The lecture will provide a look at medicine as one of the key components of culture.
Curing people requires an understanding of the very nature of disease. The history of medicine knows a variety of such understandings and theories. The ancient peoples saw illness as an evil spirit that invades a person. Over time, rational curing practices based on the exploration of anatomy and physiology of the human body have emerged alongside mystical forms of medicine. Modern day medicine is a complex phenomenon that embraces scientific, humanitartian, and technical disciplines and is aimed at the preservation of human health. The ethical aspect of the relationship between doctor and patient remains one of the most problematic issues, however.
“…practitioners of this sort never talk to their patients individually, or let them talk about their own individual complaints? The slave doctor prescribes what mere experience suggests, as if he had exact knowledge; and when he has given his orders, like a tyrant, he rushes off with equal assurance to some other servant who is ill… But the other doctor, who is a freeman, attends and practices upon freemen; and he carries his enquiries far back, and goes into the nature of the disorder; he enters into discourse with the patient and with his friends, and is at once getting information from the sick man, and also instructing him as far as he is able, and he will not prescribe for him until he has first convinced him… […] Now which is the better way of proceeding in a physician and in a trainer? Is he the better who accomplishes his ends in a double way, or he who works in one way, and that the ruder and inferior?”
(Plato. The Laws. Transl. by Benjamin Jowett)