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The Nature of the Soul and the Passage of Blood through the Lungs. Galen, Ibn al-Nafīs, Servetus, İtaki, ‘Aṭṭār

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Chapter Summary

The case of Ibn Al-Nafīs' description of the pulmonary transit of the blood is the main subject of this chapter. When Ibn Al-Nafīs criticises established medical authorities such as Galen and Avicenna, we have to consider his philosophical and religious commitments as well as the medical aspects of his work. It is not surprising to find that the physiology of the soul, from a primarily theological viewpoint, may well take precedence over anatomical empiricism regarding the structure and function of the heart, lungs, and the connecting major blood vessels. However, when Ibn Al-Nafīs, Miguel Servet, Şemsettin İtaki, Ḥasan al-‘Aṭṭār, and finally the twentieth-century historians of medicine talk about the structure and function of the cardio-pulmonary system, they are not speaking of the same 'thing', even where they may (or may not) be taking their cues from their respective 'predecessors'.

Keywords:Şemsettin İtaki; Ḥasan al-‘Aṭṭār; Avicenna; blood vessels; cardio-pulmonary system; Galen; human soul; Ibn Al-Nafīs; lungs; Servetus

10.1163/9789004229204_016
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