Chicken or Egg? – Causality in Complex Systems

What came first, the chicken or the egg? This is a common thought experiment (and actual scientific question) that represents a paradox of causality. This is a good example of linear causality, a hallmark of Western philosophical and scientific thought. This is the basis for reductionism, whereby a complex system is reduced systematically to its component parts, and each part is evaluated for its contribution to the whole. However, issues arise when examining a complex system.

Side Effects – An Unwanted Result

Most people know what side effects are. They are the results of something a person does, or of a medication that a person takes, or perhaps a decision a person makes; and these results are either unnecessary, or unwanted, or sometimes even counter to the effect the person was going for. But there is really no such thing as a side effect. There are only effects, which can be helpful, neutral, or harmful. Therefore the question becomes whether all the effects can be known, and whether the helpful effects are worth the cost of the harmful ones.

A Patient Patient

It is not coincidence that the word patient refers both to a person undergoing medical care and to the quality of “bearing hardship with fortitude and calm.” For anyone with a health concern it can be incredibly difficult to have patience, yet this quality of bearing, enduring, and permitting is so important! If you are using your energy to fight against your condition, becoming upset, irritable, or frustrated, then you have that much less vitality to devote to healing yourself. Bearing calmly with your situation creates the necessary space to affect a transformation of your condition.

Comparing Chinese and Western Medicine – Part 3

Western thought, with its bottom up approach, can be characterized by deductive logic and linear thought processes. Leon Hammer, in his article Science of East and West, describes deductive logic as beginning with a theory, or hypothesis, and then testing it to find out if it is true or not. The thought process goes from the general to the specific, starting with an idea and then testing its validity. In order to properly test a theory, extraneous variables must be suppressed or eliminated, as otherwise it becomes too complex to analyze. Causation is considered linearly, ...

Comparing Chinese and Western Medicine – Part 2

There are foundational assumptions in the system that underlies Chinese Medicine, just as there are these assumptions for the West. The foundational concepts in Chinese Medicine come from Daoism (Taoism) and Confucianism, paraphrased best by the first and well-known section of the Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching) by Laozi (Lao Tzu) (1, 2, 3). The following are my personal understanding of these foundational concepts, according to my own readings and education...

Comparing Chinese and Western Medicine – Part 1

Both Chinese and Western Medicine are used by millions of people worldwide to successfully treat and prevent disease. Because of the dominance of Western culture there has been a movement to try and understand Chinese Medicine from a Western scientific perspective, and to explain Chinese Medicine in Western scientific terms. However, the model of reality proposed by Chinese Medicine contains fundamental assumptions that are counter to the fundamental assumptions of Western science. The difference in these assumptions lead naturally to a divergent view of reality, one that has frustrated scientists, doctors, and scholars as they search for a common understanding. I have come to understand how certain areas overlap, but it is important to grasp the underlying differences between these two systems.

Why Gift? A Modern Perspective

The gift-based economy is the oldest form of economy and the one that we have used throughout the majority of human evolution. When humans lived in small groups where everyone knew everyone else the predominant mode of economic exchange was based on gift. In these societies the exchange and circulation of gifts fostered connections and relationships, built upon gratitude and mutual goodwill. In the modern capitalist economy when a transaction is completed the relationship is contractually closed, there is no more obligation, and all parties can walk away without leaving anything behind.

What is Health?

For many people health is simply the lack of disease. This has been the definition in the wider medical community for a long time, though it is starting to shift as health professionals begin to embrace a broader definition of health. In conventional medicine the issue of health is only briefly touched upon, and the majority of the focus is on disease. Conventional medicine has an amazing number of different diseases categorized...

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