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The ancient origins of teleological concepts are sometimes either conveniently forgotten or given a distorted appearance. On the one hand, ancient teleology has been obscured by the theological cloak of creationism. On the other, Darwinists have sometimes failed to give due consideration to the variety and subtlety of teleology's intellectual antecedents. The purpose of this book is to restore the balance by looking at the manifold ways in which teleology in antiquity was viewed. The volume, consisting of twelve essays by leading authorities in their fields, examines the ways in which teleological arguments were used in antiquity and how these discussions inform and influence current debates on evolution, creationism and intelligent design. As well as examining philosophical contributions to the subject, a specific aim is to examine ancient medical thinking on this topic and its relationship to ancient philosophical ideas.
In seeking the best physician, the prospective patient is advised, according to Galen, first to 'find out how wide his knowledge is and how penetrative is his training in anatomy'. For Galen, anatomy is more than a system of knowledge for its own sake. It is also used to demonstrate that Nature does nothing in vain. Further, it provides information in examining psychic or physical activities and is a precision tool for the operative practitioner. These respective epistemic, teleological, empirical and practical ends underscore the crucial place of anatomy for Galen in his medical and philosophical world. To an appreciable extent, all four cannot be entirely separated. An examination of Galen's employment of anatomy is rewarding not only because it informed his medical practice and defined for him the true worth of a physician, but also because it offers a window into his investigations into the nature of the living organism. This chapter will begin by underscoring Galen's indebtedness to his predecessors and teachers. It will next examine Galen's public anatomical demonstrations and why he felt them to be necessary.