S. Stephen Jayard
Human body is a complex phenomenon. It is not just the assembly of several individual parts. In Philosophy there is a tendency called, Reductionism. Reductionism in general means that the nature of complex things can be understood by reducing them to the functions and interactions of their parts that are simpler and more fundamental things. For instance natural sciences are shown to be reduced Physics. However, there are other views to challenge reductionism. For instance, Emergentism advocates that complex systems and patterns are the emergent properties out of simple interactions among their multiple parts. Similarly, according to Holism, the complex systems are intrinsically irreducible and since the whole is more than the sum of its constituents, only a holistic approach can understand them properly. In medical sciences disease is to be seen as something more than the sum of disordered parts and interactions among them. Therefore, a patient and his/her disease must be seen as a whole, rather than judging them only at their interactions between cellular or molecular levels. Vitalism argues that the laws of physics and chemistry alone will not be sufficient to the processes of life and unlike physico-chemical forces life-principle is self-determining.
The recent researches and the discoveries in the fields of Bio and Medical Sciences reveal the amazingly complex structures and intricate functions of human body. Our body is no more seen as ‘a mere physical structure of ‘tissues, cells and molecules’, but it is ‘an organic system,’ where each and every part is marvelously inter-linked with one another. For instance, we cannot clearly understand the relationship between brain and consciousness (body and mind). We know brain is involved with the fact of consciousness, but we cannot understand the functions of the brain completely. As long as we have to use our brains in our investigations into the nature and functions of brain there will be some residue that we cannot fully understand. Different disciplines of Philosophy, Psychology and Medical Sciences are busy with this incredible issue. Similarly, what is life or living? – No simple and straightforward answer seems to be available in any one discipline. The usual signs of moving, eating, procreating etc are only the signs of life, and they don’t explain what life itself.
From the fact that reality is complex and cannot be reduced to one simple understanding we learn that we need to be comfortable with differences. It is not possible to bring everything under one framework. We need to learn to celebrate differences. Yes, unity is a virtue that leads a society towards peaceful living, tolerance, acceptance of different views, whereas uniformity looks for a society, where everyone thinks and acts in the same way, having little room for appreciating differences. While the former can easily accommodate differences of opinions and collective wisdom, the latter is, in principle, against this; the former looks for unification based on agreement, while the other for unification based on similarity; the former aspires for harmony of opinions to form a consensus, which is agreeable within a group, without sacrificing everyone’s uniqueness, while the latter harmonizes all members of the group by destroying the uniqueness of each member and forcing all to conform to a single pattern. As social beings we need to learn to live accommodating differences and celebrating diversities.
Let us, therefore, celebrate differences – in our cultures, religious ideologies, viewpoints and so on, while being rooted in the spirit of unity for the betterment of humanity and nature.