A Presidential Curiosity
In medieval times the Arab-Islamic world developed a medical tradition that was one of the most advanced of the pre-modern world. Founded on Graeco-Roman medicine it saved many classical texts which might otherwise have been lost through their translations and reintroduction to Europe.
Avicenna, the medieval Latin name for Ibn Sina (c980-1037), was generally regarded as one of the greatest minds since Aristotle and was greatly influenced by his writings. Ibn Sina professes to have been practising medicine from the age of sixteen and his multi-faceted talents are evident in his literary works- over 250 titles. He served as a jurist and held several government positions in Persia but his primary interests were philosophy and medicine.
Ibn Sina’s great medical treatise is his Al-Qanun ti l-tibb also known as the “Canon of Medicine” from its Latin translation. For Ibn Sina medicine fell within the realm of Aristotelian natural sciences. In his Qanun he organised Galen’s medical writings into a system governed by Aristotelian philosophy, most notable being the fusion of Galen's humoral system with Aristotle’s doctrine of three life sources. The Qanun was so well received by physicians that Ibn Sina and others were honoured in their time with the title Jalnus al- Islam or ‘Galen of Islam’.