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It is often contrasted with ethos, which is associated with unflappable or unquestionable character, and with logos, which is concerned with an argument's strength or validity. Pathos involves the transient and deficient, while ethos the permanent and ideal. Pathos is also one of the three proofs pistesis , along with logos logical validity and ethos credible character , which Aristotle delineated in the Rhetoric.

The function of pathos is to persuade another through an emotional appeal. Pathos as used here, however, transcends the emotional or even the logical. It is a power or force that operates like an assumption in a metaphysical sense.

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Although emotion as pathos may represent a power, pathos per se is not limited to just an emotional force. It is a power or force that makes possible, especially in terms of creating or transforming, whether at the logical or ethical level. The use of pathos as a power or force akin to a metaphysical assumption must also be distinguished from the notion of "metaphysical pathos," as developed by Arthur Lovejoy Lovejoy distinguished five types of metaphysical pathos, including the pathos of obscurity, esoteric, eternalistic, monistic or pantheistic, and voluntaristic.

Since Lovejoy published his notion in the mid s, others have identified additional types of metaphysical pathos. For example, bureaucratization represents a metaphysical pathos that shaped post-World War II industrialization Gouldner, And, "technicism" is a metaphysical pathos that has shaped much of contemporary social organization McSwain and White, Interestingly, the fear over technicism is that it may result in a "broad-scale emotional anesthetization of the human race," unless accompanied by openness to a "caring commitment.

We live in an information age, an age in which we know more than ever, and yet, an age in which we face more problems than ever but fewer solutions to those problems. Many medical pundits comment especially on the glut of knowledge and information and yet on the dearth of wisdom for applying that knowledge and information in the biomedical sciences.

For example, Robert Pollack queries: "Why is there not more wisdom in the application of scientific discoveries to the lives of sick and suffering people?


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The issue for contemporary medicine is how to move beyond biomedical knowledge and information to wise application of that knowledge and information in clinical practice. Although Pollack and others attempt to answer this bothersome question, part of the problem in answering it is that wisdom itself is not well understood and difficult to explicate.

What is wisdom?

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The ancient Greeks defined it in terms of action with respect to virtue, whether intellectual or moral. The wise person acts in accordance with the virtues and the virtuous person acts in accordance with wisdom, especially to enhance a person's flourishing or eudaimonia.

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle called wisdom "the most finished of the forms of knowledge" and divided it into the theoretical or philosophical sophia and the practical or political phronesis , a Theoretical wisdom is contemplative in nature and is sought for its own sake: "philosophic wisdom is scientific knowledge, combined with intuitive reason, of the things that are highest by nature" Aristotle, , 1 b The intuitive reason is nous or the ability to grasp the first principles, while the scientific knowledge is episteme that involves knowing the four causes.

In other words, it is concerned with the pragmatic activities of life. Practical wisdom is concerned not only with universals, like theoretical wisdom, but also with particulars, unlike theoretical wisdom. Moreover, Aristotle argued that theoretical wisdom ranks higher than practical wisdom, since practical or political wisdom is concerned with man, who is "not the best thing in the world" , a Contemporary approaches to wisdom are indebted to the ancient Greeks.

There are several components inherent to this definition, including knowledge, reflectiveness, judgment, and self-trust Blanshard, ; Kekes, ; Szawarski, The first component of wisdom is knowledge or facts Szawarski, Drawing on John Kekes distinction between descriptive and interpretative knowledge, Zbigiew Szawarski claims that "if there is any knowledge relevant for wisdom it is knowledge of what matters, what is important, what has merit, and what is significant in the human predicament" , p.

Wisdom, then, consists of interpretative, not descriptive, knowledge. Interpretative knowledge is the product of "basic assumptions," which "mark the dimensions of human experience by setting limits to human possibility; variations and differences occur within these limits" Kekes, , p. Basic assumptions are the universally held assumptions that are used to interpret facts and thereby yield interpretative knowledge. The use of these assumptions for making genuine and accurate interpretations depends on the "breadth and depth" of one's experience.

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The end result of interpretative knowledge is eudaimonia or the good life. Another important component of wisdom is reflectiveness, which he defines as "the habit of considering events and beliefs in the light of their grounds and consequences" Blanshard, , p. In other words, wisdom consists in foresight into the possible course of action that would result from certain beliefs about the way the world is or should be. If one subscribes to a particular set of beliefs, then a certain set of events is possible.

The task of a wise person is to foresee which course of action is best or good, given a specific set of conditions. Reflectiveness is critical then for gaining interpretative knowledge, which is required for presaging the consequences of a certain set of beliefs and actions. Besides foresight, reflectiveness is also necessary for correcting unwise behavior and choices.

It reminds the unwise of the relevance of their own descriptive knowledge to their pursuits" , p. Wisdom obtained through reflectiveness informs the wise person as to what is possible and what is not, thus guarding a person against ideals that outstrip his or her moral and intellectual resources. Both knowledge and reflectiveness are the bases for making a wise or good judgment.

It is also," he adds, "a capacity of applying general knowledge or general rules in particular situations" , p. A wise or good judgment often involves perceiving which value, among a set of competing values, applies to a particular case, and then making the most appropriate decision based on that value.

Often a very important value may be transgressed or inverted, resulting in a decision that would not be considered good or wise under alternative circumstances. As an example, Szawarski cites the general values of life and also health as good and death and also disease as bad. But, in medical care there are times when death is not bad but good; and a patient must be allowed to die in peace and with dignity rather than to be kept alive, through extraordinary means, in pain and ignobly. A wise or good judgment involves recognition of human limitations and possibilities, especially in terms of good ends and of appropriate means to those ends Kekes, Without such recognition, wisdom devolves into platitudes.

Finally, wisdom also relies on trusting the beliefs that one accepts and the choices and preferences they inspire Lehrer, ; Szawarski, This trust of one's beliefs, choices, and preferences is based on the fact that one's ability or capacity to reason correctly and accurately and to make good judgments is trustworthy. Even though one is limited in terms of one's knowledge and cognitive capacity, one must, at some point, trust that they are adequate to understand a difficult situation and to make a good and wise decision as how to proceed vis-n-vis that situation.

Without such self-trust, one "can neither construct, nor critically evaluate the structure, content, coherence and practical implications of that general pattern of [one's] world defining values and beliefs" Szawarski, , p. Self-trust is the basis for a life of reason and wisdom. Acceptance and preference are, after all," according to Keith Lehrer, "my best efforts to obtain truth and merit, and if they are not worthy of my trust, then I am not worthy of my trust, and reason is impotent" , p.

Without self-trust wisdom again devolves into platitudes and the only path is skepticism, which Lehrer claims is "sterile". Szawarski applies these traits of wisdom to medicine and the healing professions. First he distinguishes between medical and clinical knowledge, with the former derived from scientific knowledge and the latter from the individual patient.


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  5. The wise physician is one who demarcates between them and in each medical case he or she "should be able to assess properly what the real importance of things is" Szawarski, , p. Of course, this assessment depends on the physician's reflectiveness upon both medical and clinical information. Only a proper assessment of such information can lead to a good or wise clinical judgment. For Szawarski, a physician "cannot acquire and develop good clinical judgment without gathering some experience and that is possible only through methodical and meticulous studies of this or her] patients.

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    In this sense," he adds, "clinical judgment is indeed a fundamental principle of the art of medicine and involves several more specific arts such as: the art of logical and critical thinking, the art of seeing and understanding the meaning of signs and symptoms, the art of communication, and the art of collecting and interpreting clinical data" , pp. Finally, a physician must trust his or her medical and clinical knowledge, reflection on that knowledge, and judgment based on it, or the physician is simply impotent in his or her trade.

    Moreover, self-trust has a therapeutic value: "If you do not trust yourself, you cannot expect that your patient will trust you" Szawarski, , p. For the development of wisdom, then, pathos is necessary to transform facts, objective knowledge, and subjective information into wise judgments. As an authentic and a genuine way of being in the world, pathos makes accessible the necessary and sufficient power or force to transform biomedical facts into wise clinical insights. Lonergan recognizes five features of this transformation:.

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    It is heuristic, for it brings to light the relevant data. It is ecstatic, for it leads the inquirer out of his original perspectives and into the perspectives proper to his object. It is selective, for out of the totality of data it selects those relevant to the understanding achieved. It is critical, for it removes from one use or context to another the data that might otherwise be thought relevant to present tasks. It is constructive, for the data that are selected are knotted together by the vast and intricate web of interconnecting links that cumulatively came to light as one's understanding progressed , pp.

    Pathos allows the physician and patient to interpret the biomedical facts for a particular patient with respect to the general knowledge and information available through the biomedical sciences and then to negotiate a treatment plan, in light of what is best and good for the patient in terms of the patient's values and needs. It is the affective basis for empathic insights into a patient's suffering and for motivation to relieve that suffering. Pathos reflects the very essence of human nature vis-d-vis human knowing, in making possible wise decision and action.

    What is love? Unfortunately, like wisdom love is not easily defined and has a multitude of meanings: "The word proves indispensable but notoriously imprecise" Outka, , p. Traditionally love is considered a feeling or an emotion. Definitions based on this understanding of love, envision it as an affective disposition or emotional state. For example, the British philosopher, Henry Sidgwick , defined love as "primarily a pleasurable emotion, which seems to depend upon a certain sense of union with another person" , p.

    Edward Vacek has identified four components to the structure of love. The first is an openness of the heart, in that humans are made to love. Both the lover and the beloved must have open and receptive hearts. The next component is that the lover is conscious of the beloved's value. The third component is that the lover is affected or changed by the beloved's value. The final component is the lover's response to the beloved's value. The ultimate goal is the full expression of both agents in a loving relationship. Traditionally, there are several types or aspects of love.