Avicenna defines medicine as follows: Medicine is the science by which we learn the various states of the human body, when in health and when non in health, whereby health is conserved and whereby it is restored, after being lost. The subject of medic ...
Avicenna defines medicine as follows: Medicine is the science by which we learn the various states of the human body, when in health and when non in health, whereby health is conserved and whereby it is restored, after being lost. The subject of medical science is the human body, insofar as it is subject to health and sickness.
Avicenna insists that the human body cannot be restored to health unless the causes of both health and disease are determined. In categorizing the causes, he states that a complete knowledge may be, and should be obtained of the causes and antecedents of a disease, provided, of course, such causes exist. Sometimes these causes are obvious to the senses but at other times they may defy direct observation. In such circumstances, causes and antecedents have to be carefully inferred from the signs and symptoms of the disease. Hence, a description of the signs and symptoms of disease is also necessary. There are four causes: material, efficient, formal and final.
Avicenna's theory of medicine involves two central concepts of Greco-Arabic medical theory, namely humoral physiology and the idea of temperament. According to humoral physiology, the body was thought to be made up of four humors: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. Temperament arises from the elements and humors and it determines the way in which the individual functions. Each kind of living creature, as well as every organ of the body, has its own temperament which is perfectly suited to its own functional requirement. Some are more hot, others more cold, others more dry and others more moist. The temperament is "equable" (balanced or in eucrasia - Classical Greek) when the contrary qualities are in perfect equilibrium, and out of harmony or "inequable" when the temperament tends toward a particular quality.
The holistic approach in medicine maintains that every disease, organic or mental, is a disease of the whole organism. Therefore organism should be considered as two separate entities, but as one unified, psycho-biological whole. This psycho-somatic viewpoint is to some extent in line with Avicenna's concept of soul-body problem.