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Wellbeing: A Cultural History of Healthy Living

ISBN: 978-0-7456-2914-8
416 pages
May 2008, Polity
Wellbeing: A Cultural History of Healthy Living (0745629148) cover image
This authoritative new book offers a panoramic overview on health and healthy living from classical Antiquity through to the mid-nineteenth century, when scientific medicine began to gain ascendancy.

Klaus Bergdolt offers the reader a lively and well exemplified account of the numerous historical manifestations of dietetics showing that despite the diversity of notions of healthy and ill', directions on healthy living remain surprisingly constant throughout the centuries.

Notwithstanding his admiration for the achievements of modern medicine, Bergdolt regrets that the simplest dietetic principles such as moderation, as well as the notion of individual responsibility for ones own health, are increasingly neglected, and that the old health precepts are frequently divorced from modern medicine. However, some circumstances, including economic constraints, speak in favour of a better balance between scientific medicine and traditional teachings on healthy living.

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Introduction.

Prologue.

The ancient advanced civilizations - Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia.

Greece.

The ideal of health in Ancient Greece.

The Pre-Socratics.The Hippocratic Corpus.

Diocles of Carystus, a Fourth-Century Health Pedagogue.

‘Knidic’ Dietetics.

Health in Plato and Aristotle.

Dietetics in Alexandria.

Cures and Miracles, Æsculapius and Hygeia.

Public Health Care and Sport.

Early Stoics and Cynics.

Rome.

People and Literati - Dietetics in Ancient Rome.

New Doctors, New Theories.

Sport and Baths.

The Sacred Tales of Publius Aelius Aristides.

The Roman Stoa: Plutarch, Seneca, Marcus Arelius, Epictetus.

Galen.

Jewish and Early Christian Traditions.

Jewish Doctrines of Health.

Christus Medicus.

Early Christian Doctrines of Health.

Medieval Traditions in the East and West.

Healing and Health in Early Monasticism.

The first German pharmacopoeia.

Dietetics in Islam.

Medieval Doctrines of Health in the West.

Asceticism and Mysticism – Feasts and Beauty Care.

Western and Eastern Clerical Scholars: Maimonides, Petrus Hispanus, Roger Bacon.

Hildegard of Bingen.

Saints and Miracle Workers.

The Power of the Stars.

Doctrines of Health in the Renaissance.

Petrarch’s Conception of Health.

Alberti and other Intellectuals around 1500.

House Books and Manuals – Health and Literature.

Further Humanists – Platina, More, Luther.

Philosophy of Health and Prophylaxis in Venice – Mercuriale, Rangone, Cornaro.

Gabriele Zerbi and the Gerontocomia.

Paracelsus’ Teachings on Health.

Herbal Books.

Dietetics in Daily Life.

Dietetics in the 17th Century.

Cartesianism and Conservative Tendencies.

Van Helmont, Sylvius and Other ‘Iatrochemists’.

Doctrines of Health in England - the Dietetics of the State.

Health through Planning - the Utopias.

The Dietetics of the Enlightenment - Philosophers, Pedagogues, Charlatans.

Doctrines of Health in the Eighteenth Century.

Medical Theories of Health.

The French Enlightenment and Rousseau.

Tissot, Triller, Mai: Health Education at Grassroots.

Public Health Care.

Around 1800.

The Notion of ‘Lebenskraft’ (Vital Force) – Hufeland and Kant.

The Recurrent Topic of a Dietetic Regime for Intellectuals.

Alternative Paths to Health.

Goethe.

Romantic Medicine – Schelling, Carus, Novalis.

The Nineteenth Century.

Trends in the Nineteenth Century.

Rudolf Virchow and the Dietetics of Reason.

Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and the Philosophical Critique of Positivism.

The Revolution in Nutrition and Alternative Paths to Health.

Afterword.

Notes.

Bibliography.

Index.

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Klaus Bergdolt is Professor of History and Ethics of Medicine at the University of Cologne.
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  • This authoritative new book offers a panoramic overview on health and healthy living from classical Antiquity through to the mid-nineteenth century.

  • Klaus Bergdolt offers the reader a thoroughly researched and a well exemplified examination of the numerous historical manifestations of 'dietetics'.

  • A fascinating discussion of the theories of health espoused by physicians through history, including how religious, philosophical and social factors produced notions of 'healthy' and 'ill', and directions on healthy living.

  • Will be of interest to general readers and to students and scholars of the history of medicine and health.
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"A fascinating and nearly exhaustive overview of the traditional concepts of hygiene and dietetics from ancient times through to the nineteenth century."
Social History of Medicine

"The thematic and chronological scope of Wellbeing is ambitious; yet it is surprisingly readable, a testament to both its author and translator. The arrangement of chapters, clear index and thoughtful introduction draw in the reader and the comprehensive referencing provides a wealth of additional material without interrupting the flow of the text."
History

"In this scholarly, authoritative, and well-referenced monograph, Bergdolt presents the chronological development of many aspects related to well-being, including diet, cleanliness, exercise/sport, spirituality, and psychology, as well as healing (by useful and dubious means) ... Highly recommended for lower-level undergraduates and above and general readers."
Choice

"Klaus Bergoldt's masterly contribution to the bibliography of health has been a long time coming, but is no less welcome for that ... Bergdolt has achieved a heroic internal synthesis of the health genre."
Medical History

"This book is ... absolutely central to what traditionally constituted the mainstream of medicine, and Bergdolt handles his subject matter with clarity, skill and erudition."
Roy Porter

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