It’s a terribly chilly day here in Olympia. I’ve spent most of the day at my desk, drinking puerh tea, brow furrowed in intense contemplation over some aspects of my developing thesis. I’m exploring the question of the contribution of ethnobotanical knowledge & practices to public health and I face a number of challenges. And chief of these challenges is dealing with the conceptual frame and definition of health itself.
There are many ways to define health and the cultural variations are plenty. Here are some:
World Health Organization. 1948. Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization.
The first lines of the Preamble declare, “in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations, that . . . [h]ealth is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Dubos, René. 1959. Mirage of health. New York: Harper & Row.
Health is “the expression of the extent to which the individual and the social body maintain in readiness the resources required to meet the exigencies of the future.” Read more