PHL 381 • Aristotle and Greek Biomedical Science
3:30 PM-6:30 PM
Aristotle was, among many other things, the founder of biology; his texts Parts of Animals, Generation of Animals and Researches on Animals (Historia Animalium), as well as other lesser works, set the standard for all later work in classification and analysis. But he was not the first thinker to subject the body to detailed investigation and speculation. In this class we will begin by looking at some works in the Hippocratic tradition, and then move on to Aristotle, in particular Parts of Animals, before turning to later texts in the Greek medical tradition, in particular those of Galen. In the course of so doing, we will be primarily concerned with issues of method and epistemology: just how can one go about seeking to discover internal structural facts about the body? And how are such facts to be related to function? Finally, is such detailed knowledge necessary for successful scientific and medical practice and is it even possible? Here the discussions intersect with, reflect, and to some extent condition the great debates in Hellenistic philosophy on the nature and limitations of knowledge.
Class participation: 10% Term Paper: 90%
G.E.R.Lloyd (ed.) Hippocratic Writings (Penguin) J.G.Lennox (ed.) Aristotle: On the Parts of Animals I-IV (Oxford) P.N.Singer (ed.) Galen: Selected Works (Oxford) M.Frede (ed.) Galen: Three Treatises on the Nature of Science (Hackett)