of ancient experience.

In: Holism in Ancient Medicine and Its Reception
In: Holism in Ancient Medicine and Its Reception
Author: Elizabeth Craik

Abstract

It is contended that ancient Greek medicine is fundamentally ‘holistic’ in the literal sense that it views the human organism as a complete mental and somatic unity; and it is further argued that these ideas are not purely medical but are rooted in early Greek language and thought: a systemic and synoptic view of the body in health and disease and of the mind in order and disorder can be traced in many texts of creative as well as medical writers. It is seen that the most vital physical organs (concrete) identified by different Hippocratic authors coincide and correspond with the very same bodily parts that are associated by the Attic tragedians with significant (abstract) mental and emotional activity. Through a close analysis of terminology in plays including Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound and Euripides’ Hippolytos a new understanding of usage is reached. Terms discussed include kardia, thymos, phrenes, hepar, myelos and psyche.

In: Holism in Ancient Medicine and Its Reception