• Complexion, Temperament and Four Humor Theory in the Renaissance

    Author(s):
    Elisabeth Moreau (see profile)
    Date:
    2020
    Subject(s):
    Medicine, Middle Ages, Sixteenth century, Seventeenth century, Philosophy, Renaissance
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Tag(s):
    Medieval and early modern medicine, Renaissance philosophy
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/5p4h-d602
    Abstract:
    A central concept in Galenic medicine, the temperament designates the state of health resulting from the balance of the four humors: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile (or melancholy). Produced in the liver during digestion, the humors stem from the mixture of the primary qualities (hot, cold, dry, and moist) related to the four elements (air, fire, water, and earth). The notion of temperament was fundamental for theoretical and practical medical branches, from physiology and pathology to therapeutics and dietetics. It defines the physical constitution of all living beings as well as food, drugs, and natural things in general. In therapeutics, the patient’s humoral imbalance is cured by a qualitatively “contrary” remedy, an appropriate diet or by surgical means such as bloodletting and clyster. Because temperament also involves the mixture of elements, it gave rise to long-standing debates in medieval and Renaissance philosophy about the status of the elements in the compound, in particular their qualities, matter, and form.
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    Published as:
    Book chapter    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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