Jump to content


Photo

Medical Knowledge


  • Please log in to reply
13 replies to this topic

#1 Snag

Snag

    הבל יפצה פי

  • Banned
  • 11,108 posts

Posted 16 June 2011 - 12:37 PM

a challenge has been issued more than once on hashkafa.com to present instances where chazal correctly disagreed with the prevailing scientific opinions of their day. since i happen to be learning eilu treifos and came across a couple, here they are. i just want to note, first, that i don't intend this as 'proof' that chazal's medical knowledge was complete and Divinely inspired, or that all of their advice is correct (which i happen to believe, but i realize cannot be proven simply by presenting a couple of examples, when there is a wealth of evidence suggesting the opposite, and when these can be two cases where they just happened to be correct in their own observations), just as a response to that challenge:

1)chullin 47a "there are five [cranial] lobes to the lung; three on the right, and two on the left". the medical experts of the day believed that the lungs of ruminant animals were symmetrical - hippocrates said there were three lobes on each side, and galen said there were two - until vesalius said, in 1543, the same as the gemara. (the difficulty stemmed from the fact that it is difficult to discern visually the lobes of the lungs, and the case could be made for either three or two per side, with the assumption of symmetry ruling, until they removed the lung tissue and examined the bronchial configuration.)

2)chullin 42a and on indicates that an animal can survive even if most of its liver is damaged or missing, and only a small amount (kezayis) remains. this is at odds with what was believed by aristotle and galen, that the liver was a delicate organ, and even a small trauma to it was a death blow. moreover, the tosefta of chullin (3:1) explains the reason for the remaining amount as "kedey shetaaleh arucha", literally "in order that it raise a healing", but usually indicating a return to its prior state (kedey sheyisrapei would indicate a simple healing). the regenerative power of the liver was not established by the scientific community until 1894.

eta: i forgot to mention: both of these points are made by dr. j.l. katznelson in hatalmud vechochmas harefuah (berlin 1928). i am, quite obviously, neither a medical nor a talmudic scholar of sufficient standing to substantiate these points independently.
"Spiritual wants and instincts are as various in the human family as are physical appetites, complexions, and features, and a man is only at his best, morally, when he is equipped with the religious garment whose color and shape and size most nicely accommodate themselves to the spiritual complexion, angularities, and stature of the individual who wears it."

"The despotism of heaven is the one absolutely perfect government. An earthly despotism would be the absolutely perfect earthly government, if the conditions were the same; namely, the despot the perfectest individual of the human race, and his lease of life perpetual. But as a perishable perfect man must die, and leave his despotism in the hands of an imperfect successor, an earthly despotism is not merely a bad form of government, it is the worst form that is possible."

-Mark Twain

#2 politico

politico

    ...

  • Banned
  • 11,413 posts

Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:14 PM

2)chullin 42a and on indicates that an animal can survive even if most of its liver is damaged or missing, and only a small amount (kezayis) remains. this is at odds with what was believed by aristotle and galen, that the liver was a delicate organ, and even a small trauma to it was a death blow. moreover, the tosefta of chullin (3:1) explains the reason for the remaining amount as "kedey shetaaleh arucha", literally "in order that it raise a healing", but usually indicating a return to its prior state (kedey sheyisrapei would indicate a simple healing). the regenerative power of the liver was not established by the scientific community until 1894.

:nea:
zinh.

#3 Snag

Snag

    הבל יפצה פי

  • Banned
  • 11,108 posts

Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:16 PM

:nea:

would you care to explain?
"Spiritual wants and instincts are as various in the human family as are physical appetites, complexions, and features, and a man is only at his best, morally, when he is equipped with the religious garment whose color and shape and size most nicely accommodate themselves to the spiritual complexion, angularities, and stature of the individual who wears it."

"The despotism of heaven is the one absolutely perfect government. An earthly despotism would be the absolutely perfect earthly government, if the conditions were the same; namely, the despot the perfectest individual of the human race, and his lease of life perpetual. But as a perishable perfect man must die, and leave his despotism in the hands of an imperfect successor, an earthly despotism is not merely a bad form of government, it is the worst form that is possible."

-Mark Twain

#4 Snag

Snag

    הבל יפצה פי

  • Banned
  • 11,108 posts

Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:23 PM

if, perchance, you refer to the greek myth of prometheus' liver being eaten each day by an eagle and regenerating (with a parallel to the mesopotamian myth of enki), some scientists have said that these myths are by no means indications that the greeks knew of the regenerative powers of the liver - see "Whither Prometheus' Liver" by Powers and Rasko in Annals of Internal Medicine 2008, 149:421-426, and "Tityus, a forgotten myth of liver regeneration" by Tiniakos Kandilis and Geller in Journal of Hepatology 2010, 53:2, pp 357-361
"Spiritual wants and instincts are as various in the human family as are physical appetites, complexions, and features, and a man is only at his best, morally, when he is equipped with the religious garment whose color and shape and size most nicely accommodate themselves to the spiritual complexion, angularities, and stature of the individual who wears it."

"The despotism of heaven is the one absolutely perfect government. An earthly despotism would be the absolutely perfect earthly government, if the conditions were the same; namely, the despot the perfectest individual of the human race, and his lease of life perpetual. But as a perishable perfect man must die, and leave his despotism in the hands of an imperfect successor, an earthly despotism is not merely a bad form of government, it is the worst form that is possible."

-Mark Twain

#5 politico

politico

    ...

  • Banned
  • 11,413 posts

Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:28 PM

if, perchance, you refer to the greek myth of prometheus' liver being eaten each day by an eagle and regenerating (with a parallel to the mesopotamian myth of enki), some scientists have said that these myths are by no means indications that the greeks knew of the regenerative powers of the liver - see "Whither Prometheus' Liver" by Powers and Rasko in Annals of Internal Medicine 2008, 149:421-426, and "Tityus, a forgotten myth of liver regeneration" by Tiniakos Kandilis and Geller in Journal of Hepatology 2010, 53:2, pp 357-361

i've seen them, and others. at best the jury's out. and there are modern medical sources on liver regeneration that predate von meister 1894. von meister 1891, for example, but even that wasn't the first, which katznelson certainly should have known. and which you'd also know if you had read the articles you just cited.
zinh.

#6 politico

politico

    ...

  • Banned
  • 11,413 posts

Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:39 PM

1)chullin 47a "there are five [cranial] lobes to the lung; three on the right, and two on the left". the medical experts of the day believed that the lungs of ruminant animals were symmetrical - hippocrates said there were three lobes on each side, and galen said there were two - until vesalius said, in 1543, the same as the gemara. (the difficulty stemmed from the fact that it is difficult to discern visually the lobes of the lungs, and the case could be made for either three or two per side, with the assumption of symmetry ruling, until they removed the lung tissue and examined the bronchial configuration.)

i'm told in chat that this also gets a :nea:
zinh.

#7 Snag

Snag

    הבל יפצה פי

  • Banned
  • 11,108 posts

Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:44 PM

i've seen them, and others. at best the jury's out. and there are modern medical sources on liver regeneration that predate von meister 1894. von meister 1891, for example, but even that wasn't the first, which katznelson certainly should have known.

ok. but do they predate them to talmudic times? and is he wrong about the opinions of aristotle and galen?

i'm told in chat that this also gets a :nea:

care to share? as i noted in my caveat, my medical knowledge is virtually nil, and my talmudic knowledge only marginally better, so i'm just parroting katznelson. if there's a problem with his point, i'd like to hear it.
"Spiritual wants and instincts are as various in the human family as are physical appetites, complexions, and features, and a man is only at his best, morally, when he is equipped with the religious garment whose color and shape and size most nicely accommodate themselves to the spiritual complexion, angularities, and stature of the individual who wears it."

"The despotism of heaven is the one absolutely perfect government. An earthly despotism would be the absolutely perfect earthly government, if the conditions were the same; namely, the despot the perfectest individual of the human race, and his lease of life perpetual. But as a perishable perfect man must die, and leave his despotism in the hands of an imperfect successor, an earthly despotism is not merely a bad form of government, it is the worst form that is possible."

-Mark Twain

#8 politico

politico

    ...

  • Banned
  • 11,413 posts

Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:49 PM

ok. but do they predate them to talmudic times? and is he wrong about the opinions of aristotle and galen?

if he didn't even bother to review his contemporary literature properly, i wouldn't put too much weight into anything he wrote.
zinh.

#9 Snag

Snag

    הבל יפצה פי

  • Banned
  • 11,108 posts

Posted 17 June 2011 - 08:47 AM

if he didn't even bother to review his contemporary literature properly, i wouldn't put too much weight into anything he wrote.

with respect, politico, i had thought apologetics like that were the exclusive province of the Torah-true. hence, without putting too much weight into the persona of katznelson, if we can accept that liver regeneration was unknown in talmudic times (and if we accept greek mythology as evidence of advanced science, should we not then accept talmudic aggada as the same?), and, indeed, prevailing medical opinion was then that minor trauma to the liver was fatal, and we can see, objectively, that the tannaim were correct in their differing evaluation of the liver, is that not an instance of chazal being correct in a matter of the natural sciences where their secular contemporaries were wrong?

i want to stress, again, that even if we accept this premise, i understand that it is not proof of any of the other stuff i mentioned in my op. i am just asking whether or not this is, indeed, a satisfying instance of the type that the challenger sought.
"Spiritual wants and instincts are as various in the human family as are physical appetites, complexions, and features, and a man is only at his best, morally, when he is equipped with the religious garment whose color and shape and size most nicely accommodate themselves to the spiritual complexion, angularities, and stature of the individual who wears it."

"The despotism of heaven is the one absolutely perfect government. An earthly despotism would be the absolutely perfect earthly government, if the conditions were the same; namely, the despot the perfectest individual of the human race, and his lease of life perpetual. But as a perishable perfect man must die, and leave his despotism in the hands of an imperfect successor, an earthly despotism is not merely a bad form of government, it is the worst form that is possible."

-Mark Twain

#10 politico

politico

    ...

  • Banned
  • 11,413 posts

Posted 17 June 2011 - 09:45 AM

with respect, politico, i had thought apologetics like that were the exclusive province of the Torah-true.

insisting on due diligence in researching and evaluating one's sources before taking them as authoritative is hardly apologetics.

hence, without putting too much weight into the persona of katznelson,

this is about his research, not his persona.

if we can accept that liver regeneration was unknown in talmudic times

we can't.

i am just asking whether or not this is, indeed, a satisfying instance of the type that the challenger sought.

you'll have to ask the challenger that.
zinh.

#11 politico

politico

    ...

  • Banned
  • 11,413 posts

Posted 17 June 2011 - 09:52 AM

i'm just parroting katznelson

that's probably not a good approach to satisfying the challenger.
zinh.

#12 Snag

Snag

    הבל יפצה פי

  • Banned
  • 11,108 posts

Posted 17 June 2011 - 09:55 AM

insisting on due diligence in researching and evaluating one's sources before taking them as authoritative is hardly apologetics.


no, but dismissing an assertion because of a single factual error which does not affect the conclusion is.

we can't.

okay, in your superior capacity to find and assess medical scientific facts, do you have any evidence that liver regeneration - or, indeed, a position opposing that alleged to be of aristotle and galen - was extant among secular authorities in talmudic times?

you'll have to ask the challenger that.

i have.

that's probably not a good approach to satisfying the challenger.

touche :)

however, i do not think the challenger expected a fully independently-researched thesis, certainly not from me.
"Spiritual wants and instincts are as various in the human family as are physical appetites, complexions, and features, and a man is only at his best, morally, when he is equipped with the religious garment whose color and shape and size most nicely accommodate themselves to the spiritual complexion, angularities, and stature of the individual who wears it."

"The despotism of heaven is the one absolutely perfect government. An earthly despotism would be the absolutely perfect earthly government, if the conditions were the same; namely, the despot the perfectest individual of the human race, and his lease of life perpetual. But as a perishable perfect man must die, and leave his despotism in the hands of an imperfect successor, an earthly despotism is not merely a bad form of government, it is the worst form that is possible."

-Mark Twain

#13 Snag

Snag

    הבל יפצה פי

  • Banned
  • 11,108 posts

Posted 17 June 2011 - 10:32 AM

i have been informed that katnelson's representation of the hippocratic position was mistaken, and that the liver issue is also not so simple (although i await confirmation on that score), so the quest remains open. however, i would like to enter a continuing line of objection to administrative actions which persist in directly causing discussions such as these to be stilted by the lack of contribution from certain members who were effectively, if not actually, banned from positng, and the attendant shift from these pages to other sites.
"Spiritual wants and instincts are as various in the human family as are physical appetites, complexions, and features, and a man is only at his best, morally, when he is equipped with the religious garment whose color and shape and size most nicely accommodate themselves to the spiritual complexion, angularities, and stature of the individual who wears it."

"The despotism of heaven is the one absolutely perfect government. An earthly despotism would be the absolutely perfect earthly government, if the conditions were the same; namely, the despot the perfectest individual of the human race, and his lease of life perpetual. But as a perishable perfect man must die, and leave his despotism in the hands of an imperfect successor, an earthly despotism is not merely a bad form of government, it is the worst form that is possible."

-Mark Twain

#14 politico

politico

    ...

  • Banned
  • 11,413 posts

Posted 17 June 2011 - 11:29 AM

no, but dismissing an assertion because of a single factual error which does not affect the conclusion is.

failure to review contemporary literature properly isn't a single factual error.

okay, in your superior capacity to find and assess medical scientific facts, do you have any evidence that liver regeneration - or, indeed, a position opposing that alleged to be of aristotle and galen - was extant among secular authorities in talmudic times?

the relevant experts themselves aren't sure, which is enough to make your example unconvincing. considering your other example (based on the same source) has also been shown to be unconvincing, i'm not going to waste time doing your wild goose chase research for you.

touche :)

however, i do not think the challenger expected a fully independently-researched thesis, certainly not from me.

uncritically parroting katznelson doesn't even reach the level of minimally convincing. i could parrot lots of ca. 1928 tomes that posit jews' inferiority as a race, but i suspect that wouldn't be taken as well as you expect the challenger to take your recitation of these two snippets from hatalmud vechochmat harefuah.
zinh.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users