Health is what allows living organisms to function and enjoy life. itis not amenable to analysis along the domains of Being. Not-unpleasant sensations may accompany it but it is not a sensation. It is not a thought, an emotion or an action, though our thoughts, emotions and actions can promote or demote good health; and some thoughts, emotions and actions are unhealthy. We can be healthy without experiencing much pleasure and without being happy. We can be healthy and still die young, such as from an accident. Health is not an abstraction or an experience of the brain alone. It is a measurable physical reality, which we might call a predicate desire, in distinction from our other basic and core desires.
Entire disciplines of medicine are devoted to aspects of health, including cardiology, neurology, psychiatry, nephrology, pulmonology, gastroenterology, urology, immunology, endocrinology, oncology, the broad field of internal medicine, and many others. Industries have developed around physical fitness and mental health. You could spend your life in the study and practice of any one of these fields, as our doctors do, but little explanation is necessary to make the point that good health is an essential preference.
Book narratives on the effects of public issues on health:
- Catherine Coleman Flowers, Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret (The New Press, 2020): “ Rush’s home had no septic system. It would have cost at least $15,000, a price she couldn’t afford. Moving wasn’t an option . . .”
On dealing with illness:
- Tessa Miller, What Doesn’t Kill You: A Life With Chronic Illness – Lessons From a Body in Revolt (Holt, 2021): about getting good medical care for IBS.
Technical and Analytical Readings
- Elizabeth Rosenthal, An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back (Penguin Press, 2017): “As Rosenthal describes American health care, it’s not really a market; it’s more like a protection racket — tolerated only because so many different institutions are chipping in to cover the extortionary bill and because, ultimately, it’s our lives that are on the line.”
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
From the dark side:
- Rebecca Makkai, The Great Believers: A Novel (Viking, 2018): “ . . . a page turner about illness and mortality.”
From the dark side:
- Edgar Lee Masters, “Zenas Witt”