D.A. Balalykin, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor,
Chairman of the Department of the History of Medicine, National History and Culturology
I.M. Sechenov First Moscow Medical University, The Ministry of Health
of the Russian Federation, Moscow (Russian Federation)
The present article is the second part of a historical-medical commentary on Galen’s treatise “Ars Medica”, translated from the ancient Greek. The author of the present article will argue that interpreting Galen’s natural philosophical concepts and terminology requires us to appreciate the interdisciplinary character of his approach to medicine and to analyze its contents in a wider general-theoretical philosophical context. “Ars Medica” contains important assertions of a general scientific (philosophical and medical) character. In this work, Galen presents his vision of general principals of pathology, and summarizes his views on the basic problems of practical medicine. Galen frequently defends the principle of teleology, and, in order to support his opinion, turns to the idea of homoeomeries, one of the fundamental concepts in his medical philosophical system. With a certain amount of conventionality, it is possible to think of Galen’s view of homoeomeries as proto-scientific. In his opinion, the mechanisms underlying the development of a multi-staged illness could be manifested at the homoeomeric level. Examining the process in question, Galen starts from the assumption that a normative state is distinguished from a pathological state by the extent to which an organ retains the ability to carry out its functions. Natural philosophical concepts are illustrated with practical examples. In “Ars Medica”, Galen enumerates the basic criteria, which in his opinion allow us to distinguish a state of health from a state of disease. Galen places special emphasis on the principles of treatment and disease prevention. His judgments are based on data gathered as a result of his practical medical work.
Keywords: history and philosophy of medicine, Galen, “Ars Medica”, pathology, homoeomeries