Essay on Galenic Medicine

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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…show more content…
The ‘form’ carries or provides qualities and bestowed them on objects to make them what they were. Certain forms were subordinate to others and this created a hierarchy of forms which resulted in a controlling or a noble form.[8] Matter is the thing which takes on form. All change in the universe is the result of opposition between contraries, in this case between the three primary principles of, ‘privation, form and matter’. The theme of opposition between contraries ran through many Aristotelian theories, such as the primary qualities. Matter lacked form and was suitable to receiving all forms. Privation was simply the absence of form and the potentiality of acquiring new form.[9] Through this process of privation, form and matter, elements had the ability to transform in to each other, within Aristotle’s elemental matter theory. Form and matter cannot exist separately, although in thought they can be considered as two separate things. The function of form was to, ‘inform matter and determine a particular kind, giving specificity and distinction from other kinds; and finally to furnish and bring about all activities.’[10] Matter, form and substance are exemplified in the Aristotelian theory of elements, which was the basis of the Galenic humoral theory. Aristotle believed all bodies and objects in the sub-lunar world, or the world beneath the moon, were made up of four elements or simple bodies; Earth, Water,
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