Hidden in plain sight: The moral imperatives of Hippocrates’ first aphorism

Patrick James Fiddes, Paul A. Komesaroff

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This historiographic survey of extant English translations and interpretations of the renowned Hippocratic first aphorism has demonstrated a concerning acceptance and application of ancient deontological principles that have been used to justify a practice of medicine that has been both paternalistic and heteronomous. Such principles reflect an enduring Hippocratism that has perpetuated an insufficient appreciation of the moral nature of the aphorism’s second sentence in the practice of the art of medicine. That oversight has been constrained by a philological discourse that has centred on the meanings of the aphorism’s first sentence, while little consideration has been given to the more important ethical consideration within the second sentence’s imperatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-220
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Bioethical Inquiry
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Aphorism
  • Deontology
  • Ethics
  • Hippocrates
  • Hippocratism
  • Paternalism

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