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Public lecture on Galen by Prof. Philip van der Eijk

Professor Philip van der Eijk (Humboldt University, Berlin) will deliver a public lecture on Galen. All welcome!


Thursday 2 November, 5-6.30 pm

Ramphal building, main campus, room 1.13

The lecture will be followed by a reception. To help us with catering planning, please register your participation by Friday, 27 October 2023 (end of day) with Ms. Susan Doughty,

Professor van der Eijk has kindly provided the following title and abstract:

'Galen on what medicine can contribute to philosophy'


This paper examines Galen’s views on the relationship between medicine and (natural) philosophy. It argues that while Galen considers a thorough command of philosophy of the utmost importance to good medical theory and practice, he is also of the opinion that medicine can make a valuable contribution to philosophy, especially natural philosophy. This is because doctors can draw on two sources of evidence pertinent to the study of nature: their clinical experience with diseases and patients, and their use of dissection. Accordingly, Galen confidently uses these resources in order to tackle questions of natural philosophy and to enhance understanding of the natural world, especially Nature’s purposive design in the construction of living bodies; and in his work On the Function of the Parts, he encourages his readers/students to do the same. Yet there seems to be a tension between Galen’s enthusiastic engagement with natural philosophy and the fact that on other occasions he explicitly eliminates certain questions from discussion because they belong to the domain of the ‘natural problems’. Is there a contradiction here?


Speaker short bio:


Philip van der Eijk (1962) is Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Classics and History of Science at the Humboldt University in Berlin. His research interests include ancient medicine and science, ancient philosophy (especially Aristotle), early Christian literature, and comparative literature.


Professor van der Eijk held Fellowships at All Souls College, Oxford (2009), the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS) (2000–2001) and was Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2006). He was awarded the Ausonius Prize from the University of Trier for outstanding achievements in classical scholarship (2006). He is Associé Etranger de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, Institut de France (since 2023), Foreign Member of the Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen (Royal Netherlands Society of Sciences) (since 2014), Member of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften (since 2012) and Corresponding Member of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) (since 2006).

This event is funded by the Humanities Research Centre, Warwick and the Department of Classics and Ancient History.

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