08 October 2020

Is health the most important thing in life?


Is health the most important thing in life? topic by Ignacio


As in many problems in our daily life and certainly philosophy the primary cause of the problem is language. Just because a language act is grammatically correct and makes sense to our mind it does not follow that the language act is necessarily a legitimate or justifiable linguistic act. So what is the language issue with our question?


Health, as in ‘good health’ is not a thing; it is not an empirical object we can touch and examine at will. Indeed in English we do not say "I have good health" but rather "I'm in good health". That ‘in’ instead of that ‘have’ says it all; we have to arrive at good health rather than obtain or ‘purchase’ good health..


Indeed health, including good health, is a state of affairs of our physical bodies rather than a component of our bodies. Thus good health (I will use this term to also mean health) is the state of the various organs and systems (genes, immune system, bone marrow, glands etc) functioning as they should be functioning. Of course, when such organs fail there might be a number of factors and causes that influence the malfunction of these organs. A note in passing, good or bad health also included our mental and psychological state and not just the usual culprits of bad health.


Of course, these harmful causes might be due to our actions and behaviour, but this is not a necessary condition. We might, as we already know, be victims of the environment, diseases, genes, viruses and so on. What this implies is that rather than being made in some image of a god or gods, we are the product of the chaos of evolution with all the weaknesses of a biological creature. Surely survival of the fittest cannot mean that those who survive are some super strong creatures, maybe luckier that their fallen brethren, yes.


Moving on from the language aspect, what matters is not the answer, which most would certainly say "yes" health is the most important thing in our life, but for us as philosophy investigators to discover what happens after "yes". What this implies is that we have to discover what needs to be done to secure a reasonable level of good health?


The ‘yes’ we give to our question implies that we also have to accept the consequences of that yes. For example, the physical environment we live in plays a crucial role in our health. This does not only imply the climate and geographical conditions we live in, but also the state of resources we have to feed ourselves and protect ourselves from the elements.


The second level of importance in our quest for good health must surely be how we care for ourselves: what we eat, what we do, our routines, and our ability to be fit. But our good health also depends on being able to cure ourselves when things go a bit awry. Indeed some might argue that healthcare should be our first priority, and I do agree after all the quest for effective healthcare is as old as the hills.


Apart from trying to fix our health healthcare is also big business, and this is where the ‘yes’ and ‘good health’ come into conflict with reality. To cut a long story short, so far the most efficient model of healthcare is when healthcare is available free at the point of need.


If the categorical type statement, “Health is the most important thing in our life” (universal affirmative), then as the statement suggests good health must be universalisable to everyone. Thus a healthcare system that by design or by accident excludes someone from healthcare must by definition contradict the “yes” to our question. Some cite the cost of healthcare, to mitigate against universal healthcare, all I will say is that most if not all countries have resources and create enough wealth of offer free healthcare.


To conclude, the more pressing issue for us is not whether health is the most important thing in our life, but rather how do we stop others from encroaching on our good health or means to protect our good health.



Best and take care



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