Tuesday, March 9, 2010
The Inside Dope
We have all seen anatomical illustrations, drawings of the internal parts of the body. The textbooks fall open to those glossy pages of bodies we presume are comparable to our own. Yet it requires a concerted effort to beieve that you yourself, inside, look like those standing stretched figures missing skin. Progress in understanding the human body is a beautiful example of the human mind solving problems. It has often seemed to me though that we underestimate the progress made in medical affairs two thousand years ago. Too often these early practitioners are considered quacks, and this I strongly doubt. When the penalty for a patient's death was that the attending doctor was himself killed, it is unlikely that the doctor did not give his best attention and knowledge to the pending case. The names of early modern doctors who studied the workings of the body are well known, like William Harvey, who studied blood circulation. One reason progress was made was that bodies could be dissected and this did not, to my knowledge, happen before the European renaissance. Again--the triumph of science, pulling apart (to mention the Indo-European root of the word science) to see how the external world works.It would be a foolish person who spoke of progress in mystical affairs. Progress in human self understanding is also a dubious phrase if applied to more than an individual. Yet the directive of know thyself applies to those of us interested in understanding our species and world. Just as we study the outside world, we study our interior world. Though the quacks of modern philosophy would say the interiror experience is too subjective to count as science, Jan Cox merely pointed to his head, and said, "the laboratory is right here." Another picture Jan Cox drew of one's progress was that you alternated investigating the external and the internal worlds. What if the revelations a concerted attempt, (as if your life depended upon your success) with the proper tools, (not discussed in the present format) would bring about one's inner self, were---just a startling as those anatomy illustrations of skinless people? There may yet be a venue in which the scalpel is discussed. Certainly the writings of Jan Cox discuss the tools.