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Humoralism or Humorism[edit]

I was exceedingly puzzled by how anyone could think the theory from Hippocrates of the four humours such as bile would have any relationship to funny things like "humor." Making a link between the two would simply demonstrate ignorance of what the four humour theory was.

Jim Summers67.9.170.96 22:09, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

XXXXXXXXXXXXX The correct term for this theory, according to OED, is either Humorism or Humoralism. --BRIAN0918 22:05, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

OED isn't a prescriptive dictionary (i.e., it doesn't claim to say what is correct). I must say that I have never seen either of those terms used currently myself, and when I was first looking for this article "Four humours" was the first possible heading that sprang to my mind. But others may feel differently. Andrew Dalby 16:11, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Well, the difference is that OED quotes sources. The terms humorism and humoralism were used up until the late 19th century, at least by their evidence. --BRIAN0918 20:13, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Fair enough. Are you thinking of combining Four humours with Humorism? Fine, as long as there's a redirect from 'Four humours'. Andrew Dalby 09:14, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
It probably should be merged. I'll throw up the merge tags and think about getting around to doing it :) --BRIAN0918 14:36, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
Just to throw a spanner in the works, I've suggested that Four temperaments be merged to four humors as these are duplicate subjects. I'll try and merge these two next week unless anyone objects, and then we can go from there with the four humors -> humorism merge. Yomangani 23:47, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
Of course it should be merged. It's pointless having two articles on essentially the same subject, especially since this article pretty much explains what the four humours are anyway. Superseve 14:08, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, I just found the "Four humors" article by just assuming there would be an article called "four humors." I certainly would never look for "humorism." But with a redirect page, I supose there should be no problem. --Sean Lotz 03:46, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Merge them! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 14:24, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

I doubt if the merger is a good idea and I'm certain humorism is not an accurately descriptive term. The OED citations show it was used in the sense of the four humours from 1832 to 1887; starting in 1897 all the citations refer to "A humorous saying or remark." Definitely not a good sign.
Humoralism has a similar limited time frame of citations, from 1846 to 1875.
Both of these relate to the period when the humoral theory was still in vogue at the end of the Nineteenth Century. The term that seems to still be in current use accorcing to the OED is Humoral theory (yes, that's how they spell it). However, the meaning has changed to encompass both the historical theory and modern theories in which hormones, as chemical substances, replace the classic four humours.
Whichever way this is edited, any merged article would need to make some careful distinction between the ancient and medieval medical theory, the psychological theories of complexions or temperaments, and perhaps even its recent extension into hormones as humoral agents. Merger sounds like a lot of work for an editor who has some knowledge of the history of medicine. --SteveMcCluskey 21:41, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

I personally would never look under humorism (or humoralism). I teach medieval history at a university and I quickly looked under humors. I will make one comment though. I really don't think the title should include a u -- humours - rather it should be humors. I tried to edit that but I wasn't able to edit the title. Thoughts?

(Different user) Humour is predominantly British / Canadian, Humor is predominantly US English. Not sure how the antipodeans spell it. Given the comment above about the OED citing Humoral theory, I suspect you're right about dropping the U.MarkHarrison 09:21, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

(Different user) If you're going to merge the articles, "Humorism" must go into "Four humours" (which would, of course, have redirects from the titles "Four humors" and "Humorism"), not the other way around. Or actually, so long as we have redirects in place, "Four humours" into "Humorism" makes sense too.-- 20:26, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

I would think that "humorism" and "four humors" should be one article, but that "four temperaments" should have been kept a separate article. The modern temperament theory is no longer based on "humors".Eric B 18:09, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Humorism? No. Link it, for sure, but Humorism is a nineteenth century coinage for an ancient idea. It is a rarely used term, and I feel sure that most users would, as I did, search for 'four humours'. Given that an understanding of humours was a medical theory that was in use before Christopher Columbus was a glint in his father's eye, and that it's use in English was already largely historical by the time The Star Spangled Banner was sung, I feel the argument about the US spelling to be specious.. Hoppers 14:35, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

((Guest)) Hey, all. It seems stupid not to have an image here: i have a home-made one free as half of the devils phone number. That guy —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:48, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

Four temperaments[edit]

Four temperaments has been merged with Four humours. Yomangani 00:03, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

Humorism is an inferior page. Do not merge. RichardRegan 18:07, 13 February 2007 (UTC)


Someone must restore the page as it was before somebody put in michael jackson... —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Lordmick (talkcontribs) 16:27, 1 May 2007 (UTC).

All restored (I hope!) Paxse 19:29, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

The page should be semi-protected. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:50, 22 October 2011 (UTC)

Serious Accuracy Problem[edit]

All the types but Sanguine are wrong, and it is this way all through Wikipedia. Even worse is that some of the entries are correct and some are scramble. I would like to see an expert tag added and perhaps an accuracy tag. Here is what they should be:

NF=Phlegmatic (talk) 09:46, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

Okay, I just fixed the chart here. Now the one in 4 Temperaments will be harder to tackle. -- (talk) 11:09, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

I looked for Wiki info on Temperment Analysis to no avail. It is sort of a cross between Humorism and The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) [a personality questionnaire structured to identify certain psychological differentiations according to the typological theories of Carl Jung based on his preliminary theorem published in his 1921 book Psychological Types (English edition, 1923)]. is anyone aware of any Wiki articles on this paradigm or any other Christian Psychotherapy or Christian Psychology? CWatchman (talk) 01:45, 4 March 2008 (UTC)

In my prescribed book on Psychology (Abnormal Psychology, an Integrative Approach - H Barlow, Mark Durand), it states that "Blood came from the heart, black bile from the spleen, phlegm from the brain, and choler or yellow bile from the liver." This does not correspond with the table on wiki, so I'm not sure who exactly is right here. (talk) 19:04, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Umm, I'm pretty sure that's wrong, and it should be:


Look, for example at the table in Owen Jones (talk) 14:46, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Neopaganism? WTF?[edit]

Why is this part of the Neopaganism project? Shouldn't this be under psychology? What does this have to do with witchcraft? -- (talk) 11:12, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

Blood - which element(s) is present ?[edit]

According to my reference Wittendorff, Alex (1994). Tyge Brahe. ISBN 978-8712022725.  p45 a mixture of all four elements is present in blood. In a later section in the article, only air is present in blood. I cant see the reference though. Can somebody clarify this small discrepancy, I would prefer an authoritative reference. Power.corrupts (talk) 11:22, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles[edit]

representative of the 4 humors? Leonardo, phlegmatic. Donatello, melancholy. Raphael, choleric. Michelangelo, sanguine? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:50, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

How discredited?[edit]

The article says Although modern medical science has thoroughly discredited humorism, this "wrong-headed theory dominated medical thinking... until at least the middle of the 20th century, and in certain ways continues to influence modern-day diagnosis and therapy." But from reading this it is not clear to me what aspects of humorism "modern medical science" has "thoroughly discredited". For instance, has "modern medical science" shown us that happiness and sadness just illusions? That would be new to me, but "thoroughly discredited" suggests that the theory as a whole is wrong, including its classification of happiness and sadness as opposites. Or is only part of humorism wrong, for instance perhaps sanguine and melancholy don't correspond to measurable excesses of blood or black bile? If so, that needs to be clarified, as well as who did the measurements, and when. I also don't understand Ibn al-Nafis (1213-1288) then discredited the theory of four humours after his discovery of the pulmonary circulation and coronary circulation. Is it clear how the existence of circulation makes it impossible to apply factor analysis to the classification of physiological imbalances? Again, the article needs to clarify exactly which aspect of humorism was discredited by Ibn al-Nafis when he discovered circulation. The essence of humorism, which seems to be the fact that people can be too warm or cold, too dry or moist, seems somewhat obvious to me; and so when someone says it isn't true then I am curious to know in which sense they are speaking. A5 (talk) 18:11, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

In answer to some of your concerns: A theory is an attempt to take a group of observed facts and accepted preexisting theories and provide an overarching explanation for them all. In this case, the facts remain facts (happiness and sadness exist, people can be too warm or too cold) and at least some of the preexisting theories remain accepted (happiness and sadness are opposite in some ways), but the overarching explanation doesn't match facts observed later, so the theory is discredited. I'll second your motion that someone with access to better references than I have right now should expand the explanations of how the scientific discoveries mentioned discredit humorism. The explanations are overly abridged and require considerable leaps of thought and more than ordinary knowledge of biology. Also, as long as I'm here, can anyone clarify the nature of the substances the ancients (or medievals) were looking at when they described yellow bile and black bile? The article on bile says that bile is green but usually, when it leaves the body noticeably, it's part of a yellow mixture of bile and stomach contents. Do we have a source to let us state in the article that this is what whoever came up with the name "yellow bile" was thinking of? I don't even have a guess as to what black bile was: bile somehow turned black? some other black fluid mistaken for bile? --Kineticman (talk) 04:59, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

Misleading Quote[edit]

I find the following quote to be misleading: Although modern medical science has thoroughly discredited humorism, this "wrong-headed theory dominated medical thinking... until at least the middle of the 20th century, and in certain ways continues to influence modern-day diagnosis and therapy." Following the citation to a New York Times book review, I found that the two portions of this quote are separated by over two full sentences. The full qoute is "a wrong-headed theory dominated medical thinking for more than 2,000 years, refusing to yield place at the bedside long after it had been proved erroneous by clear-eyed observation and the development of experimental science. One of Arikha’s contributions to the general reader’s knowledge, in fact, is to use the history of the humors — those bodily fluids once thought to hold the key to understanding human health and personality — to demonstrate the difficulty that physicians have always had in giving up outmoded ways of treating actual patients. This has almost invariably been the case, even when not only the theoretical but also the practical basis for a changed approach has already been established, sometimes by the very clinicians who cannot bring themselves to abandon the discredited practices. Arikha is hardly treading new ground here, but she does provide convincing and very specific evidence of a human failing that dogged the profession until at least the middle of the 20th century, and in certain ways continues to influence modern-day diagnosis and therapy." Obviously too long to put into the wiki article, but notice that the "domination" is not necessarily indicated to last up until the middle of the 20th century. I believe that there is a very big difference between domination and dogging. This quote makes it sound like standard medical practice in 1950 was to bleed a patient, which is quite rediculous! I'm not sure what to change this too, though, so hopefully someone else can remedy this misleading quote. Thank you! Kwierschem (talk) 22:10, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Is or was?[edit]

Humourism, or humouralism, was a theory of the makeup and workings of the human body adopted by Greek and Roman physicians and philosophers. Surely it still is a theory, just a discredited one? The fifth humour (talk) 11:51, 31 August 2009 (UTC)


I think the Guardian temperament is regarded as choleric, while the Idealist temperament is regarded as melancholic.

Anonymous Coward —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:45, 2 October 2009 (UTC)


This article links to itself. This serves no purpose and should be fixed —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:40, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

not humorism[edit]

I took this out because its not humorism[[Ibn al-Nafis]] (1213–1288) then discredited the theory of four humors after his discovery of [[pulmonary circulation]]<ref name=Dabbagh>{{cite journal |author=Al-Dabbagh SA |title=Ibn al-Nafis and the pulmonary circulation |journal=Lancet |volume=311 |issue=8074 |pages=1148 |year=1978 |month=May |pmid=77431 |doi=10.1016/S0140-6736(78)90318-5}}</ref> and [[coronary circulation]].<ref>Husain F. Nagamia (2003), "Ibn al-Nafīs: A Biographical Sketch of the Discoverer of Pulmonary and Coronary Circulation", ''Journal of the International Society for the History of Islamic Medicine'' '''1''', p. 22–28.</ref> J8079s (talk) 16:44, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

History section[edit]

I have removed the misleading use of ellipsis in the quote from the NYT review of Bad Medicine in this section. It is the failing of "the difficulty that physicians have always had in giving up outmoded ways of treating actual patients", not the theory of the four humours, that persisted into the 20th century. HairyDan (talk) 21:52, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

Islamic medicine[edit]

The quote from Avicenna's Canon is missing a reference where it is found within the work, should be added. Link to the Canon in Hebrew translation (printed in Naples in 1492): — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:27, 22 September 2011 (UTC)


Is this article eurocentric? Could this article overstate the impact humorism had/has on modern Western society? Could a rewrite help this article to make its impact on modern day thought a little more realistic?

Trying to spark an idea in someones head for a good reason that reflects our policy (which, very, very regrettably, takes the same name as the 5 pillars of Western analytical philosophy...). Charles35 (talk) 07:49, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

Try to avoid sarcasm, because it's very difficult for readers to interpret it, without facial or vocal clues (See WP:SARCASM for an adept demonstration).
The article does specifically mention Islamic medicine, both in the lead paragraph, and the complete section on it further down the page.
If you're looking for a more worldwide overview, see History of medicine. See also History of science, and search for "Hippocrates" - He, and the theories in use at the time, are considered important in an historical sense. They were the academics/scientists of the era - the definition of the term "philosopher" has drastically changed, between then and now - see Natural philosophy for a better understanding. –Quiddity (talk) 03:26, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Quiddity you're watchlist must be very, very long. Trust me, I'm well aware of natural philosophy. I don't think the 4 humors are that important historically. It's just a manifestation of our society's narcissism. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Charles35 (talkcontribs) 16:18, 9 December 2012‎
Hippocrates, as in the hippocratic oath. Important.
Read the introduction to the article on Galen, particularly, "His theories dominated and influenced Western medical science for nearly two millennia."
As in, this was the basis of "scientific" medicine, from 400BC until the early 1800s.
I've never before heard anyone mock the importance of the Greeks to history. It's bizarre and novel. Really bizzare! Read this book review in the NYTimes, review written by the "clinical professor of surgery at Yale".
Yes, this page happens to be on my huge watchlist; you should see my notepad at User:Quiddity/Human archetype systems for more of the same. But I'm also somewhat keeping an eye on a new editor, and trying to help out when I can. (Some editors would have just reply to this rant with a link to WP:FORUM (#1,3,4), but I'm trying to give practical and helpful information.) –Quiddity (talk) 01:32, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Let em link me to WP:FORUM. It's fine, and I knew it would be coming anyway. I appreciate your help but you don't need to do that. I don't think the Hippocratic Oath is that important per se because that sort of rule of medicine could very easily be called "Rule #1" or something else. I mean really, "do no harm" - is it that ingenious or am I missing something? Anyone could have and someone certainly would have thought of it if the Greeks didn't first. I'm not saying Greek things like the 4 humors were completely pointless and uninfluential, I'm just saying that it is waaaayyyyy overstated. The ideas were no better than the ideas of other cultures, including ancient tribes that were lost millenia ago. I think we make their ideas into good ideas when we place emphasis on them. Some Visigoth could have thought of the same thing and we just didn't know. I just don't like how we act like the Greeks are special and better than other types of people. I think people like to think that their ideas were influential because they think it's neat, and overestimate the actual influence that they had. They were the direct predecessors of Western society and we like to think of ourselves as special, which I find annoying. Delete it if you want via WP:FORUM, that's fine. Charles35 (talk) 02:47, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
  • History is based on the information available, to those that are recording it. There may have been earlier originators for every idea/invention/quotation that we have recorded, but only the examples that survived can be known with any degree of surety. See Historical method.
I agree that it isn't mentioned enough, when people discuss history. I was listening to a radio lecture recently, that repeatedly described some cavewall markings as the "earliest writing in the world", which frustrated me as it should really have been described as the "earliest writing that currently survives intact, or has ever been recorded in the world".
It's good to question the past and the status quo, but you need to apply the same level of sceptical questioning to your own conclusions/hypotheses.
Re: "The ideas were no better than the ideas of other cultures, including ancient tribes that were lost millenia ago" - just like science, history can only be based on evidence; if a tribe was "lost" in the sense of "no record remains", then we can only imagine what they may have accomplished.
  • As for 'Why Greece?' - see History of the world#Cradles of civilization. Fertile land, plus calm weather, leads to spare time. The folks in northern europe had much less spare time, as they had tougher land and seasons. Hence most of the early great leaps forward, were in similar latitudes.
  • Previously, you wrote "[...] what are the chances that all of these events in which each person was "influenced" actually fell into place [...]" - I agree this isn't mentioned enough, in history documentaries/lectures/articles, but, history is a summary. Ie. Every notable-individual spent an entire lifetime interacting with uncounted other people, influencing and being influenced. But only the crucial interactions are usually described in historical accounts, because A) that's often all that specific evidence exist for, and B) it would take an entire lifetime to completely describe the events of a lifetime. -- To see a really good example of this, the BBC series Connections has been uploaded (by the host) to youtube (10 episodes, 1hr each).
As always, I hope that helps (stimulates your curiosity :) –Quiddity (talk) 08:49, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
"The ideas were no better than the ideas of other cultures, including ancient tribes that were lost millenia ago" - just like science, history can only be based on evidence; if a tribe was "lost" in the sense of "no record remains", then we can only imagine what they may have accomplished. - By this I don't mean that Greek ideas aren't inherently better than the ideas of other cultures. I think our society tends to presuppose that when we discuss ancient history. The Greeks are assumed to be the gold standard. In reality, their ideas likely were generally more advanced. That's factual, there isn't much you can contest. What I don't like is the way our society talks about the Greeks, not the Greeks themselves. Charles35 (talk) 20:18, 10 December 2012 (UTC)


Greetings! I did the following changes to the article:

Phlegm redirected to Phlegm#Phlegm and humourism
Black bile was redirecting to melancholia. However, melancholia has been described as a mere consequence of excess black bile; the link was not pertaining to "black pile" itself.
Yellow bile was redirecting to bile | The link didn't provide any additional information on "yellow bile" itself.
Blood did not define "Blood (humor)" at all.
Ancient Egypt changed into ancient Egyptian medicine, the link remaining the same.

Here's also a list overlinked words: black bile; yellow bile; phlegm; blood; Greeks; Romans; Muslim; Western European; four elements; season; Greek; juice; flavor; Mesopotamia; foods; life; geographic; occupations; diseases; temperament; health; sanguine; choleric; melancholic; phlegmatic; Unani; drama; cellural pathology Jayaguru-Shishya (talk) 09:46, 8 April 2014 (UTC)