Honorable Professor of the History of Medicine
University Paris Descartes (France)
Galen was a philosopher and a physician all his life, paying particular attention to the importance of anatomy. Such issues as the localization of parts of the soul, such as the hegemonikon, can be addressed with anatomical demonstrations, which are the means to refute, for example, stoic theories. What’s more, between his philosophical approach and anatomical practice, one could find many analogies through the method and use of analysis, guided observation, differentiation of several parts etc. For instance, his preference for the concept of three parts of the soul, with their specific properties and interactions, could be related to this practice. Also the comparison between two late treatises, the “De motibus obscuris” and the “De moribus” shows a continuity between his approach of anatomo-physiology and moral philosophy. Beyond the dichotomy between rational and irrational parts of the soul, voluntary or involuntary movement, both treatises reveal Galen’s new preference to think in terms of interactions in anatomo-physiology as well as in moral philosophy, in order to overcome some difficulties of interpretation related to strict dichotomies. He appears more and more interested in forging new tools to approach the complexity of biological and psychological actions and behaviors.
Keywords: Galen, anatomy, medical education, method, observation, soul