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GENERAL INTRODUCTION

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

Krasis (κρᾶσις: temperament, mixture) and the forms of this, eukrasia (εὐκρασία) and dyskrasia (δυσκρασία),1 are foundational concepts in Galen’s comprehensive system of medicine. Along with the triad of terms, “capacity” (δύναμις), “function” (ἐνέργεια), and “action” (ἔργον), they are the substance of his physiology, which in turn is coupled with his anatomy, both notional and actual, to provide the basis of what he sees as rational medical practice. Bringing together these concepts of structure and function is an apparatus of definitions and a system of causation.

In Galen’s system, krasis is the blending of the four elemental qualities—hot, cold, dry, and wet—which, for him, are the fundamental components of all matter, including the identifiable anatomical structures of the body and mind.2 He allows no mind-body dichotomy, no corporeal/incorporeal division. The range of each of these qualities is infinitely variable, as are their combinations, and

  • 1The issue of the translation of these terms is addressed in section 7 of this General Introduction, on terminology.
  • 2In the first two of the translated treatises, Galen takes these elemental qualities as the foundation of structure. In the third treatise, written some twenty years later, he speaks of a qualityless substance in which these attributes inhere.
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