The body is not a secret, though in Saint Augustine, Florida, as well as throughout the greater United States, it is nevertheless hidden away within suits and behind shrubberies.
The goal of this blog is very simple. Three years ago, I began a project that turned out to be as significant as I thought it might. I had come to realize in my third year of medical school that the medical representation of the body was incomplete, which quickly led to the realization that medical knowledge pertaining to the body must be incomplete as well. Moreover, because science in the United States is based upon empiricism, I also realized that experimental research of the laboratory variety would be insufficient for explaining the state of incompletion in which I found the medical body. Though I had intended to pursue a career in Urology, I instead left medical school for what was then as now a matter of conscience.
The Hippocratic oath is introduced at the beginning of medical school, such that medical students are bound to the oath, even if they do not complete medical school. I did not realize how much this was the case until 2 years after I had left medical school. Knowing that I was still bound by the oath of the physician, though I was not myself a medical doctor, placed me a very difficult position. Eventually, I decided to take up the challenge presented in Nietzsche’s The Gay Science, as a “philosophical physician of the exceptional type.”
I am still waiting for a philosophical physician in the exceptional sense of that word—one who has to pursue the problem of the total health of a people, time, race or of humanity—to master the courage to push my suspicion to its limits and to risk the preposition: what was at stake in all philosophizing hitherto was not at all “truth” but something else—let us say, health, future, growth, power, life. (Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Preface, §2)
Read casually, Nietzsche is a trickster. The careful use of language stems both from his training as a philologist as well as the spiritual nature of his work.
Not so long ago, I christened Dr. Geyser’s Health and Wellness Blog in the spirit of Doctor Geyser:
Dr. Geyser as overflow; as the necessary tithing of a surplus of creative energy for which I have no (other) use.
In The Postmodern Condition, Jean-Francois Lyotard questions the ethical legitimacy of scientific knowledge.
The production of proof, which is in principle only part of an argumentation process designed to win agreement from the addressees of scientific messages, thus falls under the control of another language game, in which the goal is no longer truth, but performativity—that is, the best possible input/output equation. The State and/or company must abandon the idealist and humanist narratives of legitimation in order to justify the new goal: in the discourse of today’s financial backers of research, the only credible goal is power. Scientists, technicians, and instruments are purchased not to find truth, but to augment power.
The question is to determine what the discourse of power consists of and if it can constitute a legitimation. At first glance, it is prevented from doing so by the traditional distinction between force and right, between force and wisdom—in other words, between what is strong, what is just, and what is true. I referred to this incommensurability earlier in terms of the theory of language games, when I distinguished the denotative game (in which what is relevant is the true/false distinction) from the prescriptive game (in which the just/unjust criterion pertains) from the technical game (in which the criterion is the efficient/inefficient distinction). “Force” appears to belong exclusively to the last game, the game of technology. I am excluding the case in which force operates by means of terror. This lies outside the realm of language games, because the efficacy of such force is based entirely on the threat to eliminate the opposing player, not on making a better “move” than he. Whenever efficiciency (that is, obtaining the desired effect) is derived from a “Say or do this, or else you’ll never speak again,” then we are in the realm of terror, and the social bond is destroyed. (The Postmodern Condition, p. 46)
[T]he pragmatics of scientific research, especially in its search for new methods of argumentation, emphasizes the invention of new “moves” and even new rules for language games. We must now take a closer look at this aspect of the problem, which is of decisive importance in the present state of scientific knowledge. We could say, tongue in cheek, that scientific knowledge is seeking a “crisis resolution”—a resolution of the crisis of determinism. Determinism is the hypothesis upon which legitimation by performativity is based: since performativity is defined by an input/output ratio, there is a presupposition that the system into which the input is entered is stable; that system must follow a regular “path” that it is possible to express as a continuous function possessing a derivative, so that an accurate prediction of the output can be made.
Such is the “positivist” philosophy of efficiency. …
Science does not expand by means of the positivism of efficiency. The opposite is true: working on a proof means searching for and “inventing” counterexamples, in other words, the unintelligible; supporting an argument means looking for a “paradox” and legitimating it with new rules in the games of reasoning. In neither case is efficiency sought for its own sake; it comes, sometimes tardily, as an extra, when the grant givers finally decide to take an interest in the case. But what never fails to come and come again, with every new theory, new hypothesis, new statement, or new observation, is the question of legitimacy. For it is not philosophy that asks this question of science, but science that asks it of itself.
What is outdated is not asking what is true and what is just, but viewing science as positivistic, relegating it to the status of unlegitimated learning, half-knowledge, as did the German idealists. The question, “What is your argument worth, what is your proof worth?” is so much a part of the pragmatics of scientific knowledge that it is what assures the transformation of the addressee of a given argument and proof into the sender of a new argument and proof—thereby assuring the renewal of scientific discourse and the replacement of each generation of scientists. Science develops—and no one will deny that it develops—by developing this question. And this question, as it develops, leads to the following question, that is to say, metaquestion, the question of legitimacy: “What is your ‘what is it worth’ worth?” (The Postmodern Condition, pp. 53–4)
Modern medicine assumes at its foundation an articulation of life whose origin is metaphysical-political and not biological-scientific. (Giorgi Agamben, The Use of Bodies, p. 201)
The function proper to the machine… is an operation on the living thing that, by “politicizing” its life, renders it “self-sufficient,”namely, capable of taking part in the polis. What we call politics is above all a special qualification of life, carried out by means of a series of partitions that pass through the very body of zoè. But this qualification has no content other than the pure fact of the caesura as such. This means that the concept of life will not truly be thought as long as the biopolitical machine, which has always already captured it within itself by means of a series of divisions and articulations, has not been deactivated. Until then, bare life will weigh on Western politics like an obscure and impenetrable sacral residue. (Giorgi Agamben, The Use of Bodies, p. 203)
- The work remains to be done, repeated, or reversed.
- If it wasn’t for me, I would almost certainly be dead.
- The most dangerous thing for a man to know is that he is sovereign.
See also, First Principles.
Place of residence
Minnesota, United States of America
More from Doctor Geyser
Who is Dr. Geyser?
Dr. Geyser as overflow; as the necessary tithing of a surplus of creative energy for which I have no (other) use.
What is Dr. Geyser’s medical specialty?
Philosophical medicine of the exceptional variety.
Is Dr. Geyser a real doctor?
Where is Dr. Geyser from? And where does he practice?
Hammerica, where my pen is the hammer.
What is Dr. Geyser’s health and wellness blog?
- Practical observations that will improve lives, rather than simply ‘saving’ them.
- A definition of “health and wellness” that goes beyond the typical boundaries. Role of a physician that encompasses all areas of life.
- The “anti-villain”: following the model of Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog
- A place for individual stories of their experience with mental/physical issues.
- Ex. The “anti-depressed” state
- Ex. Sexuality, either repressed or in your face
- Introducing relevant medical and scientific research into the public domain. Recovering “lost” knowledge. Also general analysis of issues/limitations of scientific studies, ie. lack of female participation. Generally things that should be “common knowledge” but are not. (Including things you learn in medical school, and things you don’t learn in medical school.)
- Ex. The side effects of alcohol vs. C2 controlled substances
- Ex. Growing rate of maternal mortality in the United States
- Ex. Sexual equality is unscientific, and contrary to even the most unsatisfying encounters with the other sex. Men and women deliver packages of two very different varieties.
- Supporting society, becoming part of a role or “member” of society lacks dignity… so better to hate and fight against things, ability to fight, things you “aren’t supposed to do” as a powerful emotion for unravelling people’s assumptions. I am at my best when fighting against a seemingly impossible enemy. Language is not a direct tool in the sense of not particularly upsetting the balance so everything descends into anarchy, etc. There is power reserved for some people to command and similarly there are those who obey, not that that is a bad system, those who command/obey are not that different other than being few/many, and it rotates. The center of social command is not necessarily in the hierarchy itself. It is hard to find a defined center, a strong society is able to shift, not defined as an upper limit (like the universe).
How can I support Dr. Geyser’s personal initiatives to improve the health and well-being of humanity?
Buy things you don’t need. Or, for all of the American consumers of excess healthcare in the room, “Be yourself.”
Where can I find Dr. Geyser’s most recent publications?
Like Elsevier et al., I support open access.
What is the meaning of life?
Ask a biologist, or maybe your next prey item. What is the meaning of that hoagie you are about to eat? Exactly. Existentialists are cannibals and wife stealers, and “nothing” more.
Sartre can suck it, ’cause he’s not only dead, but he’s also French.
Where do you stand on the moral state of our society?
Ethically speaking, I think most people do not know what they mean when they use the word ‘moral.’ People like to talk about ‘doing the right thing,’ which is probably why the concept of m-orality is so intuitive to them. The controversy surrounding ‘moral relativity’ was probably caused by a widespread fear among Americans that they may actually have to start thinking morally for their moral words to have any meaning.
Where do you stand with respect to…
Frankly, I never know what I am talking about. This is primarily a problem of language, and more specifically the ill-defined suppositories proctored by native speakers of the English language. Apparently, in America at least, and especially at the beginning of academic essays, we can conclude that, because words are defined in the dictionary, this also means they are entirely lacking in ambiguity.
Who is your favorite poet?
Why did you leave medical school?
Health of the soul.—The popular medical formulation of morality that goes back to Ariston of Chios, “virtue is the health of the soul,” would have to be changed to become useful, at least to read: “your virtue is the health of your soul.” For there is no health as such, and all attempts to define a thing that way have been wretched failures. Even the determination of what is healthy for your body depends on your goal, your horizon, your energies, your impulses, your errors, and above all on the ideals and phantasms of your soul. Thus there are innumerable healths of the body; and the more we allow the unique and incomparable to raise its head again, and the more we abjure the dogma of the “equality of men,” the more must the concept of a normal health, along with a normal diet and the normal course of an illness, be abandoned by medical men. Only then would the time have come to reflect on the health and illness of the soul, and to find the peculiar virtue of each man in the health of his soul. In one person, of course, this health could look like its opposite in another person.
Finally, the great question would still remain whether we can really dispense with illness—even for the sake of our virtue—and whether our thirst for knowledge and self-knowledge in particular does not require the sick soul as much as the healthy, and whether, in brief, the will to health alone, is not a prejudice, cowardice, and perhaps a bit of very subtle barbarism and backwardness.
—Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science
Geysers are inherently unpredictable, so check back often to keep abreast !
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions for Dr. Geyser below. Also, as a legal disclaimer, Dr. Geyser is not a medical doctor. If you want medical advice, ask a doctor, or at least someone who does not mind getting sued (e.g. someone protected by malpractice insurance, or those who practice duck medicine (i.e. those who have learned how to waddle past an erotically blindfolded lady justice without bestirring her).