Ninth International Summer School on Mind, Brain and Education

2014 July 31 - August 03

Body, Brain and
Personal Identity: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

Directors: Antonio M. Battro, Kurt W. Fischer and Fernando Vidal
Program officer: María Lourdes Majdalani

Abstract: Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim
Department of History, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

Alternative metaphors of body-mind: notes from the Hebrew Book of Asaf and the Tibetan Gyushi
Which part or parts of the body are ‘in charge’? What are the metaphors which are used to describe the different parts of the body? Where in our body are emotions located? How do winds link between body and mind?
This paper will focus on some answers to these questions as they are presented in the Hebrew Book of Asaf, also known as Sefer refu’ot (“Book of Remedies”) and the Tibetan Gyushi (“Four Tantras). Both of these sources are extensive medical compendia, containing a kind of ‘medical history’, sections on anatomy, embryology, sections on diagnosis, seasonal regiment, medical ethics, and discussions of materia medica. The Gyushi dates from the 12th century; Sefer refu’ot was composed sometime before the 11th century. Both are syncretic in nature, based on a variety of medical traditions.
Reflecting on different models of the body- and linked to that: on different ways of acquiring knowledge about the body - can provide inspiration for developing a more multicultural approach to health and illness.