Here’s one I made earlier: the development and communication of ancient medical scientific theories through analogy and demonstration
University of Exeter
We find from the ancient medical texts of the Hippocratic physicians in the fifth century BCE and the writing of Galen in the second century CE that an effective way to explain a complex aetiological theory is to use analogy and demonstration. The use of analogy and demonstration varied, but a common theme was to compare a biological system to a production method from farming or industry. For example, there was a comparison between the separation of fluids in the body and the production of cheese. The fluids in the body were also compared to the creation of iron in a furnace. There were also practical demonstrations, such as showing how fluids move inside the body by constructing a water system using vessels connected by pipes. This paper will present the most common types of analogy and demonstration used by Hippocratic physicians and Galen, which provided an alternative explanation using more familiar concepts outside of the field of medical terminology. The focus will be on how these ancient physicians used analogy and demonstration to aid the understanding of the fundamental fluids in the body (for example, the humours: blood, phlegm, yellow and black bile), which could either promote health or cause disease. My aim is to investigate whether this type of methodology, using analogy and demonstration, was a useful way to explain complex medical theories to a diverse audience in the ancient Greek and Roman periods. This type of methodology is important, as the way that ancient writers used analogy and demonstration as an aid to educate others in the development of scientific theories can be compared to the way that science is taught in modern society, which in some cases, uses a similar process of analogy and demonstration.
PowerPoint presentation given as a paper at the PG Medical Humanities Conference 24th - 25th July 2014