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.
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.
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
Whether it be attempting to reconstruct the Milan medical milieu with which Leonardo was familiar, or his influence on portraiture drawing on the theory of the four humors
, or his tangential connection with early nature printing, the authors treat their subject with the requisite critical distance.
Capitalizing internet reminds me of 18th-century writers who would sprinkle capitalized words throughout their work--such as Honor or Shame or the Four Humors
so popular in medieval physiology.
Seen in the context of Renaissance scientific thought, an artist of Arcimboldo's background, education and stature would have certainly understood the importance of the four elements, as well as the four seasons, in relationship to the four humors
(also discussed in last month's Clip & Save Art Notes about Albrecht Durer's Melancholia I).
In truth, it is astonishing to behold, through a remarkable group of works on loan, the longevity of the posture of melancholy in painting, sculpture, and graphic arts across centuries during which the meaning of melancholia was continually reinvented: as frenzy, frustration, or despair; as a malady with natural causes (the imbalance of black bile, one of the four humors
, according to Hippocrates); as a divine affliction and a cosmic source of creative inspiration or genius, and of heroic deeds; as a realm of the tormented psyche populated by demons; as a force of nervous debilitation (first subjected to modern clinical observation during the late nineteenth century by Charcot); as a spiritual or philosophical preoccupation with death.
Most personality assessments pay homage, in one form or another, to Hippocrates' four humors