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From Doubt to Certainty. Aspects of the Conceptualisation and Interpretation of Galen’s Natural Pneuma

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Chapter Summary

The physician-philosopher Galen of Pergamum was one of the foremost exponents of anatomical science. Galen's physiology has not, until relatively recently, received comparable attention. This is unfortunate as Galenic physiology was not only greatly influential, but was also, due to Galenism's subsequent and relentless drive to codify, almost uniformly misrepresented from its inception. Whilst it is true that Galen does mention natural pneuma only once, and in deliberately vague terms. However, Galenic physiology was interpreted and transmitted as a fully operational tripartite system. This chapter presents Galen's physiology in its own terms, and outlines aspects of its transmission focusing on pivotal role of ?unayn ibn Is?aq in particular. Such an examination is not only instructive in purely historical terms, but should serve as a salutary reminder, by virtue of the length of its transmission, of the power and longevity of pneuma as an analogical model, especially in non-experimental physiological systems.

Keywords:Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq; analogical model; conceptualisation; Galen; Galenic physiology; Galenism; natural pneuma; tripartite system



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