The Four Humors Essay

This essay has a total of 598 words and 3 pages.

The Four Humors

Medieval doctors had quite an understanding of the human anatomy, considering their lack
of equipment and knowledge. Most doctors in medieval times were philosophers more than
actual medical doctors as most people know them today. Much of the knowledge they did
acquire may have only been speculation, but quite a bit of it was due to concentrated
observation. Many scientists studied wounds and diseases intensely and one scientist in
particular, Empedocles, came to the conclusion that that body consists of four main
fluids, or humors. These humors were yellow bile, black bile, phlegm and blood. If one of
these components was out of proportion in the body, disease occurred. The imbalance was
called isonomia, an idea which was also proposed by the Greek scientist Empedocles.


Empedocles followed the Pythagorean school of natural philosophers rather than the
Hippocratic school as most other physicians in the time did. He felt people must use their
senses, even though they are not thoroughly reliable at all times. The other schools
preferred more mystic ideas as opposed to natural ones. He also hypothesized that all
substances and objects were made up of air, fire, water, and earth in different
proportions. His proposal of the four humors of the body was later accepted by the
Hippocratic school.


Each of Empedocles' four humors was connected to one of the four seasons. Black bile was
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