DOI: 10.17720/2409-5834.v4.4.2017.01a

Dmitry A. Balalykin,
Nataliya P. Shok
FSAEI HE I.M. Sechenov First MSMU MOH Russia (Sechenov University)
8 Trubetskaya St., building 2, Moscow 119991, Russia

The authors of this article consider the influence of the Pythagoreans’ views on medicine. They justify two significant for the history and philosophy of medicine theses. The first one is the lack of influence of the Pythagoreans on the formation and development of an independent medical school. The second is the fallacy of the assertion that the medical views of some representatives of ancient medicine (the most famous of which is Alcmaeon) were formed solely under the influence of the ideas of the Pythagoreans. Alcmaeon, who is traditionally identified with the followers of the Pythagorean teaching, formed fundamental statements for further development of ancient Greek rational medicine (the thesis about the controlling role of the brain, etc.). The main argument against Alcmaeon’s attributing to the Pythagorean school is his idea of the central control function of the brain. In terms of the birth and development of medicine as a science, Alcmaeon is the direct predecessor of Hippocrates and Herophilus. The interdisciplinary approach, as well as authors’ scientific developments related to the reconstruction of the history and philosophy of ancient medicine, allow the authors to conclude that the Pythagorean doctrine has dual nature because of the rational and occult/magical elements in it. It is a serious reason for not overestimating the importance of Pythagorean philosophy for the development of medicine. Pythagorean teaching could not become a fundamental system of views, which was the basis for the formation of a picture of the world of the first generations of representatives of ancient Greek rational medicine and separate medical schools. However, this fact does not deny the possibility of influence of some Pythagorean ideas on the representatives of the ancient physicians in the broadest ideological sense.

Keywords: history of medicine, history of science, Pythagoreans, ancient philosophy, ancient Greek rational medicine

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