Debate On Human Nature
The Enlightenment view of human nature was an essentially static one (the unique individual who could be perfected according to reason), that of Romantic medicine dynamic (man was unique, but also evolving). While the idea of the mutability of human nature had emerged in the 1700s, it took root in the "dynamization and historification of consciousness through German philosophy."
German philosophy had an emerging view of life and consciousness as activity and action, such as expressed by Fichte: "The only Being is Life. And the modes of action are the only reality of the I." which Röschlaub often quoted, and which idea he expressed himself: "If we call the efficacy of living actions 'Life', then we must say by way of epitomizing this that all these bodies live." (1800) Out of this conception came the possibility of a new presentation of the relation between subject (I, consciousness-organism) and object (outer world, nature). The outer world wins for the first time a fundamental significance for the 'subject'; it can be seen as the ground of consciousness and life; it conditions namely the mode of the subject without annulling it; it is the stimulus of activity which modulates the subject, a view that was strikingly close to that held by John Brown, but which could not be perceived except in the more dynamic context of German Romantic medicine.
The healthcare implications were that a dynamic view considered therapeutic measures affecting the interior milieu important considerations for the physician.Röschlaub entered the debate on this issue arguing for the role of the physician in "social medicine" or hygiene, and the importance of hygiene itself to a scientific medicine, a position that was largely taken up later by Virchow, whose views on this in 1849 could have been word-for-word those of Röschlaub.
- If medicine is to really fulfill its great task, then it must intervene in political and social life at large; it must list the hindrances which stand in the way of the normal fulfillment of the life processes, and work to eliminate them. Should that ever be achieved, then will medicine be as it ought to be – a common property for all. It will then cease to be medicine and will merge into the general, unified body of scientific knowledge which is synonymous with 'know-how'.
However, where Virchow only saw hygiene as a prophylactic measure (negative role), Röschlaub also advocated a positive role, that is, the use of remedial measures to promote health. This was an idea that was largely forgotten until revived by Hans Buchner in 1896 in a lecture on Biology and Health Doctrine, which caused quite a stir in German medical circles, but which also raises the question as to the goal of therapy, a question answered several decades later by the work of Wilhelm Reich and his function of the orgasm (special theory) and the more overarching theory of 'super-imposition.'
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