Alcmeon’s and Hippocrates’s Concept of Aetia

  • D. Z. Andriopoulos
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 121)


The objective of this paper is to discuss and elucidate the meaning of the key-term aetia, used by Alcmeon and Hippocrates in their medical research and theoretical frameworks. In particular, it purports to (a) identify, present and compare the concept of aetia and specific causal patterns utilized by them in either exegetic or prognostic modes, (b) show their general philosophical assumptions and (c) point out repercussions upon philosophical problems. Textual evidence and supporting information from secondary sources are used to corroborate the present interpretation. The two physicians-thinkers, it must be stated in advance, given the historical distance, should not be expected to offer sophisticated theories of etiology, formally organized in a strict sense, and applied with preciseness. The variations of their causal schemata do not appear to have the subtleties and the over-elaborated interrelations as used in the contemporary epistemological apparatus. However, from a historical viewpoint it is of paramount importance to show that these physicians were conscious of the general causal pattern C-E, its functional effectiveness and practicability in their investigations. Both consciously and overtly used and often assumed it in either explaining or predicting the development of special medical cases.


Causal Connection Textual Evidence Greek Philosophy Sophisticated Theory Causal Pattern 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Z. Andriopoulos
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ThessalonkiGreece

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