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Korean J Med Hist > Volume 22(3); 2013 > Article
Korean Journal of Medical History 2013;22(3): 879-914.
doi: https://doi.org/10.13081/kjmh.2013.22.879
히포크라테스 의학에서 엠페도클레스의 영향: 가정(hypothesis)과 인간의 본질(physis) 문제
Empedocles' Influence on Hippocratic Medicine: The Problem of Hypothesis and Human Nature
Kee Baek Rhee
University College, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Korea. kairios@skku.edu
Received: September 25, 2013;  Accepted: October 30, 2013.  Published online: December 31, 2013.
This paper aims to show Empedocles' influence on Hippocratic medicine through the analysis of two Hippocratic writings, i.e. On Ancient Medicine(AM) and On the Nature of Man(NM). I think that the author of AM criticizes philosophical physicians or natural philosophers, especially Empedocles, that at least Empedoclean philosophy is not necessary to medicine. On the contrary, the author of NM positively receives Empedoclean position in several aspects. It is necessary to examine these two writings in order to consider Empedocles' positive and negative influences on Hippocratic Medicine. The author of AM attacks the philosophical physicians who lay down as a hypothesis for their account hot or cold or wet or dry, in other words the same one or two things as the primary cause of all diseases. But it does not seem clear what the point of his criticism is. I think that his criticism lies on the following three points: (1) Hot or cold or wet or dry is neither the important cause of disease nor the important element for therapy;(2) The cause of diseases is not the same one or two things, but myriad things; (3) hypothesis as assumption is not necessary to medicine. These three points implies the criticism against cosmology and methodology of some early Greek philosophers, in particular Empedocles. Accordingly we should notice that the author attacks physicians influenced by Empedocles especially. Then whom does attack the author of AM? Lloyd points out Philolaus as the author's opponent, since he argues that man consists of the hot(Lloyd, 1963: 124-25). But I think that Lloyd narrowed down the opponent's range excessively. For example, if a physician holds that we consist of hot, cold, dry and wet, and that these are causes of diseases, does he belong to those whom the author attacked, or not? At a glance he doesn't seem to do. Because he lays down not one or two things as the cause of diseases, but four. But strictly we should tell that he does only two. Because hot and cold are contrary, and so both can not be causes of an disease at the same time. The same account applies to dry and wet too. Therefore even if someone lays down hot, cold, dry and wet as causes of diseases, it is right to regard him as the author's opponent. Moreover if a physician explains diseases by hot or cold or dry or wet, whether these are substances or qualities, in my opinion he is the author's opponent. Thus the opponents' range can be enlarged. While the author of AM attempts to exclude Empedoclean thought from medicine, the author of NM adopts it so positively. This author rejects the monistic view about man in chapters 1 and 2, and in chapter 3 tells that man is composed of hot, cold, dry and wet. And in the subsequent chapters he argues that man's body is composed of the four humours, and associates each humour with hot, cold, dry and wet respectively. It is noticeable that the author takes the pluralistic view and thinks that elements are four in number, that he make much of hot, cold, dry and wet, and that he explains man' generation and health by the balanced mixture. This shows Empedocles' influence on the author. In addition, the author holds that man and cosmos have hot, cold, dry and wet equally, and their change in cosmos according to seasons brings the increase or decrease of humours to man's body. Here is Empedocles' theory of macrocosm-microcosm found.
Key Words: Hippocrates;Hippocratic medicine;Empedocles;hypothesis;human nature;physis;ancient medicine;humour;hot;cold;dry;wet;On the Nature of Man;On the Ancient Medicine
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