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Philip van der Eijk

Transfer and Transformation of Ideas in the Interaction between Aristotelian Philosophy and Ancient Medical Thought

The close relationship and interaction between medicine and philosophy that started in the late 5th century BCE continued throughout antiquity (and beyond that into the Byzantine era), with a variety of theoretical positions and actual practices being adopted. The role of Aristotelian thought in this interaction is particularly interesting. A number of Aristotelian ideas and methodological approaches were received, transferred and transformed by ancient medical writers; at the same time, Aristotelian thinkers, and interpreters of Aristotle in late(r) antiquity, engaged with medical ideas in a variety of ways and contexts, ranging from transforming and updating Aristotle in the light of medical discoveries to defending Aristotelian doctrines against criticisms from medical and philosophical quarters. The close connection between medical and philosophical teaching in Alexandria (as exemplified by Stephanus) provides an illuminating institutional context to the intertwinement of the two disciplines.