Philosophy and Dietetics in the Hippocratic On Regimen

A Delicate Balance of Health


This book offers the first extended study published in English on the Hippocratic treatise On Regimen, one of the most important pre-Platonic documents of the discussion of human nature and other topics at the intersection of ancient medicine and philosophy. It is not only a unique example of classical Greek dietetic literature, including the most elaborated account of the micro-macrocosm and phusis- technē analogies, but it also provides the most explicit discussion of the soul-body opposition preceding Plato. Moreover, Bartoš argues, it is a rare example of an extant medical text which systematically draws on philosophical authorities, such as Heraclitus, Empedocles and Anaxagoras, and which had a decisive influence on both physicians, such as Galen, and philosophers, most notably Plato and Aristotle.

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Biographical Note

Hynek Bartoš, PhD. (2003), in History and Philosophy of Science at Charles University (Prague), is associate professor at Charles University, Faculty of Humanities. He has published in ancient Greek philosophy and life sciences (including papers in Ancient Philosophy, Apeiron, Classical Quarterly, and Rhizai) and co-edits a series of the first Czech translations with commentaries of the Hippocratic treatises.

Table of contents

Preface and Acknowledgements
Abbreviations and Editions

1 The Discovery of Dietetics
1 The Roots of Dietetics
1.1 The Quest for Health
1.2 Earliest Evidence
1.3 The Crotonian-Pythagorean Hypothesis
1.4 Athletic Training
1.5 Regimen Towards Health
2 Dietetics in the Hippocratic On Regimen
2.1 The Author and His Readers
2.2 Reflections on the Earlier Dietetic Tradition
2.3 Dietetic Methodology and Discovery
2.4 The Original Constituents
2.5 The Typology of Human Nature
2.6 Elemental Explications
Conclusion 99

2 Philosophy of the Nature of Man
1 Reflections on the Philosophical Tradition
2 MimēsisStatus Questionis
3 The Analogy of Macrocosm and Microcosm
4 The Analogy of Physis and Technē
4.1 Seeing the Invisible by Means of the Visible
4.2 Carpentry and Human Physiology
4.3 Harmony in Embryology, Music and Cooking
4.4 The Circularity of Physiological Processes
4.5 Digestion and Growth
4.6 Dietetics, Medicine, Gymnastics and Cosmetics

3 Therapy of Body and Soul
1 Distinguishing Soul from Body
1.1 Diagnosing Human Nature
1.2 Therapy of the Soul
2 Body and Soul in On Regimen
2.1 The Duality of Fire and Water
2.2 Fire and Water in the Soul and Body
2.3 Therapy of Thought, Perception and Memory
2.4 The Sleeping Body and the Dreaming Soul
2.5 Seed, Embryology, Procreation
2.6 Transmigration and the Cycle of Life
2.7 Regimen without Morality

4 The Philosophical Legacy of On Regimen
1 Plato’s Timaeus on the Therapy of the Soul
2 Aristotelian Reflections
2.1 Innate Heat and the Kindled Soul
2.1.1 Soul and Fire in Aristotle’s On the Soul
2.1.2 Soul and Fire in Aristotle’s On the Parts of Animals
2.1.3 Kindled Soul in Aristotle’s Parva Naturalia
2.2 Aristotle’s Concept of Health and Natural Teleology
2.2.1 The Concept of Self-Healing Nature
2.2.2 Aristotle on the Analogy between Nature and Medicine
2.2.3 The Limitations of Aristotle’s Natural Teleology
2.3 Aristotle on Distinguished Physicians and the Principles of Natural Philosophy

General Index
Index Locorum
Index Nominum


All interested in the history of Ancient Greek philosophy, ethics, medicine, and dietetics, as well as anyone concerned with comparative and religious studies.

Index Card

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