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Lecture 14

Empiricists - Lecture 14.doc

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Classical Studies
Classical Studies 2900
Beate Gundert

The Empiricists (200 B.C.-200 A.D.) • They base their medical ideas around experience. The Greek word for experience is idea - they call themselves the people who deal with experience. • Peira - refers to experiments. • Is the universe ordered by reason or did it come together by chance? This goes back to the Pre-Socratics. There are different theories, every philosopher who is different in his philosophies would be convincing in arguments. • We cannot decide what is true because we cannot follow any one theory and must take experiences as they are. Sceptics - they have a sceptical attitude. In medicine we have a similar situation. We have different opinions about what causes disease. We talked about what is inside the body and for a long time what is to be known. Theories were based mainly on speculation in the Hippo- cratics and analogy and deduce what might go on inside the body. Later in Hel- lenistic medicine, the body was actually cut open and we could see what went on inside the body. What we could observe led both H and E to theories about how the body worked. H compared the heart to the pump and used analogies with how things in the outside world worked. From causes, physicians deduced treatments. In order to treat the disease must under- stand what caused the symptoms. Empiricists believed different - not possible to know what is going on and we should do away with understanding what is going on inside the body. Their belief is nature cannot be comprehended. We should only base our treatment on observation and experience on what worked in the past. Treatment is based on three basic parts - they call this a tri- pod. An empirical tripod - the first of these legs is what you observe yourself. The Greek term for this is autopsia means seeing by yourself. Nothing to do with cutting up body after person died, this is the observation that you do yourself. When they are faced with a patient that has a cold, they observe the symptoms and then they try out certain medi- cations and see what works. If the thing works, they do use the same medications or treatment again. If this repeatedly works, they believe they found something and what first is just a trial and error is now an experience. Tyche - Greek work for chance. What first is tyche is now experience and becomes part of the medical art or part of the techne. They would read the observations of other physicians and they were especially interest- ed in hippocratic writings. They are also interest in surgical books by hippocratics be- cause they are not characterized by theory but by bone fractions and dislocations. They use the accumulated experience of other physicians and this is what the second leg of their tripod exists of - historia - the experience of other people. These are the two most important part of the way of treating and this is the way of basing treatment on treatment of people and others. Use a treatment that you would use for a similar case if you do not know how to treat the case at hand. If you know how to treat growth on arm and then people has growth on leg, treat the same way. If a person has a certain fever and then different fever treat the same. This they would call analogy because you would use treatment that is analo- gous to treatment for known disease. They also call it transference from treatment of one case to another case. Interpretation about ideas and what goes on inside the body. Empiricists that lump all the other physicians who believe that one has to know about the hidden causes, it is them that call all the people dogmatists. They believe in a certain theory which then the empiricists reject. Celsus Passage 182 • There is disagreement among medical ideas. For example, fever is caused by ex- cessive bile and E says that these are caused by blood in the arteries so we can- not find out what is really true so we must conclude that the knowledge about the inner part of the body is not relevant • According to empiricists what counts is results. Hidden causes don't matter. • Knowledge about natural actions isn't relevant because we don't have to know how to it takes place. • They were all able to treat patients so it is useless to talk about what's going on in- side the body. There is not real connection between the treatment and physiolo- gy. What is important is what relieves a certain symptom. • Dissection to learn about anatomy is also superfluous because it teaches us what goes on inside the body which we do not need to know. • It is also cruel and nasty. • Medicine is the act of healing and not harming so causing pain is a contradiction. • It also isn't relevant because the inside of the body will change when someone touches the body. The Empiricists say that this is useless because when the body is exposed to air everything else changes. • Medicine is that art of healing and not harming. So to not produce the death of per- son in medicine is kind of a contradiction and unbearable contradiction. Dissec- tion is necessary because it teaches you about parts in the body and this is nec- essary to know how they look in health. However, they argue as soon as you open the body and expose it to air it is useless. • Medicine is not learned by learning theori
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