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Taj Taher

Honors 222 C
27 May 2015
Seminar 9 Thought Piece
The mereological fallacy, like most effective fallacies, is one that seems to make absolute
sense while committing it. With the advent of new technologies and enhanced scientific
capabilities, the study of biochemistry has increasingly focused on the intricate details of smaller
and smaller portions of a greater whole. It only follows that modern medicine would adopt such
a mentality, given the advances that biochemical research has made possible in the field of
medicine. However, the logic only holds up until one remembers the responsibilities for each
individual. A biochemist may be inspired to pursue research based on the issues he encounters
among people, but this is no way his responsibility. His accountability rests on his own abilities
to further the scope of human understanding. A physicians responsibility, however, is explicit
and unambiguous: the patient. The profession of medicine, traced back to its earliest roots with
the rudimentary healers from centuries upon centuries ago, exists solely because suffering
individuals sought help. The duty of the physician is to relieve that suffering.
This is where medicine seems to have wandered astray. It is true that to relieve suffering,
one must elucidate and extinguish the root of that suffering. However, as the ability to carry out
this process has increasingly grown more expansive and effective, the physician has
misconstrued his duty and purpose. Relieving suffering has become a mechanical task that has
increasingly tied a physicians perceived purpose to the root of suffering while forgetting the
sufferer altogether. Setting broken bones, diagnosing diseases, prescribing medicines, etc.: all the
methods by which a physician performs his duties are made irrelevant if he loses sight of why he
does it in the first place. The mereological fallacy is not a minor oversight. It is a betrayal of the
core principle upon which medicine was established.

The tragedy is that our ever expanding knowledge of the inner workings of the human
body, pursued and attained for the sole purpose of improving the life quality of all sufferers, has
made this betrayal possible. The hubris that knowledge has imparted on the profession of
medicine has allowed cynicism and condescension to seep into the practice. Todays physicians
know infinitely more about their patients bodies than the patient knows himself, a stark contrast
to the far less disparate understandings of primal healers and the sufferers seeking their aid. As a
result, the physician technically knows best, but in acknowledgement of that fact he devalues the
patient and their suffering. As a result, the physician dehumanizes a profession that is
intrinsically human. If medicine is to be practiced in such a way, it does not deserve the haughty
nobility and self-purported prestige surrounding it. If medicine is to be practiced in such a way,
physicians deserve no greater respect than that given to plumbers and electricians.