Reinventing Hippocrates

Reinventing Hippocrates
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  • Edited by David Cantor, National Cancer Institute, USA
  • Series: The History of Medicine in Context
  • The name of Hippocrates has been invoked as an inspiration of medicine since antiquity, and medical practitioners have turned to Hippocrates for ethical and social standards. While most modern commentators accept that medicine has sometimes fallen short of Hippocratic ideals, these ideals are usually portrayed as having a timeless appeal, departure from which is viewed as an aberration that only a return to Hippocratic values will correct.

    Recent historical work has begun to question such an image of Hippocrates and his medicine. Instead of examining Hippocratic ideals and values as an unchanging legacy passed to us from antiquity, historians have increasingly come to explore the many different ways in which Hippocrates and his medicine have been constructed and reconstructed over time. Thus scholars have tended to abandon attempts to extract a real Hippocrates from the mass of conflicting opinions about him. Rather, they tend to ask why he was portrayed in particular ways, by particular groups, at particular times.

    This volume explores the multiple uses, constructions, and meanings of Hippocrates and Hippocratic medicine since the Renaissance, and elucidates the cultural and social circumstances that shaped their development. Recent research has suggested that whilst the process of constructing and reconstructing Hippocrates began during antiquity, it was during the sixteenth century that the modern picture emerged. Many scholastic endeavours today, it is claimed, are attempts to answer Hippocratic questions first posed in the sixteenth century. This book provides an opportunity to begin to evaluate such claims, and to explore their relevance in areas beyond those of classical scholarship.
  • Contents: Introduction: the uses and meanings of Hippocrates, David Cantor; Renaissance Constructions of Hippocratism: The power of paternity: the father of medicine meets the prince of physicians, Helen King; Hippocrates and the construction of ‘progress’ in 16th and 17th-century medicine, Thomas Rütten; The chemical Hippocrates: Paracelsian and Hippocratic theory in Petrus Severinus’ medical philosophy, Jole Shackelford; The Transformations of Hippocratism in 17th- and 18th-century Britain: The transformation of Hippocrates in 17th-century Britain, Andrew Cunningham; Hippocrates and the politics of medical knowledge in early modern England, Robert L. Martensen; Hippocrates, Bacon and medical meteorology at the Royal Society, 1700–1750, Andrea Rusnock; Hippocratism in 18th- and 19th-century France and North America: Hippocrates and the Montpellier Vitalists in the French Medical Enlightenment, Elizabeth A. Williams; The rhetoric of Hippocrates at the Paris School, Ann F. La Berge; Making history in American medical culture: the Antebellum Competition for Hippocrates, John Harley Warner; 20th-century Hippocratic Revivals: Hippocrates American style: representing professional morality in early 20th-century America, Susan E. Lederer; Hippocrates, holism and humanism in interwar France, George Weisz; The name and the word: neo-Hippocratism and language in inter-war Britain, David Cantor; A model for the new physician: Hippocrates in interwar Germany, Carsten Timmermann; Index.
  • Reviews: ‘...stimulating and accessible...superb collection of essays by international scholars, under the judicious editorship of David Cantor.’ The Lancet

    '... What a good idea this was for a book... not only a good idea in theory but also a well-executed one in practice... An introduction and thirteen essays of a uniformly high standard address the theme without straying... a most rewarding read about a man who was all things to all doctors.' Medical History

    '... these fine articles illuminate a legacy that has previously been subjected to limited analytic reflection, and they will provide a provocative point of reference for medical historians of many different periods.' British Journal for the History of Science