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Hippocrates pursuit of truth

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BC: A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.

FC: Hippocrates and the Pursuit of Truth | Stefan Pruessmann

1: Hippocrates pursued truth when he formed his Hippocratic Theory, which stated that diseases aren't caused by the gods, but occur naturally. This was revolutionary in Greece, where anything good and bad was attributed to the gods. He stated that disease was caused by a mix of diet, fitness, and environmental factors (for example, people that live in a milder climate will most likely live longer than people that live in a colder climate).

2: There were 2 main schools of medicine in Greece: the Knidian school and the Koan school. The Knidian school focused mainly on diagnosis, while the Koan school focused mainly on prognosis. Hippocrates was part of the Koan school. He focused mainly on general diagnosis's, not specific ones used today.

3: Whenever a doctor cannot do good, he must be kept from doing harm. -Hippocrates | The Hippocratic Oath was Hippocrates's pursuit of truth. He wished to make an oath that forbade the harming of patients and set a code of rules for doctors both then and now. However, some of the rules set then are out of place today. For example, one rule says "I will not use the knife", which is in direct contrast of what surgeons do.

4: Here is listed the full Hippocratic Oath: I swear by Apollo the physician, and Asclepius, and Hygieia and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses as my witnesses, that, according to my ability and judgement, I will keep this Oath and this contract: To hold him who taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents, to be a partner in life with him, and to fulfill his needs when required; to look upon his offspring as equals to my own siblings, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or contract; and that by the set rules, lectures, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to students bound by this contract and having sworn this Oath to the law of medicine, but to no others. I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgement, and I will do no harm or injustice to them. I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion. In purity and according to divine law will I carry out my life and my art.

5: I will not use the knife, even upon those suffering from stones, but I will leave this to those who are trained in this craft. Into whatever homes I go, I will enter them for the benefit of the sick, avoiding any voluntary act of impropriety or corruption, including the seduction of women or men, whether they are free men or slaves. Whatever I see or hear in the lives of my patients, whether in connection with my professional practice or not, which ought not to be spoken of outside, I will keep secret, as considering all such things to be private. So long as I maintain this Oath faithfully and without corruption, may it be granted to me to partake of life fully and the practice of my art, gaining the respect of all men for all time. However, should I transgress this Oath and violate it, may the opposite be my fate.

6: The Caduceus is a staff carried by Hermes. Nowadays, it is the symbol of hospitals and medical things in general. However, the American people have confused the Caduceus and the Rod of Aesculapius. The Rod was carried by Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine. Hippocrates would have seen it often and may even have put it above his school of medicine. This is supported by the fact that the opening line of the Hippocratic oath is "I swear by Apollo the Physician (god of healers) and by Aesculapius". However, somewhere in history someone confused the Rod of Aesculapius and The Caduceus. A survey found that 62% of of professional healthcare associations use the Rod as their symbol. However, the same survey found that 76% of commercial healthcare associations use the Caduceus as their symbol.

7: One thing that Hippocrates sought to understand (again, pursuit of truth) that weren't very funny were the four humors. The four humors were phlegm, black bile, yellow bile, and blood. Each humor had a season and an element. Black bile had autumn for a season, and earth as its element. Phlegms element was water, and its season was winter. Bloods season was spring, and its element was air. Yellow biles season was summer, and its element was fire. He also believed that the key to being healthy was keeping the humors in balance. They were balanced by cutting the patient and letting them bleed, in the hope that the "bad humor" (or puns) would drain out and make room for "good humor" (like satire). They even gave personalities to each humor. For example, blood was courageous, amorous, and hopeful.

8: Hippocrates died in 370 BC. However, his legacy still lives on. He will be forever remembered for (obviously) the Hippocratic Oath. To this day, he is considered one of the "fathers of modern medicine", despite the fact that he did his work 400 years before Christ was born. There is even an award called the "Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine", awarded to UK medical students and poets.

9: This is what may be the oldest tree in Europe. This tree is where Hippocrates taught his sons and his students. It is called the tree of Hippocrates, and it still stands today on the island of Kos. And, Hippocrates's teachings about humors were used well into the medieval age. This is his legacy.

11: Sources:,r:10,s:0,i:174&tx=120&ty=33 Margotta, Roberto (1968), The Story of Medicine, New York: Golden Press. Leff, Samuel; Leff, Vera. (1956), From Witchcraft to World Health, London and Southampton: Camelot Press Ltd..,r:10,s:0,i:113&surl=1 Friedlander, Walter J (1992). The Golden Wand of Medicine: A History of the Caduceus symbol in medicine. Greenwood Press.

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  • Title: Hippocrates pursuit of truth
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