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

Project description

Between Medicine, Physics and Psychology: the Concepts of Krasis and Mixis in Galen's thought

This research project aims at analyzing Galen’s theories of mixtures and in particular the concepts of κρᾶσις and μίξις in Galen’s thought. The term κρᾶσις is traditionally set against the terms of the word family of μίξις, since the first would express the meaning of an ordered and harmonic blend, whereas the second would indicate a chaotic, disorderly and confused mix. Also in the Galenic corpus comes out a quite problematic alternation between κρᾶσις and μίξις, although there is not yet a systematic study on this topic.

This research project intends 1) to conduct on Galen's corpus an investigation of the occurrences of terms pertaining to families of κεράννυμι and μείγνυμι; 2) to read and analyze these occurrences in order to find out the relations between Galen and his philosophical background. I refer especially to Aristotle’s remarks on the topic, to the doctrines of the Stoics, who elaborated, especially in the Chrysippean formulation, a quadripartite system of mixtures (παράθεσις, μίξις, κρᾶσις σύγχυσις), and to the reflections of Alexander of Aphrodisias, whose De mixtione seems to be fundamental to understand the debate about this theme in a philosophical context almost contemporaneous with Galen; 3) to recognize the semantic evolutions in Galen's thought of the terms κρᾶσις and μίξις, in comparison with their original meanings of respectively harmonic blend and confused mix.

Therefore, the present project intends giving an organic interpretation of the problem of mixture in Galen's thought, playing on different subjects, such as the ancient philosophical and medical thought, the ancient pharmacology, the ancient physical theories on the matter and on its creation, composition and alteration, and the theories of ancient and modern psychology.