Series 2 Medical Dialectic

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This paper explores the Philosophy-Medicine analogy and its implications to Philosophy as a study and activity in the context of Filipino experience with the subject.
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  MEDICAL DIALECTIC:Aristotle on Theory and Practice ARCHIMEDES C. ARTICULO, M.Phil. DeanCollege of Arts and SciencesCagayan State  I. This paper deals with Naussbaum’s conception of the value-relative , concerningthe medical characteristics of the Philosophy-Medicine analogy. 1  According Naussbaum, therapeutic philosophical arguments, at some level, tendto respond to the deep wishes or needs of the patient or those who receive the medicalethical education. It means that therapeutic arguments rely heavily on human experience.And Aristotle, Naussbaum claims, has readily agreed on this point. What ethics aims isto describe the good life for a particular species – and in so doing it must consider thatspecies characteristic capabilities and forms of life.The good human life must, according to Aristotle, be such that a human being canlive it: it must be practicable and attainable for the human being. Naussbaum puts thisAristotelian requirement in a much stronger position. She argued that for Aristotle, thegood life must be “common to many”: for it (the good life) is capable of belonging toanyone who is not by nature maimed with respect to arête, through some sort of learningand effort. Along this line Aristotle moves on with providing a clearer picture of the lifewhich will only be accepted as complete by a being who identifies itself as human: a lifein community with others. 2   1 See Naussbaum, Martha. The Therapy of Desires: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics . 1994. NewJersey: Princeton University Press, Chapter 2, which explores how Aristotle perceives the ideal relation of theory and practice, or what Naussbaum calls the Aristotelian “Medical Dialectic” 2 Ibid. pp. 63-64 1  From this it is taken to follow that a true account of good human life must deliver not a life that is self-sufficient for the person all by himself, living a solitary life, but self-sufficient for the person along with parents and children and wife and in general lovedones and fellow citizen.This means, for Naussbaum, Aristotle is seeking for a certain kind of communitywhere one can seek and live a flourishing life with others. 3  This clearly rules out as a false belief, or as ethically false, those views of thehuman good that do away with broad ties of citizenship or with the nuclear family. II. What strikes me as familiar and as the most readily acceptable characteristic of the analogy for the Filipino psyche is the Aristotelian assertion of the importance of the“communal life” or “life with fellow human beings” in defining what constitutes the true belief about the good life. For the Filipinos, life is essentially a “shared” life.Though this is somewhat displayed also by other cultures in the world, it finds avery special expression in Filipino traditional beliefs and practices.For instance, most Filipinos define what is acceptable and not acceptable basedfrom the dichotomy which is set and observed by their family, by their friends, and bytheir community:  from choosing a girlfriend or boyfriend to choosing the best clothes towear, from choosing a career to choosing the best neck tie to buy.  Life’s difficult circumstances also become bearable when one is in the companyof others. In times of great grief, for instance, condolences and personal presence of relatives, friends, and neighbors never ceases, day and night, up to the time of the burial.Most often than not, it extends until the first death anniversary is over. 3 Ibid. p. 64 2  Perhaps the best example demonstrating the value of the Filipino communal lifeis the practice of “bayanihan”. Of course you can no longer see it in urban areas likeManila, but in the provinces where the incursion of Capitalism in people’s way of life isstill minimal. One can witness how the community literally carry or build each other’shouses,  free of charge. The familial, communal or personalistic character of the Filipinos helped evolvethe tacit observance of  “pakikipagkapuwa-tao” or  “pakikisama” – names for two peculiar Filipino practices which have no clear English equivalent. These two conceptsessentially signify that a Filipino is not only to live a life with others – but to live it in aspecial way. He is required to treat “ibang tao” in ways appropriate for a “tao” or ahuman being. It means that he should share in the ends and self-determined projects of his neighbors, sympathizing with them, sharing their grief and celebrating their joys andsuccess.Hence, when Aristotle claimed that the belief  that the good life is a solitary life isa false belief and should be rejected, the Filipinos would be the first ones to agree.The drug offered by Naussbaum’s medical ethical philosophy, how bitter it might be, has a good chance to be considered “acceptable” to the taste of the Filipino psyche.It could be a potent drug to cure the ailing and suffering soul of a people whoalready suffered too much for so long.3
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