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Books > History > World > 0060731176
  1. Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours
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  2. Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours

    Delivery: 10-20 Working Days
    Customer Ratings (8 reviews)
    Price R556.00

Additional Information

Physicians in ancient Greece believed four humours flowed within the human body—blood, phlegm, black bile, and choler—determining a person's health, mood, and character. Not until the seventeenth century would a more complex view of the anatomy begin to emerge. But by then humoural theory had already become deeply ingrained in Western language and thought—and endures to this day in surprising ways.

Interweaving the histories of medicine, science, psychology, and philosophy, Passions and Tempers explores the uncanny persistence of these variable, invisible fluids. It will change how we view our physical, mental, and emotional selves.

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Noga Arikha
Harper Perennial
Harper Perennial
Harper Perennial
Harper Perennial
Harper Perennial
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

This is an illuminating, marvelous, and captivating book. As a work of scholarship it recounts in fascinating detail the history of humours, those mysterious forces that, it was believed for more than 2000 years, govern our bodies and minds. In the last century, of course, scientific research has discredited the theory; today, humours are regarded by many as an embarrassing artifact of ignorance and superstition, the equivalent of "the world is flat" or "the sun revolves around the earth." But humoural theory remains nonetheless one of the great achievements of the human imagination, an often beautiful, subtle and complex effort to understand our nature. Arikha has not only written a rich account of humoural medicine before the modern era (the book contains many extraordinary historical prints of the body) she has also brought to life this deep philosophical music. The many great thinkers who applied themselves to humoural theory sought to transcend the alienation from which we all... Read more
Arikha has tackled a rich and challenging subject, nothing less than explaining humoural theory, a medical model that dominated the Western and Arabic worlds for thousands of years. This wonderful book lucidly traces the evolution of this complex thinking over time. And she does a great job of showing how the model and its metaphors still influence our language and thinking today. It's a welcome addition to the long bibliography of studies that show how ancient ideas and beliefs still resonate in our time and is a worthy successor to the many similar projects produced by earlier generations of Warburg Intstitute-trained scholars. Read it if you're interested in medical history or in the many ways humans have tried to make sense of the different ways our bodies and our minds experience and perceive the world around us.
I am amazed at the riches in this book, a history of our thinking about our mind/body -- the lively, learned writing, the fascinating detail, the accessible explanations of exotic material. It's therapeutically humbling in its rendition of what the author calls "the fragility of our embodied selves;" provocatively humbling too in its sly teasing of our nwarranted confidence that in this scientific age we, unlike our ancestors, are somehow free of superstition.
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