This authoritative new book offers a panoramic overview on health and healthy living from classical Antiquity through to the mid-nineteenth century, when scientific medicine began to gain ascendancy. Klaus Bergdolt offers the reader a lively and well exemplified account of the numerous historical manifestations of dietetics showing that despite the diversity of notions of healthy and ill', directions on healthy living remain surprisingly constant throughout the centuries. Notwithstanding his admiration for the achievements of modern medicine, Bergdolt regrets that the simplest dietetic principles such as moderation, as well as the notion of individual responsibility for ones own health, are increasingly neglected, and that the old health precepts are frequently divorced from modern medicine. However, some circumstances, including economic constraints, speak in favour of a better balance between scientific medicine and traditional teachings on healthy living.
Klaus Bergdolt is Professor of History and Ethics of Medicine at the University of Cologne.