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'HEAD OR HEART?' REVISITED: PHYSIOLOGY AND POLITICAL THOUGHT IN THE THIRTEENTH AND FOURTEENTH CENTURIES

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Abstract:

Medical metaphors pervade medieval European political writings. No attempt has been made to establish the relationship between bodily imageries of the political community and anatomical and/or physiological knowledge. A survey of bodily metaphors shows that the primacy of the head of the body politic was challenged at the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries by an alternative view: the pre-eminence of the heart. This coincided with the penetration of Aristotelian physiology into scholastic medicine, which triggered debates over the most important member of the body natural: is it the head or the heart? The medical inspiration for the conceptualization of the body politic illustrates the great impact of the 'Aristotelian revolution' in medieval political thought.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of History, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand., Email: Takashi.shogimen@stonebow.otago.ac.nz

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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