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Hippocrates On airs, waters, and places

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Victoria Wohl

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HippocratesOn airs, waters, and placesFebruary 9, 2011
Medicin tries to be objective but it always taking note of factors such as sex, race, ethnicity,
age, healthy v unhealthy, etc.
Writing in 5th century bce, contemporary of Herodotus. Known as the father of greek
medicine, origin of the Hippocratic oath.
Oath: First, I shall not do harm. Set a guideline. Established the oath because it was just
coming into existence so it needed to become better known and trusted. Vaguely
differentiated from other areas such as religion if there was something wrong, they would
go to the temple of Asclepius and sleep in it where they would have dreams to tell you what
was wrong and how the doctors could cure you. God was thought to be the one curing you.
Largely defining what we think of as medicine both as a theory and a practical. What
makes medicine different from religion, coherent practice. His analysis of the Scithians
impotency they think its just a gods curse, but Hippocrates claims that all diseases are
natural, not divine, and credits it to other logic (albeit strange) factors. This is his
application to all diseases, all natural and cause and effect. Believes they had to do with the
balance of bodily fluids. A healthy body is a body in balance of hot and cold, hard and soft,
wet and dry. Balance is tied to the environment. Very interested in the quality of water,
temperature changes, air quality, wind direction and changes, does it change drastically,
topography, direction of the town is facing, moistness. Connected the environment to the
body ie moist climate makes a moist body. Used Greece as the standard. At the time,
doctors were itinerant, they traveled from town to town with epidemic to be able to learn
what to look for to analyze quickly, so it seems Hippocrates is writing to inform them what
to do, what to look for, what to expect, what to watch for, etc. For telling what diseases are
already in the community and to look for/prognate what to expect to develop. Includes the
habits of the ppl, how do they exercise, eat, sleep, etc. A kind of ethnographer, getting ppl to
notice details that would help diagnose the issue. Describes the mythical Amazons. A
parallel to Herodotus for ethnography. (both examined the Scithians which were nomadic,
Baltic ppl) and looked at by both. Looked at differences such as drinking milk over wine,
riding horses and wagons, being nomadic. Herodotus wanted to know their effect on the
Persian war, Hippocrates wanted to know how it affected their health. Both have quite
strange views, slightly skewed. Ie Hippocrates describes them burning themselves, most
like them branding themselves (something foreign to the Greeks but not to a tribal culture)
so he guessed they were too moist and were trying to dry out. This shows how culture
affects it and is in turn affected by the environment. Explains that cultural practices are
actually a result of the environment. This opens up the opportunity for racialization. Slips
between objective qualities of a disease and subjective behaviours of the ppl. We can tell
there is a cultural/language barrier in his work hes likely asking the wrong questions. Ie
priests wear long dress style robes but it has nothing to do with disease, but rather it has to
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