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date: 20 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter sketches the evolution of writing on sex difference in Latin, Arabic, and Hebrew scholarship between the sixth and the late fifteenth centuries, focusing on natural philosophy and, especially, medical theory. It stresses the strong continuities in this textual tradition, which was based on the works of a small group of Greek authorities, of whom the most influential were Aristotle and Galen. At the same time, it describes differences in content and emphasis that resulted from the social orders, institutions, and faiths—Christianity, Islam, and Judaism—that shaped the viewpoints of the authors that contributed to it. The resulting narrative challenges accounts that reduce the variety and complexity of this story by invoking simplistic and misleading doctrines such as the “one-sex” body.

Keywords: medicine, natural philosophy, sex difference, generation, sexuality, contraception, menstruation, Christianity, Judaism, Islam

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