Tuesday, October 5, 2021

942: Medicines.....

 Sofar you may have learned, that when we study the history of knowledge, it shows a specific process.


How did Homo sapiens do it? He began with noticing patterns. Patterns in nature, patterns in the sky above him, patterns in arranging objects.


His next step was to generalize on these patterns. He could reduce the patterns to a general rule or principle.


For instance, you could give names to your goats. Not real names, but in, say, two groups, you name in each group a goat ONE and a next one TWO and so on.


The general principle could become, that when you have two groups of goats and you name them in a given order 


and the last one of each group has the same name, for instance, TEN, then you may conclude that both groups consist of an equal number of goats.


First of all, this is an amazing kind of reasoning that the brain of Homo sapiens was capable of 


and second, it must have been quite exciting to experience that you can organize your world this way.


This wonderful mechanism of the brain, this move from pattern recognition to principle construction, didn't work in the beginning in all fields.


We have seen examples, where it worked perfectly well, however, when it comes to the human body itself and medicine,s we get a different picture.


Don't worry! In civilized countries, we have healthcare for all today, where healthcare is also really effective and efficient.. However, Homo sapiens had a tough start.


Let's begin at the beginning: Hippocrates of Kos (ca. 460 - 370 BBC). Hippocrates is credited with being the first person to believe that diseases were caused naturally, not because of superstition and gods.


However, Hippocrates did work with many convictions that were based on what is now known to be incorrect anatomy and physiology, such as Humorism.


Humour, also spelled Humor, from Latin “liquid,” or “fluid”, in early Western physiological theory, is one of the four fluids of the body that were thought to determine a person’s temperament and features. 


In the ancient physiological theory still current in the European Middle Ages and later, the four cardinal humours were blood, phlegm, choler (yellow bile), and melancholy (black bile). 


The variant mixtures of these humours in different persons determined their “complexions,” or “temperaments,” their physical and mental qualities, and their dispositions. 


The ideal person had the ideally proportioned mixture of the four; a predominance of one produced a person who was sanguine (Latin sanguis, “blood”), phlegmatic, choleric, or melancholic. 


Each complexion had specific characteristics, and the words carried much weight that they have since lost. 


For instance, the choleric man was not only quick to anger but also yellow-faced, lean, hairy, proud, ambitious, revengeful, and shrewd. 


By extension, “humour” in the 16th century came to denote an unbalanced mental condition, a mood or unreasonable caprice, or a fixed folly or vice. 


I guess you recognize a lot of terms we still use. Next lecture I'll explain, what this has resulted in.


Thank you for your attention again....

MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Rens Bod: "Een Wereld vol Patronen".  2019

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