Ancient Healthcare and Modern Wellbeing
In this talk, which is based on a public engagement project on this topic at the University of Exeter, I suggest reasons for thinking that ancient (Greek and Roman) healthcare principles could make a positive contribution to modern attempts to promote a more healthy approach to lifestyle management. I focus especially on certain themes in a treatise on 'regimen' by Galen (2nd century AD) on maintaining good health. Key relevant features of his approach are the combination of a number of factors that promote good health (six factors), and not just focusing on diet or exercise, the location of health in the context of the overall life-cycle, and a framework that recognises that health is a person-specific matter, though this does not mean it is just a matter of individual opinion.
If time allows, I will also consider the usefulness in the modern context of the ancient philosophical therapy of the emotions, a topic of widespread interest from the 3rd century BC to the second century AD (from the Stoic Chrysippus to Galen). I ask whether the recent shift to a more cognitive, agent-centred, approach to psychotherapy and counselling renders this genre more relevant for modern concerns than before. In particular I ask whether the more 'values-centred' and moralistic approach of ancient psychotherapy is now acceptable to us or whether this feature still renders the ancient approach of limited use to us. I refer to another Exeter-based public engagement project in which I am involved, 'Stoicism Today'.