Ars longa, vita brevis

Ars longa,
Vita brevis,
occasio praeceps,
experimentum periculosum,
iudicium difficile.

Art is long,
and Life is short,
opportunity fleeting,
experiments perilous,
and decision difficult. (Hippocrates)

(This is a shorter version of an article published in Advaita Vision)

I tend to be critical, not about the positive, practical advances of science in general and medicine in particular, but about claims of the former concerning ‘progress’ and well-being of the masses. I may post in future an article I wrote many years ago titled ‘What do we mean by health?’, which is still a summary of my position on this matter.

[“Physicians are, by definition, intellectual chimeras because the discipline of medicine is an amalgam of hard science, healing, philosophy, metaphysics and ethics. Each physician must decide what to take and use from that intellectual palette and the decisions they make… “ – Stephen Hage reviewing ‘Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousnes Are the keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe’, by Dr. Lanza.]

There are three myths originated by the Greek genius that I find applicable to some of the concerns pertaining to what I just said: Prometheus, Pandora’s box, and ‘the sorcerer’s apprentice’ (cf. Till Eulenspiegel and his merry pranks). To these, three far-reaching concepts may be added: hubris, nemesis, and ananké (necessity).

Some of the developements in Bio-medicine, such as robotics and artificial limbs, organ-transplantation, stem-cell research with its clinical applications, and the advances in Neuro-science, logotherapy, etc., etc., are really outstanding, whereas things such as viruses and bacteria seem to be getting the upper hand in medicine’s fight against their prevalence and the harm they cause (increasing resistence to antibiotics, and hardly any new antibiotics looming in the horizon). Not to mention Iatrogenic diseases (provoked by pharmacological remedies), and ‘invented pathologies’, such as mourning-related ‘depression’, PMS, ADHD (questionable), DID (dissociative identity disorder), etc. There are also the phony therapies, like Homeopathy, Craniosacral therapy, Chiropractic, Reflexology, and Britain’s most influential nutritionist Patrick Holford and his ‘Optimum Nutrition Bible’.

What to make of efforts at, not just prolonging life, but making people immortal by means of sequential organ transplantation – ad infinitum? This is not a joke: serious efforts by ‘serious’, accredited researchers are being conducted right now (there must be a few millionairs already in the list waiting further developements… similar to those waiting for the first trip to Mars).
Can medical Nanorobots theoretically make us immortal?
>>Gary Miller, Software Developer— Yes, and these are the some of the project milestones that will occur over the next 30 or so years that will indicate that we are making progress towards that goal…)>>

Apart from physical immortality, I have this quote, also to do with physicalism: “Frequently, in explanations disseminated in the culture, the only agency one hears about is the ‘brain,’ and never the ‘mind’ [but]… the brain does not ‘read;’ it does not ‘hear;’ it does not ‘love.'” Robert Geis.

In summary, what I wanted to say is that, personally, I don’t hold any particular hopes for, and enthusiasm towards, the future in terms of further inventions and discoveries by science and technology. For example, I think that there should be a moratorium in further improvements of the cellular pone – it is good enough as it is! And this feeling is extensive to whatever may be found in most fields, which in consonance with man’s imperative towards uncovering the ‘secrets of nature’, related to the Promethean (and Faustian) myths: ‘You will be all powerful, and death will not touch you’.

About amartingarcia

General surgeon (retired). Studied Western philosophy at U of Toronto. Afterwards interest turned to advaita vedanta and non-duality for past 20 yrs, plus a long interlude in Sufism coinciding with that period. Now contributing in ’Advaita Vision’ with regular posts and discussions.
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