Project (2023-)

Subjectivity and Diagnosis in Greek and Roman Medicine

What role, if any, did empathy play in the epistemology of healing within Greco-Roman rational medicine? This is the ultimate question of my project, which is broadly devoted to understanding how doctors and patients attempted to bridge the unbridgeable gulf between two embodied subjectivities in the face of manifest suffering. Although the techne of healing in antiquity rested on the persuasive authority of a diagnosis presented to the patient as objectively deduced, it is the subjectivity of experience on both sides of the doctor-patient interface that acts as the lodestone of this inquiry. In addition to a general review of the modern historiography on medical models of the body from the fifth century BCE to the third century CE, an examination of the source literature will be conducted that will focus on tracking signs of reflexivity expressed by the healing subject—the account taken by the doctoral persona of their own embodied state, their awareness of the contingency of their own corporeal senses through which they regarded and evaluated the experience of the ailing other.