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Do we overemphasize health?

Lasagna
Posts: 2,440
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8/28/2011 9:26:04 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
An excerpt from Plato's Republic:

"When a carpenter is ill he asks the physician for a rough and ready cure; an emetic or a purge or a cautery or the knife, --these are his remedies. And if some one prescribes for him a course of dietetics, and tells him that he must swathe and swaddle his head, and all that sort of thing, he replies at once that he has no time to be ill, and that he sees no good in a life which is spent in nursing his disease to the neglect of his customary employment; and therefore bidding good-bye to this sort of physician, he resumes his ordinary habits, and either gets well and lives and does his business, or, if his constitution falls, he dies and has no more trouble."

In Book III Plato discusses the illogic of excessive preoccupation with one's health. Now keep in mind that in Plato's time, there was little in the way of unhealthy food and lethargy like we have now. People weren't plagued with obesity from sitting in front of the TV and eating junkfood. Plato gives an example of a man who quits his job (he was rich) and spends the rest of his years constantly nursing a condition of his.

In today's world, this type of reasoning is alien. We will keep any and all humans alive for the absolute maximum amount of time possible, even if it is expensive and the person doesn't get much more out of life. We also defend the lives of microscopic embryos as if we have some duty to the potentiality of human life.

Do you defend extending your life in the face of diminishing quality of life?
Rob
VainApocalypse
Posts: 74
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8/28/2011 10:24:40 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 8/28/2011 9:26:04 PM, Lasagna wrote:
An excerpt from Plato's Republic:

"When a carpenter is ill he asks the physician for a rough and ready cure; an emetic or a purge or a cautery or the knife, --these are his remedies. And if some one prescribes for him a course of dietetics, and tells him that he must swathe and swaddle his head, and all that sort of thing, he replies at once that he has no time to be ill, and that he sees no good in a life which is spent in nursing his disease to the neglect of his customary employment; and therefore bidding good-bye to this sort of physician, he resumes his ordinary habits, and either gets well and lives and does his business, or, if his constitution falls, he dies and has no more trouble."

In Book III Plato discusses the illogic of excessive preoccupation with one's health. Now keep in mind that in Plato's time, there was little in the way of unhealthy food and lethargy like we have now. People weren't plagued with obesity from sitting in front of the TV and eating junkfood. Plato gives an example of a man who quits his job (he was rich) and spends the rest of his years constantly nursing a condition of his.

In today's world, this type of reasoning is alien. We will keep any and all humans alive for the absolute maximum amount of time possible, even if it is expensive and the person doesn't get much more out of life. We also defend the lives of microscopic embryos as if we have some duty to the potentiality of human life.

Do you defend extending your life in the face of diminishing quality of life?

This is a false dichotomy. The quality of life is actually bolstered by the extension of life because the very same things that hamper longevity are the things that diminish the quality of life -- diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, diminishing bone and muscle density, waning immune system, glycated proteins throughout the body. Addressing these increases quality and longevity.
Lasagna
Posts: 2,440
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8/29/2011 9:09:35 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Yes that is a false dichotomy, but it is one I did not intend to make. I'm not saying that taking care of your body comes at the expense of quality; dental care, hygiene, antibiotics, etc. are all absolutely desirable with no argument from me. I am more concerned about those situations where our upkeep becomes central to our existence; where we seem to be 'going against the grain' if you will.

Plato uses the example of the rich man who spends all his time nursing his condition and is unable to function in society because of it (he is no longer useful). My grandmother is about 100 years old and is losing her sanity. I get the impression from my relatives that she no longer wants to live. Our customs prevent her from even considering letting herself go, no matter what the cost. This is the type of example I am getting at.

Also, what of all these new diseases and remedies we are developing? I was shocked; absolutely floored to see Plato, 2500 years ago, write: "Well, I said, and to require the help of medicine, not when a wound has to be cured, or on occasion of an epidemic, but just because, by indolence and a habit of life such as we have been describing, men fill themselves with waters and winds, as if their bodies were a marsh, compelling the ingenious sons of Asclepius to find more names for diseases, such as flatulence and catarrh; is not this, too, a disgrace?"

I had always thought this was a phenomenon of modern medicine. ADHD, for example, seems to cross the line of medical legitimacy for me. My friend has a boy who is hyper-active, and the teachers all came to his house and basically gave him an ultimatum: put your kid on meds or we won't take him anymore. My friend is normally someone of my general beliefs and wouldn't have considered it, but was overwhelmed at the prospect of his child being kicked out of school. I don't blame him for acquiescing, but I have to think that there could have been a better way to address this problem. Either a different venue for his education or a different remedy for his hyper-activity, based on sports or something to tire him out.

Anyway, when I saw that Plato was grappling with this sort of thing 2500 years ago, before we had much of any technology to speak of, I realized that there must be a lot more truth to this than I previously considered. I mean, it would seem that some of our conditions are not problems of human biology, but of human culture. How many people "struggled" with bulimia, ADD, obesity, or verminophobia (fear of germs) before there was a cultural or technological reason to do so? Could you imagine what Plato would say if we could go back 2500 years and inform him of the "progress" we've made in the medical field?

People certainly do struggle with these diseases nowadays, however, so I don't want to come off like they are all just faking it or something. I had an ex who was anorexic/bulimic and I didn't take that condition seriously until I saw how screwed up in the head she was. She would just stand in front of the mirror looking at herself, and I would continuously hear her sigh heavily, as if she was completely disappointed with how fat she was - even though she was sickly thin and was nothing but bone and skin. I guess my argument here is not that these conditions are mirages, but that we are creating them unnecessarily through our own actions. Our treatments for them are medical-based, yet the conditions are not a result of medical problems - otherwise they would have been plaguing us throughout history.

I think our culture is screwed up. We are creating problems as we go and not noticing it (we think we are simply being more thorough in identifying them). We prolong life as a principle, instead of letting things be, because we are scared and ashamed of death. Now half of our country is obsessed so much with this that they are determined to "save" potential people who haven't even been born yet.

In the 80s it was in-style for people to have a therapist. For a while we actually worshipped our mental conditions... it's no wonder we are starting to invent them at a faster rate. I fear that soon it will become abnormal to not have an official diagnosis of some sort of disorder.
Rob
VainApocalypse
Posts: 74
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8/29/2011 11:33:44 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 8/29/2011 9:09:35 AM, Lasagna wrote:
Yes that is a false dichotomy, but it is one I did not intend to make. I'm not saying that taking care of your body comes at the expense of quality; dental care, hygiene, antibiotics, etc. are all absolutely desirable with no argument from me. I am more concerned about those situations where our upkeep becomes central to our existence; where we seem to be 'going against the grain' if you will.

Plato uses the example of the rich man who spends all his time nursing his condition and is unable to function in society because of it (he is no longer useful). My grandmother is about 100 years old and is losing her sanity. I get the impression from my relatives that she no longer wants to live. Our customs prevent her from even considering letting herself go, no matter what the cost. This is the type of example I am getting at.

Also, what of all these new diseases and remedies we are developing? I was shocked; absolutely floored to see Plato, 2500 years ago, write: "Well, I said, and to require the help of medicine, not when a wound has to be cured, or on occasion of an epidemic, but just because, by indolence and a habit of life such as we have been describing, men fill themselves with waters and winds, as if their bodies were a marsh, compelling the ingenious sons of Asclepius to find more names for diseases, such as flatulence and catarrh; is not this, too, a disgrace?"

I had always thought this was a phenomenon of modern medicine. ADHD, for example, seems to cross the line of medical legitimacy for me. My friend has a boy who is hyper-active, and the teachers all came to his house and basically gave him an ultimatum: put your kid on meds or we won't take him anymore. My friend is normally someone of my general beliefs and wouldn't have considered it, but was overwhelmed at the prospect of his child being kicked out of school. I don't blame him for acquiescing, but I have to think that there could have been a better way to address this problem. Either a different venue for his education or a different remedy for his hyper-activity, based on sports or something to tire him out.

Anyway, when I saw that Plato was grappling with this sort of thing 2500 years ago, before we had much of any technology to speak of, I realized that there must be a lot more truth to this than I previously considered. I mean, it would seem that some of our conditions are not problems of human biology, but of human culture. How many people "struggled" with bulimia, ADD, obesity, or verminophobia (fear of germs) before there was a cultural or technological reason to do so? Could you imagine what Plato would say if we could go back 2500 years and inform him of the "progress" we've made in the medical field?

People certainly do struggle with these diseases nowadays, however, so I don't want to come off like they are all just faking it or something. I had an ex who was anorexic/bulimic and I didn't take that condition seriously until I saw how screwed up in the head she was. She would just stand in front of the mirror looking at herself, and I would continuously hear her sigh heavily, as if she was completely disappointed with how fat she was - even though she was sickly thin and was nothing but bone and skin. I guess my argument here is not that these conditions are mirages, but that we are creating them unnecessarily through our own actions. Our treatments for them are medical-based, yet the conditions are not a result of medical problems - otherwise they would have been plaguing us throughout history.

I think our culture is screwed up. We are creating problems as we go and not noticing it (we think we are simply being more thorough in identifying them). We prolong life as a principle, instead of letting things be, because we are scared and ashamed of death. Now half of our country is obsessed so much with this that they are determined to "save" potential people who haven't even been born yet.

In the 80s it was in-style for people to have a therapist. For a while we actually worshipped our mental conditions... it's no wonder we are starting to invent them at a faster rate. I fear that soon it will become abnormal to not have an official diagnosis of some sort of disorder.

I agree fully that the examples you provided have little to do with health and more to do with culture. We absolutely should prolong life as a principle, but when an ailing grandmother has her desires to expire disregarded, an equally important principle is being violated -- someone's right to property, self ownership, autonomy. We absolutely should be ashamed of death, but when doctors and psychologists lose credibility for suggesting that ADHD is not a disorder, we know that it is not health that is at jeopardy, but the profits of pharmaceuticals and the reluctance of states and school districts to reconfigure their educational goals and strategies.

That is what misled me about your message, the mention of health. The anorexic and bulimic are not overemphasizing bodily health. They're preoccupied with image and culture or a model of health that is inaccurate. I have no doubt that that is a problem in every sector of our society. It's important, however, to distinguish between those people and those of us who are emphatic about maintaining our actual health.
Lasagna
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8/30/2011 10:17:45 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
There's a much more insidious force at play with ADHD than just pharmaceutical companies... Society uses this condition in many ways. I've seen parents express pride in their abilities to cope with their ADHD children. I've seen parents use ADHD as an excuse to their bad parenting problems. I've seen teachers use ADHD to justify sedating their students. I've seen people use ADHD as an excuse to collect unemployment because they cannot function at a job. I've seen people use ADHD as an outlet to get drugs for recreation and even sale. I've seen people psychologically manipulated by the medical profession and told they are not normal through ADHD diagnosis.

Being able to diagnose ADHD is seen as a matter of exactitude; our psychological and pharmaceutical skills are sharpening and we are able to detect ever so subtle deviations in human personality. This is a slippery slope...
Rob
Ore_Ele
Posts: 25,980
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8/30/2011 10:20:16 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 8/28/2011 9:26:04 PM, Lasagna wrote:
An excerpt from Plato's Republic:

"When a carpenter is ill he asks the physician for a rough and ready cure; an emetic or a purge or a cautery or the knife, --these are his remedies. And if some one prescribes for him a course of dietetics, and tells him that he must swathe and swaddle his head, and all that sort of thing, he replies at once that he has no time to be ill, and that he sees no good in a life which is spent in nursing his disease to the neglect of his customary employment; and therefore bidding good-bye to this sort of physician, he resumes his ordinary habits, and either gets well and lives and does his business, or, if his constitution falls, he dies and has no more trouble."

In Book III Plato discusses the illogic of excessive preoccupation with one's health. Now keep in mind that in Plato's time, there was little in the way of unhealthy food and lethargy like we have now. People weren't plagued with obesity from sitting in front of the TV and eating junkfood. Plato gives an example of a man who quits his job (he was rich) and spends the rest of his years constantly nursing a condition of his.

In today's world, this type of reasoning is alien. We will keep any and all humans alive for the absolute maximum amount of time possible, even if it is expensive and the person doesn't get much more out of life. We also defend the lives of microscopic embryos as if we have some duty to the potentiality of human life.

Do you defend extending your life in the face of diminishing quality of life?

Death has a life quality of 0, so even if my quality of life decreases, if it is still better than 0, than it is still better than death.
"Wanting Red Rhino Pill to have gender"
CosmicAlfonzo
Posts: 5,955
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8/30/2011 10:26:40 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Live fat, die young I say.
Official "High Priest of Secular Affairs and Transient Distributor of Sonic Apple Seeds relating to the Reptilian Division of Paperwork Immoliation" of The FREEDO Bureaucracy, a DDO branch of the Erisian Front, a subdivision of the Discordian Back, a Limb of the Illuminatian Cosmic Utensil Corp
Ore_Ele
Posts: 25,980
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8/30/2011 10:27:33 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Of course, there is a point where it goes to far. It is interesting to notice the cultural dietary habits of the area that Plato was writing. I think that he would be whistling a different tune if he could be teleported to modern day USA.

As said earlier, healthy lifestyles help ensure a higher quality of life. Being physically able to play with your grandchildren, and not being hampered by diabetes or a heart condition from being overweight and unhealthy is merely one example.

I think if anything, Plato would be warning people about fad diets and striving for perfect healthiness (even though that can not be achieved). You need to be healthy enough to do what you love to do.
"Wanting Red Rhino Pill to have gender"