Glen M. Cooper – The Possibility of a Scientific Medical Prognosis: Medicine and Astrology in Four Medieval Thinkers

 

Event Date: 26 May 2012
Royal Holloway, University of London
11 Bedford Sq
London WC1E 6DP

The Department of History Royal Holloway University of London presents:

Medical Prognosis in the Middle Ages

Glen M. Cooper (Brigham Young University)
The Possibility of a Scientific Medical Prognosis: Medicine and Astrology in Four Medieval Thinkers

Building on the theoretical foundations set by Galen and Abu Ma’shar (Albumasar), medicine and astrology were brought together during the Latin Middle Ages within a basically Aristotelian cosmology. Both astrology and medical prognosis had been subject to criticism since ancient times. However, in the Middle Ages, medicine and astrology became more closely associated in the educational and practical spheres than ever before, and so the question of the possibility of medical prognosis was closely connected with the efficaciousness of astrology. Part of a larger study of the historical relationship between these two disciplines, my paper considers the debate about the validity of astrology and astrological medicine in the writings of four medieval thinkers who assumed pro- or anti-astrological positions. In favour of astrology were Albertus Magnus and Pietro d’Abano. Neither of these men, however, merely accepted astrology without insisting on fundamentally revising parts of it. Against astrology were Moses Maimonides and Nicole Oresme. All were philosophers, and one from each side was a physician. By taking this approach, I hope to draw useful conclusions about this crucial period in the development of medical theory and practice.

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