ON THE PROBLEMS OF DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM IN MEDICINE
Author: Ludvik Sheputo; translated by Vasil Cholakov
Editor's Note: While browsing the archive of this booklist and it came to the attention of the editor of this pages, that role of ideological literature in medicine and public health have been undeservedly undervalued. For example, even in good scientific research institutes in the Western Parts of European continent the ratio of historical-philosophical research opposed to real time empirical research is 1 : 10. This ratio stands considerably lower in the countries of former socialist block, where any kind of volatile and free thinking was suppressed. We dare say, that as much as information was available for circulation purposes in the communist system, it was carefully suppressed by surveillance and censoring. This explains the scarcity of philosophical and methodological work on the side of a development in Marxism-Leninism dogma and false economic formulations. So, in few words subsequently it comes clear that a history of Marxism-Leninism thought /i.e., with special off-shoot for socialist philosophy in medicine/, was subject to a very rare branch of research and have to be treated in special chapter with adequate explanations. Fortunately, we have here for the purposes of this project a collection of literature which otherwise have been discarded from medical libraries long time ago, at the early stages of democratic transition in the country from the 1990s. This literature could refresh our memory for the not so long ago socialist past and could make us re-think some of the values, that our forerunners have been debating vigorously in the 60s, 70s and 80s of the century behind. Few living contacts have remained from that period and our sole resources are secondary reference books. We have tried to systematize this whole pile of information and here we present to an interested reader the book from L. Sheputo on Marxism-Leninism philosophy in medicine. Translation is made from Dr. Vasil Cholakov, who appears to be an early transducer of soviet influence in the field of virgin philosophy of medicine in Bulgaria. The importance of the book stems from the fact, that no such literature exist in bulgarian language from the period of Lysenko's dictum in medico-biological sciences. Books like this one and some other of the same caliber have marked a transition for socialist literature - viz., from deep retreat in idealist pastoral philosophy to a more aggressive mode of existentialist thinking, ditto.
We have adopted a straightforward approach and proceed directly to the contents of the book. It comprises five chapters and have a following order - i./ on philosophical theories in medicine and allied health sciences; ii./ on the role of pathological process in medicine; iii./ on the dialectics of anamnesis and etiognostic thinking; iv./ on abstract thinking in diagnostic processes; v./ on the role of complementary methods for studying health and disease. From this schematic table of contents, we are going to pay particular attention to chapter one and in a short briefing for the other chapters of the book. It is important to mention, that most of the information contained in this monograph is scattered in later publications of philosophy merit, however the outstanding role of the book at hand stays untouched.
Chapter One, here we have a review of main streams of thought in critical bourgeois literature on the problems of ideological warfare in medicine. This theme have been treated over and over again, but the main motive have been and remained unchanged until fall of communist system in 1990s - namely, the infallibility of communist / socialist morale and lifestyle, where preponderance is given to the public property of state and society in the hands of the working class.
This chapter is based factually on another book, which stands like a story into the main narrative - cf., "B. Smulevich. Critique on modern bourgeois theories in social hygiene and medicine. Moskow, 1960" /N.B., The book from Smulevich has a very high citation index in bulgarian medical literature, but was never translated in bulgarian language and the original is in russian language/. We are not in a position to retell the contents of the subject matter at hand, since it would have taken a whole seminary to give details and logical signposts. Still we have put on one side some interesting snapshots from the book, which could have been worthy of note to the western reader in particular.
Here in Table 1 is a syllabus from some principle authors and their exponent theories that have been reviewed extensively in the monograph at hand:
~ Whitehead and Heidegger on the process philosophy and existential philosophy;
~ K. Jaspers and J. P. Sartre on the existential psychoanalysis;
~ O. Bird on Charles Pierce's theory of methodology;
~ A. Niedermeyer from West Germany and his post-modern "Foundations of social hygiene", with special reference to relations between state and church;
~ G. S. Whitrow on the study of philosophy of science;
~ M. Opler on the culture, psychiatry and human values;
~ R. Sand from Belgium, who presupposes a merger between capitalism and socialism based on communality of production !?;
~ P. Delor from France, who discusses some interrelations between social hygiene, population education and catholic church, etc.
Conclusion: Our general estimation on the material under review is unequivocal. While in general plan there exist some elements of eclecticism, furthermore the author shows good acquaintance with modern lines of thought in medicine and philosophy. On a summing up agenda the book gets a passing score, however it is presupposed to have in mind that its historical value is conducted via the reference load it conveys. No contingencies for the rightfulness of the socialist system are bookmarked here, although they abound in the text in the form of commentaries on congresses and plenums of the Communist Party. We preclude our article here, hoping at least to have made a small contribution to find the correct cut-off point between the systems of capitalism and socialism.
Copyright © 2006 by the author.