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Medicine and Philosophy in Classical Antiquity Doctors and Philosophers on Nature, Soul, Health and Disease by Philip J. van der Eijk

Medicine and Philosophy in Classical Antiquity Doctors and Philosophers on Nature, Soul, Health and Disease


Medicine and Philosophy in Classical Antiquity Doctors and Philosophers on Nature, Soul, Health and Disease by Philip J. van der Eijk

This work brings together Philip van der Eijk's previously published essays on the close connections that existed between medicine and philosophy throughout antiquity. Medical authors such as the Hippocratic writers, Diocles, Galen, Soranus and Caelius Aurelianus elaborated on philosophical methods such as causal explanation, definition and division and applied key concepts such as the notion of nature to their understanding of the human body. Similarly, philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle were highly valued for their contributions to medicine. This interaction was particularly striking in the study of the human soul in its relation to the body, as illustrated by approaches to specific topics such as intellect, sleep and dreams, and diet and drugs. With a detailed introduction surveying the subject as a whole and an essay on Aristotle's treatment of sleep, this wide-ranging and accessible collection is essential reading for the student of ancient philosophy and science.


Review of the hardback: '... it reveals much that should be of interest to the modern physician. ... the introduction offers by far the best and most up-to-date overview available, for specialists and nonspecialists alike, of the relation between ancient medicine and philosophy. And several of the essays provide highly accessible accounts of general issues that will be essential reading for anyone interested in the history of medicine and science in the ancient world.
The Lancet Review of the hardback:

'Not only is Eijk a superb scholar who writes on complex topics with a clarity and unambiguity that would send a shudder of revulsion down the spine of most literary critics, but he also has an eye for the contemporary resonance of ancient issues.'
Journal of Classics Teaching Review of the hardback:

'... even experts will welcome that these papers are now available in one volume ... Van der Eijk's choice of the specific topics he deals with is such that each paper unravels yet another aspect of the interrelation between ancient medicine and philosophy ... good, very solid, traditional scholarship ... faithful to the principles of the new approach throughout this volume ... it not only helps us to realise the richness of ancient medical texts, and in general of ancient thought, at the same time it provides us with the methodological tools to study them in such a way that the results are as rewarding as they can be.'
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews Review of the hardback:

'... closely researched ... Philip Van der Eijk's takes us into the language, the philosophy and history of the ancients practitioners and thinkers in medicine and philosophy ... this is an essential book for the student of ancient philosophy and science ... an important addition to the serious scholar's library and not easily part with. Recommended.'
Metapsychology Review of the hardback:

'... performs a great service for philosophers, physicians, Classicists and historians of medicine who may be unaware of the lively discussions among ancient medical historians regarding all aspects of medicine in Classical Antiquity. ... There is much to ponder in Medicine and Philosophy in Classical Antiquity: physicians will profit from being reminded how important are theoretical constructs that always, if subliminally, preside in the practice of medicine; Classicists and Ancient historians will gain numerous insights into the ongoing debates among us regarding the nature of ancient medicine as a whole; and students of philosophy will be prompted to recall how important are the works of the Greco-Roman philosopher-doctors (or doctor-philosophers) as wellsprings of Western medicine and the allied sciences.'
The Times Literary Supplement Review of the hardback:

'... extremely well researched, clearly written and easy to follow ... With its serious attempt to cross disciplinary boundaries by relying on careful reading of the source texts, the book can be warmly recommended to all interested in the multiple relationships between ancient medicine and philosophy.'
Arctos Review of the hardback:

'The studies collected in this volume demonstrate many benefits of the new approach to the study of ancient medicine. ... an example of excellent scholarship.'

About the Author

Philip J. van der Eijk is Professor of Greek at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He has published widely on ancient philosophy, medicine and science, comparative literature and patristics. He is the author of Aristoteles. De insomniis. De divinatione per somnum (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1994) and of Diocles of Carystus. A Collection of the Fragments with Translation and Commentary (2 Vols., Leiden: Brill, 2000-1). He has edited and co-authored Ancient Histories of Medicine. Essays in Medical Doxography and Historiography in Classical Antiquity (Leiden: Brill, 1999) and co-edited Ancient Medicine in its Socio-Cultural Context (2 Vols., Amsterdam - Atlanta: Rodopi, 1995).

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Book Info

Publication date

10th June 2010


Philip J. van der Eijk

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Cambridge University Press


420 pages


History of medicine
Western philosophy: Ancient, to c 500



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