chapter  6
36 Pages

Theory and Practice

In the university curriculum, medicine was traditionally divided into theorica and practica, and this distinction had generated interminable discussions on the denition and boundaries of the two branches, the core of which was whether medicine was to be numbered among scientiae or artes.1 In the traditional hierarchic vision, theoretical medicine held the higher position, and was seen as a scientia bordering upon natural philosophy; practical medicine, on the other hand, was seen as the part that mingled with ars, even ars mechanica, according to the opinion of some authors. Practical medicine was nevertheless considered fundamental, as the ultimate purpose of medicine, the maintaining or restoring of health, could not be separated from practical intervention.