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The body is an unusually complicated thing to know, deductively and inductively. We bring many moral and cultural presuppositions to our understanding of the human body. Much as we want to understand each of its parts, we are most fascinated with the body as a whole. Hippocrates summarized this tendencies well in his Places in Man, when he observed:
"In my view, there is no beginning in the body; but everything is alike beginning and end. For when a circle has been drawn, its beginning is not to be found."
This tour of the pre-modern body, also has no clear beginning or end. You are welcome to look at it in whatever order you find interesting and draw your own conclusions about what the body was to various physicians and philosophers in several different societies clustered primarily around the Mediterranean from antiquity through the Renaissance. The rich interchange of cultures in this part of the world over the centuries played an important role in the longevity of certain ideas; it also had a great deal to do with why these societies contributed so much to the early history of anatomy and physiology.
What, after all, is the body but a repository of all that we think we are, or ought to be?
Andreas Vesalius, On the Fabric of the Human Body (1543)
The female and male reproductive systems
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