Week 6: The Nature of Life

Living versus non-livingThere is a large part of me that wonders, “what is not a living system?” In some ways I believe that having a world view of everything as living instills a sense of wonder, amazement and respect. But our conversations in class made sense: that living systems include a pattern of organization (autopoiesis), structure and life’s process and that these 3 criteria are completely interdependent. Living systems involve continual change and are constantly interacting with life and its environment. A live system is one that is constantly interacting…such as a cell, where each cell is continually synthesizing, dissolving, eliminating and transforming…
The significance of the use of language and tools in Chimps:
I think the significance has to do with accepting that other life forms than humans use language and tools. It is in no way surprising, but as humans, we usually relegate language and tools to “our realm.” The significance of language and tools establishes different species do communicate with each other. Generally speaking, we assess animals on our own abilities and assume their language is primitive and rudimentary. We also discount and don’t really acknowledge how they make functional tools such as fraying grass or how they pass on and teach tool usage to groups, or how generationally, they establish social norms.

Language among chimps and other animals suggest their abilities to socially communicate and function. Just like humans, I imagine that language and pragmatic customs are very cultural and take up residence in communities of animals like chimps. Animals use tones that carry various levels and shades of meaning. Their use of language is very social.

Is Chinese Medicine gaining respectability in the West?  I think it’s gaining respectability because people are starting to accept the limitations of Western Medicine, which is really effective for addressing trauma and “heroic medicine.” Also, I think that we are culturally expanding our understanding that there are very complex interactions between mind, body, and brain that have to do with illness and our health. TCM gives a different view of health and addresses the psycho-spiritual and mind/body connections.

We read that more than 1/4 of adults are turning to “alternative practioners” because conventional methods are not working. People are having positive results from Chinese medicine and when this happens, word eventually spreads. I think there’s also been a number of studies in the NIH in the past 15 years that have shown positive results from Chinese Medicine, especially in pain management. As practioners, I do believe we need to be visible and conversational about the benefits of Chinese Medicine and how it works. By demystifying it, I believe it will gain more credibility. Also, the fact that Chinese Medicine is even being looked at by the NIH proves that its gaining credibility, but I also feel this has it’s risks. While it is critical that Chinese Medicine is funded in terms of trails and studies which will be used to establish credibility, I think the medicine represents a very different paradigm, and has its own language and conceptual understanding in how it makes connections between observations to diagnosis to treatment, which is far from Western Conventional medicine. What makes me nervous is that Chinese Medicine will need to fit into the paradigm of Western Medicine, instead of being able to appreciate what makes it distinct in the first place.

Why I’ve benefited so much from Chinese medicine is because of its willingness to address me as an entire person. As a future practioner, I want to really make my practice about working with people transformationally, wherever they are at in their healing process. I know that I’ll need to develop my skills of communication so that I’ll be able to explain the process and the connections between observations to diagnosis to treatment.

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