A.P. Shcheglov, Professor at the Department of the History of Medicine,

National History and Culturology

I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, The Ministry of Health

of the Russian Federation, Moscow (Russian Federation)

This article analyzes the terminology of Galen; in particular, it deals with the philosophical and symbolic meaning of “nerve”, which is often found in his works. It is demonstrated that the word “nerve” refers to thin filaments passing through the human body, providing it with the ability to move. For this reason, “nerves” can be defined as particular channels for the materialization of immaterial, potential “power”. According to Galen, the structure of the nervous system in humans is analogous to the structure of the world, permeated by many threads, channels through which flows energy that controls the universe. The article not only examines the term “nerve” and the real object designated by the word, but also its metaphysical sense. Based on the author’s analysis, the article attempts to find out the true meaning of the term and concept of “nerve”, which indicates not only a purely medical phenomenon, but also another, immaterial dimension. Thus, the scope for the understanding of “nerve” widens: it is not only a conventional sign and a term, but also a symbol. In turn, viewing the term “nerve” as a symbol helps us to understand the essential identity of the speculative ideas of natural things. The “nerve” symbol contains an image (the term) and a real phenomenon, but is not limited to them, because it implies the presence of a certain sense, inseparably fused with the image and embodiment of the real, but they are not identical. The article identifies and substantiates the necessity for sharing methods of philosophical and linguistic analysis in the process of interpretation. On the basis of this research, the author proposes to distinguish between the meaning and significance of concepts designated by specific terms, and organize the next logical, interpretative chain – a “sign – meaning – value”. Within the boundaries of this system, significance refers to the subject area correlated with a certain name (word), or term. Meaning refers to a certain point of view that helps to explore this subject area. In the case of the concept being studied, the established view is considered with the philosophical and symbolic meaning of the word “nerve”, used in the writings of Galen.

Keywords: Galen, nerve, nature, action, energy, property, symbol, medicine

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Published in Vol. 3. №4, 2015

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