The Primacy of the Practical

Paul U. Unschuld

in What Is Medicine?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780520257658
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944701 | DOI:
The Primacy of the Practical

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China and Europe both looked back to antiquity, but with totally different preconditions. The rulers in China separated pharmacy from medicine. The physicians in China were employees, dependents of the pharmacist. The nature of the new healing that originated in the High and Late Middle Ages is also noteworthy. Practical concerns predominated and prescription books were written and widely disseminated. The celebrated Antidotarium Nicolai originated as early as the second half of the twelfth century and it replaced the older and useless Antidotarius magnus. The arrangement of the prescriptions in the Antidotarium Nicolai did not follow indication groups or a theoretical classification of illnesses, but rather a simple morphologic scheme, from the head down. The profession of pharmacist did not originate in Europe until the twelfth century. Pharmacists were responsible for producing medications. In Europe, since Galen, no one had even dissected an animal, let alone a human, to study its structure and function. There is no evidence that the Church officially prohibited dissection.

Keywords: pharmacy; medicine; Late Middle Ages; medications; Arab traditions; Greek models

Chapter.  1265 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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