Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Language, Literature and Humanities - Alexander von Humboldt Professorship

Medicine of the Mind

Medicine of the Mind, Philosophy of the Body.
Discourses of Health and Well-Being in the Ancient World


This research programme is concerned with concepts of mental and physical health as developed in the Graeco-Roman world. The programme is sub-divided into four strands:

The first strand of the programme is devoted to intellectual encounters between medicine, philosophy and science in antiquity, especially concerning the nature of human beings, the relationship between mind and body, the nature of medical and biological knowledge and the constitution of medical expertise.

The second strand studies the ways in which ideas about health were expressed in technical vocabulary and communicated in rhetorically crafted textual forms.

A third strand is concerned with the social and cultural embedding of ideas and practices of health, especially the impact of religion and morality.

Finally, a fourth strand examines ways in which classical ideas about health and disease were received and transformed in later times, both in the East (e.g. in Islamic medicine) and in the Western medical tradition.

The programme unites approaches to medical history, history of science, ancient philosophy, discourse analysis, classical philology, cultural history, reception studies, and the comparative study of knowledge systems.

The research programme was funded from 2010 to 2015 by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation as part of its Alexander von Humboldt Professorship programme. It is now being continued with support from the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. In addition, a number of activities of the research group are supported through other funding streams.