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Alcmaeon of Croton

Alcmaeon of Croton lived in the city of Crotone in Magna Graecia (now southern Italy) around the beginning of the 5th Century BC. He was a philosopher-physician. His works cover topics ranging from the details of the optic nerve to observations regarding the nature of the soul. Although he wrote primarily about medical topics, there is some suggestion that he was a philosopher of science, not a physician. He also practiced astrology and meteorology [1]. Alcmaeon of Croton was the first Greek philosopher to publish a book that established the brain as the “seat of understanding.” Alcmaeon is said to be the first to discover that all sensory organs, such as the eyes, were connected to the brain via channels. He is also attributed with the naming of the four out of five senses. (sight, hearing, taste, and smell) [2]. Alcmaeon wrote several books about medicine and natural sciences. The title of Alcmaeon’s most important book was De Natura or “Natural Philosophy.” De Natura was quoted frequently in ancient times and influenced Hippocrates, Herophilus, Plato, Galen, and others. The book has been lost, and only about five original fragments quoting Alcmaeon verbatim have survived [1].


1              Celesia, G.G.: ‘Alcmaeon of Croton’s observations on health, brain, mind, and soul’, Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, 2012, 21, (4), pp. 409-426

2              Santacroce, L., Charitos, I.A., Topi, S., and Bottalico, L.: ‘The Alcmaeon’s school of croton: Philosophy and science’, Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences, 2019, 7, (3), pp. 500

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