William E. Stempsey
College of the Holy Cross
Popular visions of holistic health and holistic medicine are not so much reactions to perceived excesses of technological medicine as they are visions of the good life itself and how to attain it. This paper attempts to clarify some of the concepts associated with holistic health and medicine. The particular vision of holistic health presented here is well exemplified in the writings of Plato. First, I examine the scientific concept of holism and argue that, while medicine is inadequately characterized by scientific reductionism, any plausible holistic medicine must make room for a limited scientific reductionism. Next, I analyze the complexity of Plato's usage of health and demonstrate some of the parallels between Plato's thought and popular and scientific visions of holistic health. Finally, I look at what Plato has to say about medical practice and the relation of medicine and philosophy as therapies for the whole person
Keywords health  holism  holistic health  holistic medicine  medicine  Plato
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1011425102809
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