It is a little difficult to know who is the right audience for this book, which is elementary in some regards (laying out the theory of the four humors
, defining "norm"), and advanced in others (quoting Middle English without translation, including thorns and yoghs).
If the temperament of the larynx is damp, he says, but without the "influence of humor"--by which he presumably means that the four humors
or temperaments are not in balance--the voice will be dark, obscure, and confused, (13) but if it is damp with a balance of humors, it will be rough or hoarse.
He also believed that one cause of disease was the imbalance of the four humors
or fluids in the body (namely blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile).
For the past two decades, ever since Gail Kern Paster's landmark study The Body Embarrassed (Cornell, 1993), scholars have extensively researched how Galenic medical theory, with its emphasis on the fluctuation and balance of the four humors
, shaped early modern notions of the body, affect, emotions, and environment.
Do the four elements "correspond to the four humors
of the Galenic body" (21)?
They then concentrate on practice, including discerning when the four humors
became fundamental to medieval Islamic medical practice, complexion and experiment, tibb in India, Mesoamerican heat and cold in diet and health, balance in East Africa, anger in Chinese medicine, the golden rule of Ayurveda, Tibetan healing practices, and the medical-moral nexus of moderation.
The scientific debunking of false beliefs is as relevant today as it was when skeptics took a good look at bloodletting, alchemy, and the balancing of the four humors
in the pursuit of good health.
The relationship between the four humors
and the psychological play of feelings and desires is only analogical, yet Kant adheres to the symmetrical division of the four temperaments without authorizing their designation according to chemical blood mixture.
Classical Greece had a similar philosophy of cuisine (probably imported from China) and named four humors
(blood black bile yellow bile phlegm) and their essences (heat cold dry moist).
Lazure says April Fools Day is all about humiliation and notes that in the medical field the four humors
were identified as black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood.
The author also examines the historical and psychological reasons why belief in such systems of medicine as Galen's four humors
persisted for millennia despite advances in the field.
Owen will be the timpani soloist in his own composition, "The Four Humors