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Existential Foundations of Medicine and Psychology Paperback – December 1, 1994
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Nevertheless, I will attempt to provide a synopsis of the main points that Boss contributes in this work.
Science that proceeds by the method of determining causes, which are merely events that preceed one another in "Time," leads necessarily to the hypothesization of a "black box." Of an initial closed off container from which the uninterrupted causal chain can proceed. (This is necessary to avoid an infinite regress of causes). Evidence of this is in Freud's concept of the Unconscious, which began as a conceptual necessity of the "black box" variety, a place from which the deterministic and causal chain of mental processes could proceed, and later was given the status of an actual entity in existence.
Boss borrows heavily, exclusively, from the philosopher Heidegger. For instance, Being is the fundamental openness, or clearing into which phenomenon can reveal themselves, in their significance, in the light of this openness. In contrast to the medical view of man, Boss views the physical body as the bodying forth of one's Da-sein (Being). It is one mode of the existence of Da-sein, however it is a mode characteristic of being human.
However, science has only glimpsed a sliver of "reality." By isolating the human body as an object among other objects present in time, present in space as an object-at-hand, and by subjecting it to the principles of casuality, science has indeed discovered useful principles that have proven to be therapeutic. However, science mistakes this pragmatism for understanding. The fact that something works, for instance a medical cure, does not justify science to claim that therefore human existence is only truthfully viewed in light of this paradigm - namely the pre-scientific, philosophical assumptions inherent in the natural scientific method.
Boss suggests another etiological view of illness, which he distinguishes from the concept of causality in a relatively unclear way. This is through the concept of motivation. Motivation is not an efficient cause of behavior, only a conditioning factor. Motivation acts across the three simultaneous dimensions of Boss' time, past, present and future. Boss would ask the neurotic patient a "Why not" question. Why do they not realize a greater range of possibilities for acting (that are already present as possibilities in Da-sein)?
Boss brings up important points in this book, and elaborates several useful facets of his Daseinsanalytic approach, which has much to contribute. However, a reader versed in the Philosophy of Mind and Metaphysics will realize that he does not solve the problems posed by these fields. Boss stops short of really saying that Daseinsanalysis can cure physical ailments. In fact, Boss states that the natural scientific method of medicine, based on causality is probably the best for solely physical problems.
This begs the questions - if Da-sein is prior to bodyhood, then there should be a Daseinsanalytic means of curing physical ailments. If it is only useful for treating mental aspects of Being, we are once again placing Cartesian categories on existence. Boss would probably say that either Da-sein is not prior to bodyhood or that being prior is not equivalent to being a cause. This only illustrates the difficulty of thinking in a-causal terms.
At the root of his framework, are the concepts of concealment or openness. Unfortunately Boss does not provide much commentary on these concepts, which serve as the bedrock of his philosophy, other than to say that the openness comes out of the fundamental hiddenness and that it is basically mysterious...pre-spatial, pre-human etc..
Overall, Boss gives a fascinating description of his system in this book, highlighting spatiality, temporality, attunement or mood, being in a shared world with others, and man's fundamental freedom or openness. These are Boss' Existentials. Boss also devotes extensive time to critiquing Freud's psychoanalytic framework and Metapsychology. At the end of the book Boss delves into the need for social change. He discusses the negative impact of technology and industrial society, and the dehumanizing impact it has upon man, and the need for well-planned recreation time. This social change is certainly a long time coming, especially in the USA where we have less time off of work than any other industrialized nation.