Harmony in Healing: The Theoretical Basis of Ancient and Medieval Medicine

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Overview

Medicine and astronomy are the oldest of all the sciences. They appear at first glance to be the original "odd couple." Their union gave birth to a progeny that populated the Western world for more than two millennia. From an historical perspective, their marriage and mutual influence is undeniable. Cosmology and cosmogony, as natural philosophical aspects of astronomy, have gone hand in hand with the science of medicine from time immemorial. Indeed, medicine and the pseudoscience of astrology were for centuries inseparable.

The ancients began the embryonic search for answers to questions that had puzzled humans for eons. No systematic approach to the nature of the universe was undertaken until the Sumerians, the Babylonians, and the Greeks began the quest for wisdom. The Greeks, beginning with Thales in the 6th century B.C.E., sought a unifying principle to explain the world as a whole. Because cosmology and medicine were among the few known sciences in ancient times, it was natural that these two apparently disparate disciplines should be combined to provide the theoretical basis of medicine--foundations that were to survive for nearly 2,400 years. This scientific structure rested firmly on the ancient principles of cosmology, astronomy, and the concept of universal harmony. This book tells the tale of these theoretical underpinnings and how they influenced humankind's efforts to maintain health and fight disease. Ultimately, the system was fundamentally flawed. Nonetheless, it lingered on for centuries beyond what common sense tells us it should have.

Few comprehensive analyses of the relationship between cosmology and medicine have been undertaken in the astronomical or medical literature. For better or for worse, cosmological principles have had profound effects on the theory and practice of medicine over the centuries. It is time for historians, astronomers, physicians, and philosophers to acquaint themselves with the impact early cosmology has had on medicine. Awareness of this linkage can help us better understand not only past but present-day medicine. This book is a fascinating review of the historical roots of the medical tradition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"...a unique examination of the link between medicine, astronomy, and cosmology, from the era of the Greeks to the modern day...A fascinating look at how mankind's understanding of medicine and healing evolved over millennia."

-- Library Bookwatch

"Astronomer James J. Garber presents Harmony in Healing: The Theoretical Basis of Ancient and Medieval Medicine, a unique examination of the link between medicine, astronomy, and cosmology, from the era of the Greeks to the modern day. Harmony in Healing pays particular attention to the theoretical baseline of the ancient principle of universal harmony, and its role in helping humanity's efforts to resist disease. Cosmological principles have played a key role in the theory and practice of medicine throughout history, sometimes obscuring human understanding of more accurate models such as modern disease theory, but often leading the way in the spirit of scientific and medical inquisition. "Galen's theory of anatomy and physiology was easily assimilated into a Christian context because he held that God had created each part of the human body for a specific purpose. His was a teleological system utilizing Aristotle's fourth (final) cause. Galen was a pagan who, at one point, criticized Christians for not thinking rationally. This apparently did not put off Christian writers - Galen's works survived without criticism for 1,500 years." A fascinating look at how mankind's understanding of medicine and healing evolved over millennia."
--Midwest Book Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412806923
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/17/2008
  • Pages: 225
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

James J. Garber received his MS in astronomy from the University of Western Sydney, MD from the University of Minnesota, and his PhD from Columbia Commonwealth University.

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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 The Beginnings

1 Prehistory

2 The Ancients

Pt. 2 Medicine in the Middle Ages

3 Theory and Practice

4 Music and Medicine

5 Medieval Medicinein Literature

Pt. 3 Moving into Modern Medicine

6 The Faces of Change

7 Medicine on the Mend

Pt. 4 The Psychology of Change

8 Why the Delay?

Conclusion

Epilogue

Appendix

References

Index

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