(edit: the sequel can be found here)
While I've been collecting the fragments of Athenaeus of Attalia, I've also been tracking down texts about the Pneumatist school of medicine. They are pretty elusive, and this makes me wonder whether it was a medical 'school' in the normal sense (like the 'Rationalists' , Empiricists', or 'Methodists'). I'm also curious about the idea of 'belonging to a school' and how what it meant to doctors changed during the first and second centuries.
Galen's commentary on Epidemics 6 is a good place to go to with these questions. It contains lots of discussions of people Galen disagrees with, and some of them sound pretty close to people he calls "Pneumatikoi" in other places. He never names them in the commentary, which means I need to file them away as possible testimonies. Still, whether or not the "τινές" – the "some people" – Galen talks about here are Pneumatists, this passage is further evidence that Epidemics 6 and its interpretation was an important locus for the revival of Hippocratean medicine, and for bringing medicine, natural philosophy and ethics closer together.
I'll post this comment on Epidemics 6.5.2 in two parts. The first part deals with medical views on the soul and its relation to pneuma (or spirit), as well as Galen's thoughts on the soul's importance for medicine. The second records the views of Platonists, Aristotelians and Stoics on the soul.
Lemma: A person's soul is ever produced until death, but when the soul is inflamed with disease, it consumes the body.
Ἀνθρώπου ψυχὴ αἰεὶ φύεται μέχρι θανάτου· ἢν δὲ ἐκπυρωθῇ ἅμα τῇ νούσῳ καὶ ἡ ψυχὴ, τὸ σῶμα φέρβεται.
'Hippocrates', Epidemics 6.5.2 (V 314,14-15 Littré)
Galen's Commentary: One needs the power of prophecy more than any method, if one is going to figure out what the person who wrote [the word] "produced" intended it to mean. One can take it in the sense of "begotten", like Asclepiades later understood it; or one can take it in the sense of "increased"; or, one can take it, as some people did, in the sense of "preserved", since we engage in nutrition and respiration - for all those who consider the soul to be pneuma say it is preserved by an exhalation of the blood and the air drawn through the rough artery [=trachea] into the body during inspiration. Obviously, it is impossible for us to maintain that any of these claims are true, without first having identified the substance of the soul precisely. If, therefore, as in the case of On Sevens, in which the book's author clearly stated his opinion about the substance of the soul, it was likewise mentioned in some of the other books which are agreed to be the genuine works of Hippocrates, then I would have to say something about the word "produced". Since, however, Hippocrates nowhere in the genuine books states his opinion clearly [...Wenkebach marks a lacuna...] whatever the word "produced" means.
In addition to my ignorance about this, I myself am not convinced that I can know the substance of the soul with any certainty. That the brain controls perception and voluntary movement for all the parts of an animal, I have demonstrated in The Opinions of Hippocrates and Plato. I am convinced, moreover, that the pneuma in the ventricles [of the brain] is a primary kind of psychic instrument, which it would be rather rash for me to claim is the substance of the soul. Whether the whole nature of the brain arose out of the mixture of the four elements to form some specific quality of the substance, because of which it becomes the primary source of perception and voluntary movement in animals (and obviously also of imagination, memory and thought), or whether some further incorporeal capacity is fastened to us at the brain by a craftsman and then separated again from us when we are dying, I have no sound demonstration. But I also think that those who have an opinion about this have a larger share than mine of rashness rather than wisdom.
And in fact, I think it is superfluous for doctors to know the substance of the soul. For those who practice the art of medicine in a rational way, it is enough to know that as long as the natural mixture of the brain itself and the pneuma in its ventricles is preserved, then the animal is able to live. When the pneuma in the ventricles is completely destroyed, or is diverted a good deal from its natural mixture along with the substance in the brain, then either psychic disease or death necessarily follow. When the doctor knows these things, he will provide for their good-mixture and for the subsistence <of the pneuma>, always according to the methods we mentioned in the notes on Matters of Health (De sanitate tuenda) and The Therapeutic Method (Methodus medendi), all of which I showed Hippocrates had discovered first.
For this reason, then, I think the present passage is not genuine, but was written by someone, as it were, not too far removed, perhaps even his son Thessalus. They say he strung together his father's writings, which he found written on papyrus, parchment and writing-tablets, and inserted passages like these ones along with them.
Μαντείας δεῖ μᾶλλον ἤ τινος μεθόδου, καθ' ἣν εὑρήσει τις, ὅ τί ποτε σημαίνειν βουληθεὶς ἔγραψε τὸ «φύεται». δύναται μὲν γὰρ ἀκούεσθαι καὶ <ἀντὶ> τοῦ "γεννᾶται", καθάπερ ὁ Ἀσκληπιάδης ὕστερον ὑπέλαβε, δύναται δὲ καὶ <ἀντὶ> τοῦ "αὐξάνεται", δύναται δ', ὥσπερ τινὲς ἤκουσαν, ἀντὶ τοῦ "διασῴζεται", τροφῇ καὶ ἀναπνοῇ χρωμένων ἡμῶν· ὅσοι γὰρ οἴονται τὴν <ψυχὴν> εἶναι πνεῦμα, διασῴζεσθαι λέγουσιν αὐτὴν ἔκ τε τῆς ἀναθυμιάσεως τοῦ αἵματος καὶ τοῦ κατὰ τὴν εἰσπνοὴν <ἀέρος> ἑλκομένου διὰ τῆς τραχείας ἀρτηρίας εἴσω τοῦ σώματος. οὐκ ἄδηλον δ' ἐστὶ καὶ ὡς οὐδὲν ὧν εἶπον ἀποφήνασθαι δυνατὸν ἡμῖν ἐστι διατεινομένοις, ὡς ἀληθὲς εἴη, μὴ πρότερον οὐσίαν ψυχῆς ἀκριβῶς ἐξευροῦσιν. εἰ μὲν οὖν, ὥσπερ ἐν τῷ Περὶ ἑβδομάδων ὁ γράψας τὸ βιβλίον ἐκεῖνο σαφῶς ἀπεφήνατο περὶ ψυχῆς οὐσίας, οὕτως καὶ κατ' ἄλλο τι τῶν ὁμολογουμένων γνησίων Ἱπποκράτους συγγραμμάτων ἦν εἰρημένον, εἶχον ἄν τι κἀγὼ λέγειν περὶ τοῦ «φύεται» ῥήματος. ἐπεὶ δ' οὐδαμόθι τῶν γνησίων βιβλίων Ἱπποκράτης ἀπεφήνατο σαφῶς ***, ὅ τί ποτε σημαίνει τὸ «φύεται» ῥῆμα.
πρὸς δὲ τῷ τοῦτ' ἀγνοεῖν οὐδ' αὐτὸς ἐμαυτὸν πέπεικα ψυχῆς οὐσίαν ἐπίστασθαι βεβαίως. ὅτι μὲν γὰρ ὁ ἐγκέφαλος αἰσθήσεώς τε καὶ κινήσεως τῆς καθ' ὁρμὴν ἡγεμών ἐστι τοῖς τοῦ ζῴου μορίοις ἅπασιν, ἐν τοῖς Περὶ τῶν Ἱπποκράτους καὶ Πλάτωνος δογμάτων ἀποδέδειγμαι. πέπεισμαι <δὲ> καὶ πρός γε τούτῳ τὸ κατὰ τὰς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ πνεῦμα πρῶτόν τι τῶν ὀργάνων εἶναι τῶν ψυχικῶν, ὅπερ ἦν μοι προπετέστερον ἀποφηναμένῳ ψυχῆς οὐσίαν εἰπεῖν. εἴτε δὲ ἡ ὅλη τοῦ ἐγκεφάλου φύσις ἐκ τῆς τῶν τεττάρων στοιχείων κράσεως εἰς τοιαύτην <τῆς> οὐσίας ἦλθεν [ἢ] ἰδιότητα, καθ' ἣν αἰσθήσεώς τε καὶ κινήσεως τῆς καθ' ὁρμὴν ἀρχηγὸς ἔσται τῷ ζῴῳ καὶ δηλονότι <καὶ φαντασίας> καὶ μνήμης τε καὶ νοήσεως, εἴτε τις ἄλλη δύναμις ἀσώματος ὑπὸ τοῦ δημιουργήσαντος ἡμᾶς ἐνδεῖταί τε τῷ ἐγκεφάλῳ καὶ χωρίζεται πάλιν ἀποθνῃσκόντων, οὐδεμίαν ἔχω ἀπόδειξιν βεβαίαν, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοὺς ἀποφηναμένους περὶ τούτων ἡγοῦμαι πλεονεκτεῖν ἐμοῦ προπετείᾳ μᾶλλον ἢ σοφίᾳ.
καὶ μέντοι καὶ περιττὸν εἶναι νομίζω τοῖς ἰατροῖς ἐπίστασθαι ψυχῆς οὐσίαν. ἀρκεῖ γὰρ γινώσκεσθαι τοῖς τὴν ἰατρικὴν τέχνην λογικῶς μεταχειριζομένοις, ὡς, ἡ κατὰ φύσιν κρᾶσις αὐτοῦ τοῦ ἐγκεφάλου καὶ τοῦ κατὰ τὰς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ πνεύματος ἄχρι περ ἂν διασῴζηται, ζῆν δυνάμενον τὸ ζῷον. ἐὰν δὲ ἤτοι τὸ κατὰ τὰς κοιλίας πνεῦμα διαφθαρῇ παντάπασιν ἢ τῆς κατὰ φύσιν κράσεως ἐπὶ πλεῖστον ἐκτραπῇ, μετὰ τῆς κατὰ τὸν ἐγκέφαλον <οὐσίας ἀναγκαῖον αὐτῇ ἢ ψυχικὴν νόσον ἢ θάνατον> ἀκολουθῆσαι. ταῦτα γὰρ γινώσκων ὁ ἰατρὸς τῆς τ' εὐκρασίας αὐτῶν καὶ τῆς ὑπάρξεως προνοήσεται <τοῦ πνεύματος> ἀεὶ κατὰ τὰς εἰρημένας μεθόδους ὑφ' ἡμῶν ἔν τε τοῖς Ὑγιεινοῖς καὶ τοῖς Θεραπευτικοῖς ὑπομνήμασιν, ἃς ἔδειξα πάσας Ἱπποκράτην πρῶτον εὑρηκότα.
διὰ τοῦτ' οὖν οὐδὲ γνησίαν νομίζω τὴν προκειμένην ῥῆσιν εἶναι, παρεγγεγράφθαι δ' ὑπό τινος ὥσπερ καὶ ἄλλας οὐκ ὀλίγας, ἴσως δὲ καὶ τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ Θεσσαλόν, <ὃν> ἀθροῖσαί φασι τὰς ὑπογραφὰς τοῦ πατρὸς εὑρόντα γεγραμμένας ἐν χάρταις τε καὶ διφθέραις καὶ δέλτοις, καὶ τοιαύτας τινὰς παρεντεθεικέναι ῥήσεις.
Galen, Commentary on Hippocrates' Epidemics 6, 5.5 (270,21-272,9 Wenkebach = XVIIB 246-249 Kühn)