Theoretical Medicine

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 153–164 | Cite as

Health and life

  • Stanley Raffel


This paper considers some of the potential implications for an interest in health of the basic fact that to live is to have been given something in advance. It is suggested that various thinkers such as Alfred Adler, Sartre, and Heidegger are unable to develop a positive attitude toward this fact and therefore are not logically in a position to be committed to health. An alternative to all of these is found in Hannah Arendt's notion that activity is an essential part of life. Following her lead, the paper moves on to a consideration of various forms of human activity, labor, work, and finally action both in terms of how they constitute an advance over the givens of life and how they contribute to health.


Human Activity Positive Attitude Basic Fact Potential Implication 
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  1. Adler, A.: 1918, The Neurotic Constitution, Kegan Paul, London.Google Scholar
  2. Arendt, H.: 1958, The Human Condition, University of Chicago Press, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Beckett, S.: 1954, Waiting for Godot, Grove Press, New York.Google Scholar
  4. Dubos, R.: 1959, The Mirage of Health, Harper and Row, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Freud, S.: 1957, ‘On the history of psychoanalysis’, in Complete Works, Vol. XIV, Hogarth Press, London.Google Scholar
  6. Heidegger, M.: 1962, Being and Time, Basil Blackwell, London.Google Scholar
  7. Sartre, J. P.: 1965, Nausea, trans. R. Baldick, Penguin, London.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing CompanyD. Reidel Publishing Company 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stanley Raffel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghScotland

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