Blood, Sweat and Tears

The Changing Concepts of Physiology from Antiquity into Early Modern Europe


The history of anatomy has been the subject of much recent scholarship. This volume shifts the focus to the many different ways in which the function of the body and its fluids were understood in pre-modern European thought. Contributors demonstrate how different academic disciplines can contribute to our understanding of ‘physiology’, and investigate the value of this category to pre-modern medicine. The book contains individual essays on the wider issues raised by ‘physiology’, and detailed case studies that explore particular aspects and individuals. It will be useful to those working on medicine and the body in pre-modern cultures, in disciplines including classics, history of medicine and science, philosophy, and literature. Contributors include Barbara Baert, Marlen Bidwell-Steiner, Véronique Boudon-Millot, Rainer Brömer, Elizabeth Craik, Tamás Demeter, Valeria Gavrylenko, Hans L. Haak, Mieneke te Hennepe, Sabine Kalff, Rina Knoeff, Sergius Kodera, Liesbet Kusters, Karine van ‘t Land, Tomas Macsotay, Michael McVaugh, Vivian Nutton, Barbara Orland, Jacomien Prins, Julius Rocca, Catrien Santing, Daniel Schäfer, Emma Sidgwick, Frank W. Stahnisch, Diana Stanciu, Michael Stolberg, Liba Taub, Fabio Tutrone, Katrien Vanagt, and Marion A. Wells.
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Biographical Note

Manfred (H.F.J.) Horstmanshoff was Professor of Ancient Medicine at Leiden from 2006-11, having taught Ancient History there since 1976. He is currently a Fellow of the Internationales Kolleg Morphomata, University of Cologne, studying the history of the patient from a comparative perspective. His publications include the co-editorship (with P.J. van der Eijk and P.H Schrijvers) of Ancient Medicine in its Socio-Cultural Context (Amsterdam: Clio Medica, 1995) and editorship of the selected papers of the XIIth Colloquium Hippocraticum as Hippocrates and Medical Education (Leiden: Brill, 2010). Helen King, formerly Professor of the History of Classical Medicine at the University of Reading, is currently Professor of Classical Studies at The Open University, Milton Keynes. She works on ancient medicine and its reception until the nineteenth century, particularly on gynaecology and midwifery. Her publications include The Disease of Virgins (London: Routledge, 2003) and Midwifery, Obstetrics and the Rise of Gynaecology (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007). Claus Zittel teaches philosophy and German literature at the Universities of Frankfurt am Main, Berlin (FU) and Olstzyn (Poland) and is the co-leader of the Max-Planck Research group, “The Conscious Image” at the Kunsthistorisches Institut/Max-Planck-Institut Florence. His publications include Theatrum philosophicum,. Descartes und die Rolle ästhetischer Formen in der Wissenschaft (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2009) and (with Moritz Epple) Science as Cultural Practice Vol. 1: Cultures and Politics of Research from the Early Modern Period to the Age of Extremes (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2010).

Review Quote

'' Blood, Sweat and Tears is by no means a work that provides any ‘Big Picture’. Its merit lies rather in its confirmation of the bewildering profusion of themes relevant to pre-modern physiology. It thereby invites further cooperative projects, probably each with a narrower focus, by scholars with multiple disciplinary backgrounds. The editors and their collaborators have rendered a great service to readers. As a book with a number of references to Greek and Roman works, the volume is equipped with an index locorum. A short bibliography at the end of each article provides a good overview of relevant literature. Every article has its summary that facilitates selective reading. Many black and white illustrations make the volume a delight to turn over. These editorial cares can serve as a model for any scholars who are going to edit a large number of essays into a single volume.” Kuni Sakamoto, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies in Medical History, 2013. ‘’The editors can therefore rest content, for by bringing together so many outstanding studies of the variety of ways that the living human body has been understood in premodern Europe. They have done a great service.’’ Harold J. Cook, Brown University. In: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 67, No. 3, Fall 2014, p. 982. ‘’Given its objective of presenting an interdisciplinary overview of myriad concerns and approaches, this is a broad collection that brings forth various heuristic principles underlying both scholarly and practical inquiry. The articles do not systematize or harmonize. Instead, they complicate and contextualize intellectual and practical explorations that have often been collapse and conflated into chronology and summary. The result is a thorough representation of the intricacies involved in the definition of such a widely used term as physiology. It emphasizes the presuppositions and prejudices that influenced practice, impeded invention, and posed interpretive and practical problems’’ Dorothy Stegman, Ball State University. In: Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 44, No. 4, 2013, p. 1089. ‘’The book is certainly a helpful and clear route into the context of early modern chemistry and its important and intimate connections with religious beliefs.’’ David Knight, Durham University. In: Ambix,Vol. 60, No. 4, November, 2013, p. 428. "Ce collectif résulte d’une sélection de communications présentées lors du colloque international tenu en avril 2009 au Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS) à Wassenaar. L’importance et la richesse de ce volume sont une indication de la richesse elle-même de cette rencontre internationale. Le cadre culturel et chronologique proposé est d’une grande amplitude et parvenir à un ouvrage cohérent présentant une certaine unité était un défi que les éditeurs ont su relever à travers notamment le plan retenu pour la succession des différents articles." Frédéric Le Blay in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2013.09.55.

Table of contents

Preface and Acknowledgements Notes on the Editors Notes on the Contributors List of Illustrations Introduction Helen King PART ONE HISTORY OF PHYSIOLOGY IN CONTEXT: CONCEPTS, METAPHORS, ANALOGIES Physiologia from Galen to Jacob Bording Vivian Nutton Physiological Analogies and Metaphors. In Explanations of the Earth and the Cosmos Liba Taub The Reception of the Hippocratic Treatise On Glands Elizabeth Craik Between Atoms and Humours. Lucretius’ Didactic Poetry as a Model of Integrated and Bifocal Physiology Fabio Tutrone Losing Ground. The Disappearance of Attraction from the Kidneys 85 Michael R. McVaugh The Art of the Distillation of ‘Spirits’ as a Technological Model for Human Physiology. The Cases of Marsilio Ficino, Joseph Duchesne and Francis Bacon Sergius Kodera The Body is a Battlefield. Conflict and Control in Seventeenth-Century Physiology and Political Thought Sabine Kalff Herman Boerhaave’s Neurology and the Unchanging Nature of Physiology Rina Knoeff The Anatomy and Physiology of Mind. David Hume’s Vitalistic Account Tamás Demeter More than a Fading Flame. The Physiology of Old Age between Speculative Analogy and Experimental Method Daniel Schäfer Suffering Bodies, Sensible Artists. Vitalist Medicine and the Visualising of Corporeal Life in Diderot Tomas Macsotay PART TWO BLOOD Blood, Clotting and the Four Humours Hans L. Haak An Issue of Blood. The Healing of the Woman with the Haemorrhage (Mark 5.24b-34; Luke 8.42b-48; Matthew 9.19-22) in Early Medieval Visual Culture Barbara Baert, Liesbet Kusters and Emma Sidgwick The Nature of the Soul and the Passage of Blood through the Lungs. Galen, Ibn al-Nafīs, Servetus, İtaki, ‘Aṭṭār Rainer Brömer Sperm and Blood, Form and Food. Late Medieval Medical Notions of Male and Female in the Embryology of Membra Karine van ’t Land The Music of the Pulse in Marsilio Ficino’s Timaeus Commentary Jacomien Prins ‘For the Life of a Creature is in the Blood’ (Leviticus 17:11). Some Considerations on Blood as the Source of Life in Sixteenth-Century Religion and Medicine and their Interconnections Catrien Santing White Blood and Red Milk. Analogical Reasoning in Medical Practice and Experimental Physiology (1560-1730) Barbara Orland PART THREE SWEAT AND SKIN The “Body without Skin” in the Homeric Poems Valeria Gavrylenko Sweat. Learned Concepts and Popular Perceptions, 1500-1800 Michael Stolberg Of the Fisherman’s Net and Skin Pores. Reframing Conceptions of the Skin in Medicine 1572-1714 Mieneke M. G. te Hennepe PART FOUR TEARS AND SIGHT Vision and Vision Disorders. Galen’s Physiology of Sight Véronique Boudon-Millot Early Modern Medical Thinking on Vision and the Camera Obscura. V.F. Plempius’ Ophthalmographia Katrien Vanagt The Tertium Comparationis of the Elementa Physiologiae. Johann Gottfried von Herder’s Coception of “Tears’ as Mediators between the Sublime and the Actual Bodily Physiology Frank W. Stahnisch PART FIVE BODY AND SOUL From Doubt to Certainty. Aspects of the Conceptualisation and Interpretation of Galen’s Natural Pneuma Julius Rocca Metabolisms of the Soul. The Physiology of Bernardino Telesio in Oliva Sabuco’s Nueva Filosofía de la Naturaleza del Hombre (1587) Marlen Bidwell-Steiner “Full of Rapture”. Maternal Vocality and Melancholy in Webster’s Duchess of Malfi Marion A. Wells The Sleeping Musician. Aristotle’s Vegetative Soul and Ralph Cudworth’s Plastic Nature Diana Stanciu Index Locorum Index Generalis


Mostly researchers interested in the history of the body, history of ideas, history of medicine and science. Medical practitioners would also find this material interesting.