Alcmaeon of Croton/Bibliography

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A list of key readings about Alcmaeon of Croton.
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  • Smith, Sir William (editor) (1873) A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. Volume 1, pp 04-105. Entries by William Alexander Greenhill, Benjamin Jowett. London: John Murray.
    • The entry on Alcmaeon (of Croton), pages 104-105, contain numerous references to early writers commenting on the views of Alcmaeon, or disputing the interpretations of other writers.
  • Nutton V. (2004) Ancient Medicine. New York: Routledge
    • Nutton states: Whether he [Alcmaeon] flourished in the late sixth century BC [close to 500 BC] or a generation or so later, in the second quarter of the fifth [475-450 BC], is disputed. Tradition claimed him as a pupil of Pythagoras [c.582–c.507 BC] 'in his old age', but the textual and historical basis for this assertion is far from sound, and Alcmaeon's interests and the sophistication of some of his methods are better suited to the later date.
  • Plinio Prioreschi. (1996) A History of Medicine: Greek medicine, Volume 2. 2nd edition. Horatius Press. ISBN 9781888456028.
    • Reviews the original writings of early commentator of Alcmaeon, including Diogenes Laertius, Aristotle, Chalcidius (4th century AD), Theophrastus, and gives a coherent narrative of Alcmaeon's role in the history of medicine.
  • Longrigg J. (1993) Greek Rational Medicine: Philosophy and Medicine from Alcmaeon to the Alexandrians. New York: Routledge.
    • Longrigg states: ...while a precise dating is impossible upon the available evidence, a period of activity around the second quarter of the fifth century BC would pose no insurmountable chronological problem with regard to the theories and views attributed to Alcmaeon.
    • Longrigg gives a detail examination of the evidence for the dating of Alcmaeon’s life.
  • Huffman, Carl, "Alcmaeon", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Full-Text of Article.
    • An extensive treatment of Almaeon's thinking and relationship to ancient Greek natural philosophy.
  • Alcmaeon. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved November 07, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
    • From the Introduction: Alcmaeon inferred that the brain was the centre of intelligence and that the soul was the source of life. Applying the Pythagorean principle of cosmic harmony between pairs of contraries, he posited that health consists in the isonomy (equilibrium) of the body’s component contraries (e.g., dry-humid, warm-cold, sweet-bitter), thus anticipating Hippocrates’ similar teaching.
  • O'Malley CD. (1964) Andreas Vesalius of Brussels, 1514-1564. Berkeley: University of California Press.
    • Note: Considered the definitive biography. Renown historian of medicine, F. N. L. Poynter, stated of Dr. O'Malley's book: "What strikes me immediately on reading Professor O'Malley's monumental work is the coolness of its judgment, the absence of any kind of special pleading or even of that warmth of expression which comes from the biographer's identification with his subject. This almost Olympian detachment is rare indeed and not to be found in any of the outstanding examples of the biographer's art which readily spring to mind." (See F. N. L. POYNTER. 1964. Andreas Vesalius of Brussels — 1514-1564: A Brief Survey of Recent Work. Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 1964 XIX(4):321-326. PMID 14215447</ref>
  • Wilbur JB, Allen HJ. (1979) The Worlds of the Early Greek Philosophers. Prometheus Books: Buffalo, NY.
    • About this book, from its Preface: The authors of this book have tried to do two things in presenting the written materials ascribed to the early Greek philosophers (c. 585 B.C.-400 B.C.) and the historical context in which those writings occurred. The first was to present a more fully fleshed out picture of the ideas of these men than has been given in the past. Perhaps under the influence of a narrow empiricism there has been a preference for letting the fragments speak for themselves. The trouble with this approach is that, even where there is a goodly number of fragments left, as, for instance, by Heraclitus, an adequate context for interpretation is not always evident from the fragments alone. And in the case of a thinker such as Anaximander, on the other hand, where there is so little firsthand evidence, what does remain is obscure taken solely on its own terms. Opposed to this Scylla of parsimony, there is, of course, the Charybdis of prodigal speculation. But we did not wish to hew a predetermined course equidistant from these two extremes. Rather the goal was to suit our passage to the winds and waters, sometimes nearer one than the other, as seemed best....The second aim, also in the nature of a mean between extremes, was to find a happy balance between overwhelming the reader with all the scholarly paraphernalia of etymology and philology, and presenting a stripped-down version of the ideas that conveys no sense of the condition and source of our knowledge about them. While, for all but the specialist, the former detracts from the ideas presented, the latter fails to give a proper appreciation of the subject. In practice, this means that we<tried to indicate, whenever possible, who attributed an idea to a given philosopher while at the same time providing the student with the relevant passage so he can read for himself what, for instance, Heraclitus said about Pythagoras. For this reason, the fragments themselves as well as essential interpretive passages are included in the text. Testimonials by other thinkers, which are of great importance to our knowledge of the earliest of these Greek philosophers, are either included in the body of the text or referred to at the bottom of the page, depending upon their relevance. A guide to these testimonial sources appears at the end of the book, along with a selected bibliography for the period as well as for the thinkers.
  • Debernardi A, Sala E, D'Aliberti G, Talamonti G, Franchini AF, Collice M. (2010) Alcmaeon of Croton. Neurosurgery. 66(2):247-52. | Free Full-Text.
    • Abstract: IN THE LATTER half of the sixth century BC, Croton was the site of the most famous medical school in Magna Graecia, where diseases of the human body were examined in a scientific and experimental manner instead of by using the contemporary supernatural, nearly magical concepts. Alcmaeon was one of the most active physicians interested in human physiology in the medical tradition of Croton. Although Alcmaeon was devoted to science and was a skillful experimentalist, little is known about his life and his exact birth date. The relative isolation of Alcmaeon from the great philosophical currents of his time probably facilitated his unprejudiced methodology and may have prevented him from disclosing his theories and demonstrating their value. He pioneered the concept of the relationship between the brain and the mind and was the first to identify the brain as the center of understanding and the essential organ for perceptions, sensations, and thoughts. Through systematic observations, Alcmaeon brought many things to light about the characteristics of the eye and the presence of channels connecting head sensory organs to the brain. He stated that the soul was immortal and introduced the tekmairesthai doctrine, through which the ideas of anamnesis and prognosis gave birth. We highlight his contributions to medical thought, and especially to neuroscience, which reveal Alcmaeon to be a thinker of considerable originality and one of the greatest philosophers, naturalists, and neuroscientists of all time.