Art of Healing, Medicine and Humanity: A Conceptual Discourse

Art of Healing, Medicine and Humanity: A Conceptual Discourse

Parvez Imam
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 5
DOI: 10.4018/ijudh.2013100108
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Medicine is the art of relieving others of their suffering. It requires technology and methodologies that science has helped us develop. However the understanding of pain and its impact in peoples' lives and on the society as a whole is often missed out in the skewed focus on the search for happiness (“Definition of happiness - state (British & World English),” n.d.). Pain is an important symptom that serves as a warning as well as a pointer for an illness. Here the authors re-examine the reasons that connect pain and suffering to artists and healers as well as the connection between an artist and a healer. It also dwells on the age old science versus arts argument and its validity.
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Ye ishq nahin aasaan bas itna samajh lijey, Ek aag ka dariya hai aur doob ke jaana hai (Love isn’t easy, get that my friend, It’s a river of fire, and to cross it, you must drown and accept it’s ire).

Vincent Van Gogh, the Dutch painter, on the other hand wandered through a more defined insanity and languished at mental asylums while still painting his apparently crazy ideas furiously. The critics and the gentry of his time, rejected his work as useless. But, the force of his painful creativity kept him on that path of doing what he wanted - suffering the demons of social acceptance while expressing his turmoil through the harsh strokes and striking colors on canvasses, perhaps the only things that accepted him silently.

Many may believe so, but science (“Science,” 2012) can not be devoid of art. Whenever art is taken out of science, it becomes mere technology. Consider for example the story of the so called Eureka moment of Archimedes (“The story behind Archimedes’ legendary ‘Eureka!’ moment,” n.d.) when he realized that water gets displaced from his bath tub when he enters it. Whether he shouted ‘Eureka’ and ran naked through the streets in his excitement to inform the king, could well be fiction. The fact that his discovery happened neither in a laboratory nor while he was performing an experiment, points towards the ability of the mind to constantly wonder, question, analyze, deduce and express… exactly the process an artist undergoes.

August Kekule (“Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,” n.d.), in 1865, published a paper describing the structure of the Benzene molecule. He had fallen asleep while pondering over the structure and dreamt of a snake holding its tail in its mouth, forming a ring like structure. He woke up and interpreted that ring as six Carbon atoms with alternating double and single bonds. Newton watched an apple fall and contemplated about gravity. Galileo Galilei’s (“The Galileo Project,” n.d.) passion turned him almost blind towards the end of his life because of his gazing at the sky and the sun for years through his telescope, to confirm, re-confirm and re-affirm that the earth is not as holy and powerful as religion suggested and that it revolved around the sun. Having uttered the blasphemous words and post his inquest by the church, he was made to retract his statement and confined to his house for the rest of his life, perhaps to prevent the world from getting polluted by his thoughts. Yet, his thoughts prevailed and changed the way we think today. As per the play Galileo, written by Bertolt Brecht, the well known German playwright, Galileo encouraged his students (before he was barred by the church to experiment and teach about the celestial bodies in the sky) to question and challenge one’s own ideas in every possible way and to re-examine them from every possible angle to see if they really work. In other words, not only did he just look at the planets and the stars but he also tried to interpret and deduce by letting his mind free to imagine, think and create concepts beyond what he saw. That is the way of science to develop logic – question, examine, understand, conceptualize, explain and express.

The word ‘science’ itself came from Latin ‘scientia’ which means ‘knowledge’. It refers to a way of ‘pursuing knowledge’, not just knowledge itself, and that is the way of constant questioning. Art on the other hand, engages people by questioning, thinking, exploring and expressing what the artist has figured out after an exploration of whatever he is engaged with. Galileo was an artist in terms of perfecting his ideas and explanations through observations of the planetary motions and questioning of the existing concept of the crystal sphere that held the universe together. It was his passion that led him to peep through his telescope and deduce that the earth revolves around the sun which he then expressed in words. Another interesting fact, and perhaps the bigger reason why the church got after him, was that he chose to publish his thoughts about the earth and the sun in vernacular Italian, rather than Latin (the language used for the elite and professional scientific discourse at that time). This was a deviation from the norm, like an artist trying to take art beyond the confines of the elite art galleries and hallowed spaces, to the common people, in a bid to experiment with the reach of newer ideas. That little act of his made the common people connect with a larger idea of questioning things in life, rather than remaining subservient to the authorities.

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