Which Medicine?

Do we need a paradigm shift in medicine? Or just better research?

Back in 1977,  Willis Harman, US physicist, professor of  electrical engineering, social scientist and futurist, stated:

“…since we have come to understand that science is not a description of ‘reality’, but a metaphorical ordering of experience, the new science does not impugn the old. It is not a question of which view is “true” in some ultimate sense. Rather, it is a matter of which picture is more useful in guiding human affairs”  (Symposium on Consciousness).

For Harman, there is no need for a dogmatic paradigm shift,  a revolution in theoretical thinking, of the sort Thomas Kuhn, the eminent historian of science, had described as inevitable fifteen years earlier. Harman’s interest did not lie with those who claim to possess ultimate truth – new or old –  but with those who live and work in consciousness, wishing to be useful in guiding human affairs.

40 years on, we are still prone to get caught up in dogmatic discussions, while pragmatic and holistic approaches are needed more than ever. Fortunately, since the 1970ties  leading universities, medical schools and other research institutions in the USA have,  inspired by different models of understanding disease and the causes of disease, put money and effort into new,  interdisciplinary research projects – despite much resistance in the medical professions.  As a result the field  was  much transformed and extended, with the creation of for example of  Bio Physics  and the  profound transformation of Bio Medicine.

There is now a growing demand for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and its integration into mainstream health systems world wide. Much of the new international research in the life sciences involves scientists experienced or inspired by Chinese Medicine . And in China itself money and resources have also been made available  to establish the validity of  the ancient Chinese model of medical diagnosis and intervention and its integration into the frame work of Western style scientific research and medicine.