project WORLDVIEW worldview theme info         copyright 2009                Home         

Related Words, Beliefs, Background

Worldview Theme #28A: 

                Hedonistic Orientation

  Worldview Theme#28B: 

             Healthy Orientation 

Contrast Worldview Themes #28A and #28B --   these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!            

Contrast Worldview Themes #28A and #29A --   these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!           

discounting the future -- doing or having (consuming) something now, rather than waiting , or rather than investing the money you would have spent and getting a high return on the investment

epicurean -- originally this referred to one who believes that pleasure -- particularly the art of making one’s whole life happy or filling it with both intellectual pleasure and serenity -- is the highest good. The term was later corrupted and became associated with those who sought sensual pleasures and / or had a discriminating taste for food or drink.

food, fast or junk -- food readily and inexpensively available in western consumer societies that unrefined tastes may find tasty, often due to excessive salt, sugar or fat content, but is generally unhealthy and sometimes totally lacking in nutritional value (like soft drinks).  Offerings from multinational corporations specializing in fast food or soft drinks are typically heavily promoted with advertising.  

free lunch, there is no such thing as a--refers to the belief that neither a person nor a society can truly get something for nothing: even if something appears to be free there are always hidden costs. The costs may have to be paid in the future, someplace far away, by someone else, be distributed over many people, or they may show up in another form (such as an opportunity cost, environmental cost, increased disorder, etc.)  The physical basis for this belief--which becomes a principle for ecologists and others studying closed systems--can be found in the laws of thermodynamics.  Economists link it to opportunity costs incurred when choices are made. (If something is free, no opportunities are forfeited!)

gourmet -- a person who is very fond of eating fine, expensive foods, similarly indulging in drink, particularly alcoholic beverages, and brings with this behavior both knowledge and discriminating taste that qualifies him or her as a something of a connoisseur or critical judge of the quality of said food and drink.

grabber -- a derogatory term to be associated with those who succeed wildly in their search for wealth and power (sometimes through ethically questionable means) and, instead of using what they’ve won to help those in need or to make the world a better place, excessively indulge, waste and revel in luxury. It has been charged that their real religion is based on “a gospel of their own wealth”.

guilt associated with leisure -- not fully enjoying leisure activities because, lurking in the back of one’s mind, there is a feeling that time is being wasted, that one should instead be engaged in activities benefiting one’s finances, family, or that represent a more productive contribution to society

happiness principle -- from moral theory, a principle that states that seeking happiness for oneself with someone else’s happiness in mind takes moral precedence over seeking happiness that leads to the loss of happiness for someone else.

introversion vs. extraversion--the contrast between looking within one's self / inner mental state and enjoying solitary pursuits vs. looking outside the self / to others for enjoyment / gratification.  

marginal utility -- the added satisfaction to be had by consuming an additional unit of a commodity. Economic theory suggests that as a person consumes increasingly more of a commodity the marginal utility eventually declines.

objectivism and the virtue of selfishness -- as popularized in the 1950s and 60s by Ayn Rand, objectivism values rational selfishness and views altruism as contrary to human nature. It sees the central purpose of a rational person’s life as productive work, and trade (which it links with justice) as “the only rational ethical principle for all human relationships”. Not surprisingly, this philosophy embraces laissez faire capitalism. Socially, objectivist ethics places the highest value on an individual’s happiness, and denigrates his or her putting aside self interest and sacrificing for others -- singling out as mistaken the belief that one person’s happiness necessarily leads to others’ misery. Politically, its basic principle is “no man may initiate the use of physical force against others”. Rand’s philosophy is embraced by many libertarians and many who rail against “the social welfare state”, “the common good”, "progressive income tax structures", etc.

pagan--the term has two somewhat different meanings: 1) a person who believes there are many gods (polytheist);  2) one who enjoys sensual pleasures (hedonist) and has no religion

playboys and playgirls -- people who have either given up on, or are postponing romance, and instead are seeking sexual partners and associated fun and games aimed at maximizing pleasure while minimizing real involvement and commitment.

polyamory–the practice or philosophy of having more than one loving, intimate relationship and doing so with the consent of all involved.  It promotes idealistic ethical behavior w/o jealousy & possessiveness.

soft drinks -- Non alcoholic and tasty, actually composed of chemically flavored and colored sugar water with dissolved carbon dioxide gas added. Heavily marketed and promoted so that people associate them with "the good life".

victimless crimes -- certain behaviors that most societies frown on, and many have restricted or made illegal, but nonetheless seemingly involve only consenting adults and have no immediately obvious victims. Examples include gambling and prostitution.


























  Contrast Worldview Themes #28A and #28B --   these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!           

AIDS--caused by the HIV virus transmitted sexually, via blood transfusion, by hypodermic needles, or passed between mother and infant, it devastates the immune system.  Around forty million people worldwide (particularly in Africa) have been infected.  While there is no cure or vaccine, increasingly drugs can manage the symptoms.

air pollution--refers to contaminants (chiefly chemical and particulate) that human activities directly or indirectly add to the atmosphere that makes it unhealthy for humans and living things.  Burning of fossil fuels--particularly for transportation--is a major source of such pollution.  While big city smog is an obvious manifestation of local air pollution problems, it also produces regional acid rain and ozone depletion problems, and global climate change.  Besides causing and aggravating respiratory problems, air pollution annually kills 2.4 million people worldwide according to World Health Organization estimates.  Some of these deaths can be attributed to indoor air pollution, caused by cigarette smoke, outgassing from building materials, cancer causing radon gas entering through foundations, etc.

alternative medicine—refers to medical treatments used in place of western conventional ones.  Included here are chiropractic, herbal, naturopathic, homeopathic, Indian / Middle Eastern  (Ayurveda and Unani) and Chinese / Eastern medical treatments.  Use of such medicine in the west is growing—recent surveys suggest that 20% to 40% of British and American adults have turned to alternative medicine in past years. If prayer and faith healing are counted as alternative medical treatments, that higher end of usage rises to around 60%.  While some alternative practices are viewed by mainstream doctors as quack medicine, other alternatives (like acupuncture) are slowly gaining acceptance and seem poised to move into the mainstream.  Some doctors blend conventional and alternative medicine and practice whatever seems to work.

cancer prevention -- Cancer is characterized by rapid, uncontrolled cell division leading to the growth of malignant tumors. Unless there is medical intervention or treatment, such tumors can spread to the rest of the body (metastasis) and death follow shortly thereafter. Here are some generally accepted guidelines to maximizing one’s chances of not dying from it: 1) Don’t smoke; 2) Eat right (see nutrition, good dietary practices) 3) Avoid specific environmental factors known to cause cancer, including ionizing radiation, chemical compounds (arsenic, asbestos, benzene, vinyl chloride, etc), a few viruses (HPV, Epstein-Barr, etc); 4) Minimize exposure to things with the possibility of causing cancer (pesticides, too much sunshine on unprotected skin, fiberglass insulation, etc.)

cardiovascular disease, prevention of -- Cardiovascular disease refers to heart and associated blood vessel disorders including heart attack, stroke, arterio- sclerosis, hypertension, and congestive heart failure. Here are some generally accepted things you can do to minimize your chances of dying from it: 1) Don’t smoke; 2) Eat right (see nutrition, good dietary practices); 3) Maintain a healthy weight (see weight gain, avoiding); 4) get plenty of vigorous, heart-healthy exercise; 5) Avoid high stress lifestyles; 6) Have regular medical checkups, especially if you are over 40, and pay attention to your blood pressure, lipids (cholesterol most notably), blood sugar, and C reactive protein levels).

chakra--according to yoga practitioners / healers, chakras are human body centers that receive, store, express and convey spiritual energy associated with a life force.  Some view them in terms of mediating different levels of consciousness.  There are seven primary chakras--connected with branchings of the nervous system in the spine, and with Chinese medicine acupuncture points. 

cholesterol -- A fatty substance found in the fat, skin, blood, bile, and brain tissues of all animals including humans. It is needed for various life processes: for production of sex hormones, nerve fiber sheathing, vitamin D, etc. At elevated levels, it becomes a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Diets high in saturated fat and trans fatty acids can contribute to elevated cholesterol.

disease -- involves breakdown in normal functioning of body systems, in humans, animals, or plants. If the disease extends over a long period of time, typically with symptoms that are long-lasting and progress slowly, it is said to be a chronic disease.

food preparation and processing--steps that are taken before a potential natural food source is actually consumed as food by human beings.  This can involve removing fibrous plant material or animal skin coverings / innards, washing, chopping, grinding, storing, cooking, and additional processing that can include chemical treatment or preserving.  Some health experts urge people to consume most of their food in as natural a state, with as little processing, as possible.

gene therapy -- by replacing defective genes with normal genes genetic disease can be cured.  This new field holds promise for the future treatment of diseases with a genetic basis. 

health care costs--in the United States topped $2 trillion in 2006, or over $7000 per resident per year--altogether representing 16% of the GDP. This latter figure is the highest of any nation in the world; for comparison Canada, which has a publicly funded health care system, spends 9% of its GDP on health costs. 

health insurance-- protection against hospital and medical care expenses (and sometimes lost income) due to an illness, injury, or accident.  In countries with publicly funded health care systems or related social welfare programs, it is provided free or inexpensively by the government. Elsewhere it can be obtained from private insurance companies. In 2006, private health insurance premiums cost the average U.S. family $12,106; 47 million people (16% of its population) were uninsured.  

iatrogenic illness--illness caused by medical treatment.  Some estimates put U.S. deaths caused by medical error in hospitals at 250,000 / yr, and by prescription drugs at 100,000 / yr --making this a leading cause of death!

marriage and health--research indicates that married people live longer, healthier lives. In particular, it appears that happily married people better cope with stress, and  suffer less from cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems, cancer, and mental illness than singles.

meditation--employing techniques to regulate one's attention and produce an inner state of clarity, serenity, and even bliss. Some meditate to calm one's inner self, using it as a sort of mind / body medicine; others to experience higher states of consciousness (even cosmic consciousness) in a mystical / religious quest.  Some techniques--called concentrative--involve narrowing one's mental focus to a pre-selected object or process such as one's breathing; others--called mindfulness--expand one's inner vision in non-critical way to include a whole background or field without thinking or dwelling on any of it.

mind / body connection --Wholistic health practitioners have long recognized this important connection, now, increasingly, traditional, reductionist practitioners of western medicine are realizing it as well. If the contents of one’s mind are unhealthy (anxiety-ridden, negative, full of blame, etc) it can literally make the body sick, or get in the way of its getting well. Similarly, psycho- logical health, reducing stress, being upbeat, feeling loved, or having expectations (see placebo effect) etc. can be linked to maintaining or regaining physical health. To underscore the importance of feeling loved / not being lonely, Dr. Dean Ornish writes, "I'm not aware of any other factor in medicine -- not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery -- that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness and premature death." 

naturalistic fallacy -- the (many would say) mistaken belief that what happens in nature is always right, to which some would add things like “nature knows best”, “living as nature intended is best”, “natural foods are healthiest”, etc

naturopath -- a practitioner of naturopathic medicine. Such a doctor takes a wholistic approach to health care -- emphasizing health maintenance through prevention,  and improving health /  treating disease by assisting the body's innate capacity to heal itself. 

nutrition, good dietary practices -- Nutrition is the study of foods and what makes it up -- including the human body’s ingesting, digesting, absorbing, transporting and utilizing food, and the relationship of that food to health and disease.  Here are some good  nutrition motivated diet recommendations -- 1) Eat a variety of foods, and try to maximize eating foods that are in a natural and not heavily processed state; 2) Exercise regularly and in proportion to the amount of food consumed; 3) Eat plenty of grains, vegetables, and fruits. (Note: These provide fiber -- which is important to gastrointestinal health, can lower cholesterol, and protect against some cancers -- essential natural nutrients, and some compounds that can help prevent cancer. Whole grains are to be preferred); 4) Keep intake of fat, saturated fat and cholesterol low (Note: Protein should come more from fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, and low fat cheeses, and less from red meat. Avoid trans fatty acids.) 5)Keep consumption of sugar, salt and sodium low 6) If you drink alcohol beverages, do so in moderation. And, 7) pay attention to labels of ingredients / nutritional information on food packaging!

pain, physical-- an unpleasant or distressing sensory experience due to bodily injury or disorder that ultimately can be traced to stimulation of nerve endings found on the skin or internally. It can be mild and localized, or agony affecting the whole body.  Pain lasting longer than three to six months is referred to as chronic pain.

placebo effect -- An observed effect in an experimental patient group, typically a slight positive improvement in their health when compared to  a control patient group,  that is caused by administering a placebo, defined as a preparation with no medical or pharmacological value.  The effect is believed to be connected to patient expectations. 

prayer, therapeutic effect of -- while accounts of faith healers' successes go back to ancient times, many modern investigators have cited evidence for a positive therapeutic effect on the health of people who pray or are prayed for. Skeptics have dismissed this suggestion or attributed an improvement to a placebo effect. In an attempt to use scientific methods to measure the effect of people praying for the well being of individuals undergoing heart bypass surgery, a three year study involving church groups praying for 1800 patients was conducted. The results, reported in the April 4, 2006 issue of the American Heart Journal, found no statistically significant difference in the survival or complication rates of heart patients who were prayed for versus those who were not.

preventive medicine -- medical care that emphasizes 1) prevention over treatment, and 2) actively working to keep people healthy rather than merely treating their illness, disease, or symptoms of poor health. Tools in this medical approach include health education, nutrition, and public health efforts to provide safe drinking water, a healthy environment, immunizations, etc. A key rationale for preventive medicine is the widespread belief that spending a bit of money on prevention can save many times that amount in avoiding expensive medical treatment costs later.

protein--can be considered at two different levels: 1) in a microscopic sense, proteins are the chief structural component of cells. These large biologically important molecules are built from amino acids. A gene defines the sequence of amino acids in a protein.  2) macro- scopically, in a nutritional sense, protein refers to the total nitrogenous (nitrogen containing) material in a plant or animal identified as essential nutrients.  Meat, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and grains are sources of protein--which vary in their biological availability and nutritional benefits.

publicly funded healthcare--provides medical services financed (to some extent) by government levied tax payments rather than payments to private health care providers or insurance companies. Most affluent countries--and even some not so rich ones like Cuba--have partially or totally publicly funded health care systems.  The United States--the only wealthy country not providing its citizens with universal health care--has programs for its elderly (Medicare) and poor (Medicaid).

radiation--refers to energy transmitted as waves or moving particles, and is most fundamentally distinguished by whether it is ionizing or non-ionizing.  Ionizing radiation can be dangerous to living tissue in that it can cause genetic mutations and kill cells. Sources of it are high energy electromagnetic radiation (like x rays and gamma rays) and radioactive (unstable) material often associated with nuclear energy related technologies.  Lower energy electromagnetic radiation--like visible light, microwaves, or radio waves--is non-ionizing. 

Reiki—originating in Japan, this is a healing technique based on touching that supposedly revitalizes energy fields within the body .  The term Reiki refers to the Japanese pronunciation of the life force energy that the Chinese refer to as Ch’i or Qi.  Some think of Reiki as a spiritual practice, others liken it to faith healing or  “laying on of hands”.  Those western medical practitioners who have not warmed to eastern alternative medicine may blast it as pseudoscientific.

sexually transmitted diseases--also known as venereal diseases, they refer to infections / illnesses that are transmitted through sexual contact.  Examples are AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis, genital herpes, etc.  Safe sex practices--notably use of condoms--can prevent or reduce the probability of such transmission.

waste treatment--steps that are taken to make waste water or sewage safe to discharge back into the environment. It typically involves removing chemical contaminants and dangerous microorganisms. If sewage is involved, end products of this process can be both liquid effluent and sludge--which conceivably can be used as fertilizer. 

water treatment--steps that are taken to make water fit or more desirable for human consumption. This can include filtering out sediment / minerals, purifying to remove chemical contaminants, disinfecting (boiling, chlorinating, etc.) to remove microorganisms, etc. Unsafe water supplies--chiefly resulting from contamination by pathogenic microorganisms--are the cause of diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, and other diseases. Diarrhea alone annually kills nearly two million people worldwide--typically children in developing countries.

weight gain, avoiding -- the bulk of the human diet will be comprised of fats, protein, and carbohydrates and the energy they supply can be measured in calories. Calories consumed per day should be within a certain range to maintain a healthy weight. Since fats contain 9 calories per gram, and both protein and carbohydrates only 4 calories per gram, consuming lots fats leads to relatively lots of calories. This is not a problem in “hunter and gatherer” societies, where lots of physical activity (i.e. exercise) burns lots of calories, but in western sedentary societies it typically is! In general, if one is currently at a healthy weight, if the calories consumed vs. calories burned are roughly equal, one’s weight will be maintained. If calories consumed typically exceed calories burned, weight gain is inevitable. See books with charts of caloric contents of foods and calories burned by different types of physical activity for the details -- which are important!

wholism (or holism) -- a philosophical orientation that promotes consideration of whole systems , rather than exclusive focus on individual, component parts. This consideration is urged in the belief that the essence of the system can not be grasped by merely analyzing its constituent parts. Examples of systems that lend themselves to wholistic study: a human being, the human species, the Earth’s biosphere, planet Earth, the Milky Way Galaxy, the universe. The opposite approach to wholism is reductionism.

Yoga—from Hinduism, a way to suppress physical and mental activity offering a path to spiritual mastery where the goal is liberating the self; more popularly, a discipline and system of exercises and postures for staying physically fit and maintaining health.


Back to Worldview Theme #28