Advanced Ionic civilization and its scientific knowledge

The reason for proficiency in writing and possibly conversing in Ionic, particularly in scientific debates, can only be attributed to the profound impact of the advanced Ionic civilization and its scientific knowledge. The presence of doctors in Greece was a longstanding tradition, but the practice of healing did not evolve into a systematic and purposeful scientific discipline until it was influenced by Ionian natural philosophy.

The significance of this fact should not be overshadowed by the very anti-philosophical stance of the Hippocratic school, which is where we encounter Greek medicine for the first time. If it were not for the earliest Ionian natural philosophers who sought a ‘natural’ explanation for all events, diligently traced every effect to its cause, and demonstrated how the interconnected chain of causes and effects formed an essential universal order, and firmly believed that the mysteries of the world could be uncovered through unbiased observation and rationality, the field of medicine would not have evolved into a scientific discipline.

The records recorded by the physicians of the Pharaohs over two millennia prior to the birth of Christ can be perused, revealing the remarkable precision and nuance of their findings. They had made significant progress in developing causal ideas and theories that can be applied generally.

One cannot help but wonder why, despite achieving significant advancements, Egyptian medicine did not evolve into a science as we understand it today. Their doctors have extensive knowledge in specialism and relied heavily on empirical observation. However, the solution is straightforward.

The Egyptians lacked the ability to conceptualize nature as a whole entity, unlike the Ionians who were capable of doing so. They demonstrated wisdom and pragmatism by successfully overcoming the influence of magical practices and incantations that were still considered medical treatments in the traditional Greek society of Pindar. However, it was solely Greek medicine that, drawing from its philosophical forebears, has the ability to seek universal rules and construct a theoretical framework that could support a genuine scientific endeavor.

From the time of Solon, we may observe a completely unbiased understanding of the principles that regulate sickness, as well as the inseparable relationship between individual components and the entirety, as well as cause and consequence. Such exceptional clarity and profound insight were only attainable in Ionia during that period. Solon postulates the presence of universal principles and constructs his ‘organic’ theory on this premise, asserting that political crises are disruptions to the well-being of the social organism.

In an alternate poetry, he categorizes the stages of human life into seven-year intervals, which follow each other in a rhythmic manner. Despite being written in the sixth century, this text shares a strong connection with the treatise On hebdomads and other ‘Hippocratic’ works, which were written much later.

These works, including the one in question, all aim to explain the laws that govern phenomena by identifying numerical relationships. This approach was also employed by Anaximander of Miletus, a contemporary of Solon, in his cosmology, and later by Pythagoras and his school in Ionia. \

The concept that each era possesses attributes that are ‘appropriate’ to its capabilities is also present in Solon’s writings, and resurfaces later as the foundation of the dietary principles in medical theory. Another ideology emerged from natural philosophy, asserting that all natural phenomena are a form of reciprocal compensation between entities. This phenomenon is frequently observed in medical writers, who elucidate physiological and pathological occurrences as compensatory or retaliatory responses.

An closely related concept is the notion that the typical, optimal condition of an organism or of nature as a whole is the isomoiria equivalence of its fundamental components. This is evident, for instance, in the book “On airs, waters, and places” authored by a medical professional, as well as in other pertinent situations.

The origin of other basic concepts in Greek medicine, such as the idea of combination, is uncertain. It is unclear if these concepts were originated from natural philosophy or if they were taken by natural philosophy from medical thought.