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The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 4, 1998

Bioethics and Medical Ethics

Peter Novak
Pages 107-111

Coping with Existential Threats and the Inevitability of Asking for Meaningfulness

How philosophy is educating humanity will be explained regarding an actual example concerning the new public health paradigm or health promoting research. The central point of reference is the discussion of the decisive substantiation of the work of medical sociologist, Aaron Antonovsky; his approach to salutogenesis is opposed to the usual approach of pathogenesis. Here, emphasis is put on "Sense of Coherence" (SoC). It will be shown that, in contrast to Antonovsky's original intention, the relation to the natural sciences and scientific medicine is sufficient to substantiate neither his central arguments nor the relation to the continental traditions of philosophy, especially to existential philosophy and to philosophical hermeneutics mentioned in his latest works. Therefore, referring to a prominent sociological representative of modern health science, means-end rationality is no longer able to assert its dominant position in this field, but must be legitimized by value rationality. Antonovsky's concept of SoC also inevitably includes the argument that methodologically oriented explanation (Erklären) of health related problems can never be replaced by sense-oriented understanding (Verstehen).

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