As early as 3,000 years ago, physicians in Mesopotamia and Egypt treated patients with herbal drugs, salts, physical therapy, and faith healing. The "father of medicine," however, is usually considered to be the Greek physician
Chapter 1 Major Themes of Anatomy and Physiology 3
Hippocrates (c. 460-c. 375 b.c.e.). He and his followers established a code of ethics for physicians, the Hippo-cratic Oath, that is still recited in modern form by many graduating medical students. Hippocrates urged physicians to stop attributing disease to the activities of gods and demons and to seek their natural causes, which could afford the only rational basis for therapy. Aristotle (384-322 b.c.e.) believed that diseases and other natural events could have either supernatural causes, which he called theologi, or natural ones, which he called physici or physiologi. We derive such terms as physician and physiology from the latter. Until the nineteenth century, physicians were called "doctors of physic." In his anatomy book, Of the Parts of Animals, Aristotle tried to identify unifying themes in nature. Among other points, he argued that complex structures are built from a smaller variety of simple components—a perspective that we will find useful later in this chapter.
_Think About It_
When you have completed this chapter, discuss the relevance of Aristotle's philosophy to our current thinking about human structure.
Claudius Galen (129-c. 199), physician to the Roman gladiators, wrote the most noteworthy medical textbook of the ancient era—a book that was worshiped to excess by medical professors for centuries to follow. Cadaver dissection was banned in Galen's time because of some horrid excesses that preceded him, including dissection of living slaves and prisoners merely to satisfy an anatomist's curiosity or to give a public demonstration. Galen was limited to learning anatomy from what he observed in treating gladiators' wounds and by dissecting pigs, monkeys, and other animals. Galen saw science as a process of discovery, not as a body of fact to be taken on faith. He warned that even his own books could be wrong, and advised his followers to trust their own observations more than they trusted any book. Unfortunately, his advice was not heeded. For nearly 1,500 years, medical professors dogmatically taught what they read in Aristotle and Galen, and few dared to question the authority of these "ancient masters."
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This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.