How Can Plato Be Relevant for Contemporary Medicine?
Keywords:Plato, platonic, autonomy, doctor-patient relationship, holistic medicine
Until recently, Aristotle’s notion of φρόνησις dominated the conversation regarding the merits ancient philosophy might have for contemporary bioethics. On the other hand, the platonic approach of medicine was severely underappreciated by specialists in ancient philosophy. In this paper we argue that some of Plato’s teachings can be relevant for contemporary medicine. Specifically, we show that the Dialogues provide a special understanding about approaching the relationship between part and whole when dealing with individual patients and communities. Secondly, we argue that the contemporary notion of autonomy might get clearer if we use Plato’s distinction between appearance and good. The paper concludes that root philosophical definitions that doctors and patients need might be inspired by Plato, and that the medical profession as a community of peers might play a role in balancing political definitions as well as individual ones with respect to the very core of medical practice.
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