Learning Medieval Medicine: The Boundaries of University Teaching

Learning Medieval Medicine: The Boundaries of University Teaching

By Cornelius O’Boyle

Dynamis : Acta Hispanica ad Medicinae Scientiarumque. Historiam Illustrandam, vol. 20 (2000)

Introduction: What was new about teaching medicine in a university context? What distinguished it from the sort of medical education that went before? In the past, historians have treated these questions either as problems of analyzing the contents of university medicine (its texts and doctrines) or as problems of characterizing its method of procedure (scholasticism). The exemplary scholarship that this approach has produced over the years has certainly been of great value in providing the basic facts of early university medicine. We now know the stages by which Greek and Arabic medical sources were translated into Latin and made the object of commentary by Western scholars. We know how masters in twelfth-century Salerno fashioned out of these sources a curriculum of studies that subsequently became the foundation of medical teaching in the new universities. We know where, when and how this medicine became the subject of teaching in the universities of the thirteenth century. We know which texts were taught, who taught them, and what medical doctrines they derived from them. We already know, then, how medicine came to be taught as a university discipline.

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