Capital and the Ecology of Disease

Ecology, Threats

Capital and the Ecology of Disease

“The old Greek philosophers,” Frederick Engels wrote in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, “were all born natural dialecticians.”1 Nowhere was this more apparent than in ancient Greek medical thought, which was distinguished by its strong materialist and ecological basis. This dialectical, materialist, and ecological approach to epidemiology (from the ancient Greek epi, meaning on or upon, and demos, the people) was exemplified by the classic Hippocratic text Airs Waters Places (c. 400 BCE), which commenced:

Whoever wishes to investigate medicine properly, should proceed thus: in the first place to consider the seasons of the year, and what effects each of them produces, for they are not all alike, but differ from themselves in regard to their changes.

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