Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Plato’s and Bacon’s views on the role of medical care for chronic diseases

(Abstracted from the essay on Francis Bacon by Lord Macaulay)

“To Plato, the science of medicine appeared to be of very disputable advantages. He did not indeed object to quick cures for acute disorders, or for injuries produced by accidents. But the art which resists the slow sap of a chronic disease had no share of his esteem. A life protracted by medical skill he pronounced to be a long death. The exercise of the art of medicine, he said, ought to be tolerated so far as that art may serve to cure the occasional distempers of man whose constitutions are good. As to those who have bad constitutions, let them die and the sooner the better…

Far different was the philosophy of Bacon. His humble aim was to make imperfect man comfortable, to increase the pleasures and to mitigate the pains of millions, of a valetudinarian who took great pleasure in being wheeled along his terrace, who relished his boiled chicken and his weak wine and water. Bacon would not have thought it beneath the dignity of a philosopher to contrive an improved garden chair for such a valetudinarian, to devise some way of rendering his medicines more palatable, to invent repasts which he might enjoy, and pillows on which he might sleep soundly…”



Summer 2023  |  Sections  |  End of Life

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