theory and every turn in the current of treatises, he brings the remote causes of thought, often very shallow, the influence disease and general philosophical concluremains profound. Their language is an sions more into prominence. On the other unknown tongue to many, at least in so far hand, in taking up “The Prognostics” we as the finer shades of meaning or of sym- observe that it is entirely founded on obsermetry of form in their more recondite sense vation. If Hippocrates gathered this exare concerned. The charm of rhythm or perience from the records of clinical obserthe subtlety that goes with rhetorical vation made by himself and by other priests effect is often lost to us. Thus we might in the temples of Æsculapius, we find that proceed in an attempt to understand why the methods of observation, which served such men have dominated the thoughts of as the basis of a priestly and magical interposterity, but our endeavors at analysis are pretation, served also for the beginnings of defeated and we are driven to extend the rational medicine. How it came about that many definitions of genius to a pragmatical historians have ascribed to Hippocrates conclusion that success in its age-long the fame of being the first to question demonstration is the weightiest factor in nature would furnish an interesting and our understanding of genius. In this con- instructive example of how Baconians have nection, however, that is inclusive of that perverted the plain indications of history. boast of the old debauchee whom Shake- Evidence has shown Babylonian priests speare's art has created for us—they are taking meticulous care for unnumbered the cause of wit in others.

centuries in recording facts and their seNo remark, preliminary to the study of quences, phenomena they observed in the the writings of Hippocrates, is more help- heavens and in the entrails of animals and ful than the observation of Littré, who the mundane events, important to man, in substance pointed out that while to-day which followed the observations. They we study disease as an entity and follow observed and questioned nature, but they the forces of each one from their origin to did not reason right. their post-mortem manifestations, Hippoc- When Ermerins, whom Adams quotes, rates studied man and the reactions he made the remarks which follow he only exhibits to his manifold environment. It is partly disclosed the reform wrought in the phenomenon presented by man and the ranks of the Asclepiadæ, before the what it indicates as to the probable result epoch and during the time of Hippocrates, as regards man which he conceived as the who was their spokesman: chief object of medical study. It requires The readers must particularly keep before no very deep reflection to realize that there

their eyes this origin and the antiquity of is a material discrimination to be made those writings if they would pass a correct judgpsychologically between the concept of

ment on the merits of the Asclepiadæ towards

the art of medicine. Whatever in their works disease and the conception of a diseased

we have the pleasure of possessing, all attest man. For the former we seek the literature

the infancy of the art; many things are imperof medicine which has appeared in the

fect, and not unfrequently do we see them, while last hundred years, for the latter the litera- in the pursuit of truth, groping, as it were, and ture which, originating with Hippocrates, proceeding with uncertain steps, like men fills the thousands of years which have wandering about in darkness; but yet the elapsed since he in his time wrote “On

method which they applied, and to which they

would seem to have betaken themselves of their Ancient Medicine.” In this essay and in

own accord, was so excellent that nothing could the one following, “On Airs, Waters, and

It was the same method which Places,” more than in some of his other

surpass it.

Hippocrates himself always adopted, and which, 2 “The Dialogues of Plato,” tr. by B. Jowett. or at least of Hippocrates. Succinctly New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911. 4 v.

in fine, Lord Bacon, many ages afterward, stated, this method, which has achieved commended as the only instrument by which

such an apparent ascendancy in our day, truth in medicine can be found out.

is to proceed from the study of the particuAs a matter of fact they inherited their lar to the general, to collate facts by obsermethod from the rules of the practice of vation and experiment and from them to magic, the observation of the stars, the deduce the conclusions which are to be flight of birds and the entrails of animals. applied to the conduct of life and the further They turned from these observations to investigations of the laws of nature. observations on the phenomena of disease. In the quotation from the thesis of Dr. They recorded one just as they recorded Ermerins which Adams has made, it will the other, on the walls of temples and on be noted that Dr. Ermerins commends their tablets. What the Asclepiadæ really Hippocrates for being a Baconian. Nothdid was to turn away not from habits of ing, perhaps, is more diametrically opposed the observation of nature, which we cherish, to the doctrines of Bacon than those of but from irrational methods of thought. Plato, yet in one of his dialogues we find They reformed the rules of logic, but they him claiming Hippocrates' support. Socrates did not introduce the inductive method; in the “Phædrus” asks if the nature of it was already hoary with age.

the soul can be intelligently studied withAlthough Hippocrates criticised the out knowing the nature of the whole and methods of the Nature philosophers he the answer is: “Hippocrates, the Asclepiad, resorted almost as freely as they to theory says that this is the only method of probuilding. Dr. Ermerins himself basks in cedure by which the nature even of the body the comfort furnished by theories of vital can be understood.” Hippocrates was the force rampant in his day. The neovitalism slave of no method. He was the critic and of the nineteenth century had its roots the analyst not only of the problems of deep in human nature, and it still draws its nature, but of the methods of men who sustenance from that same fundamental sought to know them. mystery which shrouded cosmic laws from If we are to apply the Baconian doctrine the gaze of Babylonian and Baconian alike. rigorously and without the compromise The modern man of science must acknowl- that common sense gives to all things, the edge its existence, but when he tries to student cannot start with certain conclushelter himself from his difficulties in the sions of a general character, arrived at by practical search of truth by a resort to the methods of which he must necessarily be covert of vitalism he enters the tomb in ignorant, but he must begin ab initio and which the human mind was imprisoned build


his foundation from the apperbefore the era of Thales and of Hippocrates. ceptions of primitive man to the level of It was emancipation from this and not the his first entrance into medicine proper, or introduction of inductive philosophy, which in a state of entire ignorance he must face we owe to Hippocrates and his forbears. a task to which, even in Hippocrates' day, The inductive philosophy of Bacon was the a trained mind stored with the experience basis of the method that primitive man of others alone was adequate. Plato had adopted when he began to develop the his opinion how best to train that mind memory of his cognitions. To judge from and Hippocrates had another, but in the the conventional remarks in regard to it contact noted by Littré their point of one might suppose it had never existed in agreement, as evident to the most bigoted the world before the time of Lord Bacon,

Baconian as to Platonist, lay in the fact that training was as necessary for the beginning of the study of the soul as for the beginning of the study of the body.

The problem of the method of science is at once encountered in the first lines of “On Ancient Medicine":

Whoever, having undertaken to speak or write on ancient medicine have first laid down for themselves some hypothesis to their argument, such as hot or cold or moist or dry, or whatever else they choose, thus reducing their subject within a narrow compass and supposing only one or two original causes of disease or of death among mankind, are all clearly mistaken in much they say.

of “On Ancient Medicine,” in that essay itself and in others.

It is difficult to find the origin of the idea of the qualities, the moist, the dry, the hot, and the cold, which after the time of Hippocrates became increasingly more prominent in medical writings until Galen transmitted them through the Dark Ages and the Renaissance to almost our own century. Traces of the formulation of these attributes of matter may be found even in the “Rig Veda.” It is therefore of secondary importance to discover whom Hippocrates had in mind as the originator of the theories he attacked. Anaximenes, Parmenides, Anaxagoras,3 Heraclitus,4 and many other predecessors of Hippocrates doubtless made it a part of their scheme of things, but it originated with none of them. Like the elements of fire, air, earth, and water, like the blood, the breath, and the soul, as a definition of life they belong to the fundamentals in the primitive thought of mankind. These hypotheses, we are to infer from the remarks of Hippocrates and his followers, were to be avoided, but by no means the records of those observations of phenomena whereby the nature of disease had in the past been manifested to others:

There seems no reason to doubt the validity of the arguments Littré advances for supposing that the tract on “The Nature of Man” was written by Polybus, the sonin-law of Hippocrates, as Aristotle, almost a contemporary, asserts. In it, however, we get a reversion to the criticism Hippocrates thus visits upon the ancient Nature Philosophers in the opening sentences of his essay “On Ancient Medicine":

According to one, the air is the unique and only thing, to another fire, another water, another earth, and each one sustains his reasoning by evidence and arguments which are of weight. They pretend, indeed, that there is a single substance, arbitrarily chosen and named by each, and that this substance changes its appearance and its nature under the influence of the hot and the cold becoming in a manner soft, bitter, white, black and all the rest.

For there are practitioners, some bad and some far otherwise, which, if there had been no such thing as medicine, and if nothing had been investigated or found out in it, would not have been the case, but all would have been equally unskilled and ignorant of it, and everything concerning the sick would have been directed by chance.

He will have none of it and advances his own arguments, which partake of those of Alcmæon and the theory of crasis, of equilibrium of the mixtures in the blood, the mucus, the yellow and the black bile in which we find an explanation of the nature of man and what makes the difference between disease and health. He substitutes one theory for another, and in this he sins no more plainly than his father-inlaw, Hippocrates, against the first precepts

Then he proceeds to resume his fling at the Nature Philosophers who before him have adopted the hypotheses to which he specifically alludes:

3 “The First Philosophers of Greece," by Arthur Fairbanks. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1898.

4 "Early Greek Philosophy," by John Burnet. 2 ed. London: Adam & Charles Black, 1908.

I have not thought that it stood in need of As he sits there in prison awaiting among an empty hypothesis, like those subjects which

his weeping disciples the time for drinking are occult and dubious, in attempting to handle

the hemlock, his irony and his humor which it is necessary to use some hypothesis;

break forth: as, for example, with regard to things above us and things below the earth.

What hopes I had formed, and how grievousSingular to say, the Platonic Socrates ly was I disappointed! As I proceeded, I found rejected them for another reason—not be

my philosopher altogether forsaking mind or

any other principle of order, but having recourse cause they were too theoretical, but because

to air, and ether, and water, and other eccenthey were not theoretical enough, because tricities. I might compare him to a person who they were too materialistic, we would say. began by maintaining generally that mind is He remarked to Cebes in the “Phædo "5 the cause of the actions of Socrates, but who, that there was a time when he thought he

when he endeavored to explain the causes of understood what was what—"the meaning

my several actions in detail, went on to show

that I sit here because my body is made up of of greater and less pretty well”—but now

bones and muscles; and the bones, as he would “I am no longer satisfied that I understand

say, are hard and have ligaments which divide the reason why one or anything else either them, and the muscles are elastic, and they cover is generated or destroyed or is at all, but I the bones, which have also a covering or environhave in my mind some confused notion of ment of flesh and skin which contains them; another method, and can never admit this.”

and as the bones are lifted at their joints by

the contraction or relaxation of the muscles, He had once been much troubled about

I am able to bend my limbs, and this is why I such matters.

am sitting here in a curved posture; that is

what he would say, and he would have a similar Then I heard some one who had a book of Anaxagoras, as he said, out of which he read

explanation of my talking to you, which he

would attribute to sound and air, and hearing, that mind was the disposer and cause of all,

and he would assign ten thousand other causes and I was quite delighted at the notion of this, which appeared admirable, and I said to myself:

of the same sort, forgetting to mention the

true cause, which is, that the Athenians have If mind is the disposer, mind will dispose all

thought fit to condemn me, and accordingly for the best, and put each particular in the best

I have thought it better and more right to place; and I argued that if any one desired to

remain here and undergo my sentence; for I find out the cause of the generation or destruc

am inclined to think that these muscles and tion or existence of anything, he must find out

bones of mine would have gone off to Megara what state of being or suffering or doing was best for that thing, and therefore a man had

or Boeotia, by the dog of Egypt they would,

if they had been guided only by their own idea only to consider the best for himself and others, and then he would also know the worse, for

of what was best, and if I had not chosen as

the better and nobler part, instead of playing that the same science comprised both. And I rejoiced to think that I had found in Anaxagoras

truant and running away, to undergo any

punishment which the state inflicts. There a teacher of the causes of existence such as I

is surely a strange confusion of causes and desired, and I imagined that he would tell me

conditions in all this. It may be said, indeed, first whether the earth is flat or round; and then

that without bones and muscles and the other he would further explain the cause and the

parts of the body I cannot execute my purposes. necessity of this, and would teach me the nature

But to say that I do as I do because of them, of the best and show that this was best; and if he said that the earth was in the center, he

and that this is the way in which mind acts, and

not from the choice of the best, is a very carewould explain that this position was the best,

less and idle mode of speaking. and I should be satisfied if this were shown to me, and not want any other sort of cause.


suppose reasoning of this kind taken as 5 “The Dialogues of Plato,” tr. by B. Jowett.

a model for logic ultimately led to the quips New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911.4 v. and plays on words and puerilities found in many of the books of the pre-renaissance prefer to believe with Zeno and Socrates period. Here half in jest, half in earnest in that the mind is an organ of the voice, and the mouth of Socrates, sitting there awaiting that Galen's criticism is a confused and death, Plato has put it in a strikingly presumptuous tampering with logic and dramatic setting. It is not ridiculous and dialectics, in which he was practiced but pedantic; it is saved from that by the trag- in which he was not an adept. I may have edy of the scene, which has indeed become seemed to wander a little from the subject one of the great world tragedies for us. This of the method of science, but the matter I saving grace of the sublime has preserved have introduced serves to illustrate that it for us the grain of truth which lies in much is not sufficient experimentally to cut or of the chaff of Socrates, which was lost in stimulate the recurrent laryngeal nerves the maudlin pedantry of monastic philoso- and to observe the sequence of events; phy. I do not know whether or not Galen it is necessary to take into view the differalso was jesting, but this Socratic discourse ences between a man's voice and that of a always reminds me of what he says of the pig. Those who are familiar with the recurrent laryngeal nerves to which I technical experiences elicited from an exhave elsewhere drawn attention. At any perimental study of the laryngeal nerves a rate he sets forth the argument also in generation ago will appreciate the necessity anatomical terms and ascribes it to the for the erection of some hypothesis looking Stoics. If that is so, the Platonic dialogue to this discrimination. The acceptation of I have quoted probably is influenced by theory erected on the experience of others the same sophism. Galen says the Stoics and rationalistic deductions from it are reasoned thus: “It is evident the voice absolutely necessary for progression beyond cometh from the mind. It is also evident it the possibilities of mental activity open to cometh from the larynx. Hence the mind is primitive man. not in the brain." Galen demolished this Littré has included in his edition of the sophism thus:

complete works of Hippocrates a little They will wonder when they hear the voice tractate of unknown authorship, “The is produced from the brain, and much more Precepts.” In it we get a glimpse of the after having heard that all voluntary motion is opinions of Hippocrates. It is elaborated performed by the muscles. . . . For the mus

from the passages we are concerned with cles move certain parts upon which the breath

in the essay “On Ancient Medicine" or ing and the voice depend, and they themselves in their turn are dependent on the nerves from

from some of the other genuine books. the brain. If you surround any one of these with

Perhaps it is from his own hand. I think a ligature, or if you cut it, you will render the the sentiments there expressed perhaps are muscle to which it is distributed motionless, as a nearer approach to the method of Hippocwell as the limb of the animal which has moved

rates than the Baconian which has been before the nerve was cut.

foisted on him by the distorted vision of I take it this is satisfactory to twentieth more recent admirers. He who knows that century materialists, but after all the pigs in time occurs the opportunity and in the on whom Galen seems to have experimented opportunity a brief time: have a larynx and recurrent nerves, and however learned they may be at the circus,

In order to practice medicine, should devote

himself not at first to the probability of reasona four-legged variety do not talk, so I

ing, but to reasoned experience. Reasoning is “History of Laryngology,” by Jonathan Wright. a sort of synthesis of all that has been perceived 2d ed. revised and enlarged. Philadelphia and New by the senses. ... I praise, therefore, all the York: Lea & Febiger, 1914.

reasoning faculty, if it takes its departure from

« ElőzőTovább »