The Project

 

Archasalutis is a project which has a long standing history

Introduction

The image reproduces Raffaello Sanzio’s fresco entitled – individually and not by the Author – The School of Athens (datable between 1509 and 1511). The original fresco adorns a wall in the Stanza della Segnatura, one of the four “Vatican Rooms” located inside the Apostolic Palaces. The large painting –  strongly desired by Pope Julius II, I would say, with great “temporal foresight” –  certainly represents a “manifesto” of the anthropocentric conception of the Renaissance Human Being.

The work forcefully states that the human reason dominates the concept of reality, undermining an asphyxiating (and according to the “spirit of the time” , indispensable) mystical vision of the Medieval God. Behind the Renaissance symbology are to be found the self-esteem of man on his own intellectual faculties, the rediscovery of the Greek and Roman Classics, the domination of the seas, the growing wealth of the merchant and manufacturing middle classes, the discovery of the possibility of learning by dissecting and observing oneself in the most hidden details for the sake of knowledge, the development of increasingly sophisticated technologies that place the Human Being at the center of the universe.

All this occurs in a line of continuity between classical antiquity and modernity. The general theme of Raphael’s paintings – only readable in relation to the other paintings in the room – is the faculty of the “reasoning” soul to learn the Truth through science and philosophy. The presence of so many thinkers from various eras highlights the value of desire and of the effort to get to the knowledge, common to the whole ancient philosophy and connoted as an anticipation of Christianity.

The superimposed lines of the image highlight the perspective structure of Raffaello’s masterpiece. This symbolically reproduces some fundamental aspects of Renaissance Culture (and the millennial affirmation of a primacy that the Catholic Church intended to represent).

Located on the vanishing point perspective, Plato and Aristotle proceed towards the observer; the first – depicted with the face of Leonardo da Vinci – holds the Timaeus and raises his finger upwards to indicate the Idea of Ideas (the Good, the One). Aristotle in turn extends his right arm keeping it suspended in midair. The gesture indicates the opposite and complementary process to the one indicated by Plato. The process consists of: a (kind of) recomposition of the opposites; the return from the intelligible world (the world of thought, in which the Idea of Good, the Truth was found) to the sensible world (the apparent reality); the tension aimed at applying this idea through this new ethics – “objectively” founded – in order to interpret reality and make it become as close as possible to the idea (to make it “mean” the ideal).

Variously deployed in the picture, you can find: Heraclitus (depicted with the face of Michelangelo), Euclid, Pythagoras and probably a host of Neoplatonists. Starting from there we can also draw a symbolic representation of the seven liberal arts, with grammar, arithmetic and music in the foreground, from the left, geometry and astronomy on the right and, at the top of the staircase, rhetorics and dialectics.

Overall, the systemic vision that can be drawn from it is that Human Beings realize that they possess an Epistemology that projects them towards a form of autonomy. It represents a catalog of the tools of knowledge on which Western Civilization was established.

The scientific thought which has developed in Europe places the Human Being and his intelligence at the center of the world, while this did not take place in Eastern language-thought.

As a matter of fact, scientific thought never appeared in Eastern long-lived civilizations independently, as a native way of studying and mastering the natural world. It is no small matter.

In fact, scientific thought affirms a vision based on determinism, empiricism and physicalist reductionism as a perspective to be privileged in the study of Nature. The epistemology of Medicine in the East renounces all this, favoring a metaphysical and deductive approach to the inductive and abductive one.

Vital phenomena – however – having found in the application of the experimental method an incremental and evolutionary way to be revealed by a knowledge founded on evidence and on instrumental investigation techniques (matured in the second half of the nineteenth century), they partially escape from this research address. Probably and perhaps without a guarantee of an answer, what remains today to be discovered and transferred to clinical practice is the effect of the reassembling of Body and Mind units on the causal processes of Health Conditions. In short. The Holistic Aspects of Human Health, for their explanation and understanding, require an in-depth study of topics which, at present, either remain marginal or are totally disregarded.

The reference must be distinguished into two broad categories of thought which, for extreme brevity, are referred to as the Biomedical Model and the Holistic Model. What matters for either one or the other of these different approaches is addressing authoritatively documented sources of information in order to offer critical tools that go beyond both the current specialized drift of the Biomedical Model and the somehow erratic field of pseudoscientific Holistic doctrines.

Health Promotion is not an ideology, while it is more correct to state that it is an approach characterized as a School of Thought driven by Ethics and Ecology and based on evidence; an orientation that values the doctor-patient relationship, the role and interdependence of citizens and politics, as well as the universality of the right to health.

On the other hand – this is the principle followed in the Archasalutis Project –every medical act, carried out on a generic client, is a political act.

The theories and investigation tools, or the data collected in experimental studies that have been informed by Salutogenesis, are important tools of knowledge and outline processes that can be found in the university teachings of Hygiene, Gerontology, Public Medicine, Global Health, or Epidemiology, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology, Operations Research, or Philosophy of Science, Moral Philosophy, Economics, Information Technology, Technologies and models of organization of production and use of systems and services in the health sector in general and others.

Health Promotion does not foresee unmotivated prejudices, it makes use of the knowledge, the validating technologies and the skills that it acquires from the systems and methods of the Biomedical Model, from the consolidated and growing computerization of data, from the application of the new frontiers of biotechnology, genetics, bioinformatics, artificial intelligence, teaching, health and digital literacy techniques and more.

Furthermore, in selected cases the concept of Health Promotion has permeable boundaries with respect to particular ecological frameworks of Health Conditions, Health Determinants, certain individual attitudes and collective lifestyles, practices and remedies that have demonstrable effects on the condition of Living in Health. Many of these parameters may also belong to traditions and philosophies so-called Metaphysical, or Pseudoscientific.

It is important to distinguish the tools, in order to use the appropriate ones for each eventuality. The fact that this orientation announces a “functionalist” and “pragmatic” criterion in Medicine does not depend on inattention or naivety, but on the acceptance of a sort of compromise with reality. Ex Iuvantibus expresses the idea that a given remedy can belong to the practice of medicine even in a hypothetical and dubious form: “until proven otherwise”. It is difficult to imagine any doctor who has not made use, at least sporadically, of an Ex Iuvantibus reasoning.

The “metaphysical” themes are elaborated – with various titles and authority – by Philosophy, Art, Literature, Music, Traditional Medicines, as well as by some other and so-called Alternative Medicines to the Biomedical Model. Accessing the qualified evidence of these Schools of Thought – first of all to the Wisdom Transmitted by the most consolidated Traditional Medicines – has an essential function in the reconstruction of the Thought of Humanity.

It is not about a “radically skeptical” or, worse, “nihilist” or “animist” drift of those who admit everything and the opposite of everything pro domo sua; it does not draw on the recovery of a Perennial Philosophy or of a mystical and vitalistic vision which presupposes the Dogma of Life as an ethereal and extraneous reference to the bio-psycho-social and environmental actuality of each individual. However, it is recognized that Science does not have the task of affirming Truth, but that of questioning Nature. All this while the Philosophy of Science has the task of formalizing questions free of logical errors that serve to address the plausible ways to face the “secrets” of Life.

Indeed: comparing the conceptions and traditions that have consolidated their respective epistemologies; allowing the information users to build functional parallels to discover the logical-methodological differences of each Doctrine (including the Science implicit in the Biomedical Model) compared to the others, they assume a specific function to understand – with the methods made available by contemporaneity – what ethical and ecological direction is offered to Re-modelling Medicine in the 21st century. Actually, as the quest to understand the dynamics of any healthcare system becomes more intense, there is a growing need to rewrite the usual and customary explanations which are no longer sufficient platforms for policy formation.

 

Overall objective of the Archasalutis project

 

The most recent event that motivated the launch of the www.archasalutis.it website and the related social channels was the printed publication of the first of a series of essays.

Each volume of the series (published or unpublished, at the current date) includes topics that outline a sequence that the Author has considered convergent towards the assigned title.

The fact that they have all been written by myself shouldn’t worry too much. In fact, these are documents in which the sources I used are reported. What matters is that, as a whole, they represent the fruit of a unitary study aimed at delineating tools of knowledge that participate in the construction of a complex model I have called the Tao of Living in Health.

The topic has assumed such proportions that a unitary publication in paper form is highly improbable. However, having considered the format and way of using it as a priority, it was decided to tackle the outlined issues by grouping them into thematic “macro regions” and to progressively launch them for publication.

The first of these instances materialized in 2021, by the Il Filo di Arianna Publishing House. Riccò del Golfo (SP); Italy.

The task of creating an indexed and thematic (not encyclopedic) liber libris is not new, but the current scenario had never happened before and affects the ambitions and feasibility of the Archasalutis project.

It is known that the means of communication changes the interpretative paradigm of meanings. Since data recording and communication became info-telematic, digitized data published on the Web have multiplied dramatically. This inexhaustible source of knowledge have become the raw material for processing increasingly granular and dynamic information and for designing new research horizons.

These, within the configuration of Archasalutis, follow explicit ethical and ecological horizons.

Much of the research which was done before the digital revolution (biomedical, historical, psychological, epidemiological and other; especially the one matured in clinical and public medicine disciplines) is losing relevance, mainly due to its non-reproducibility. However, it is sometimes essential in order to reconstruct epistemologies and resulting processes associated with the evolution of knowledge and of validating technologies.

All the presented endowments rely on the enormous availability of printed and online publications of works of all kinds that can be tracked.

Bibliographic research was once made through the help of specialized libraries and librarians, which made them indispensable, but only a few universities or public bodies and foundations could afford them.

Today, a high proportion of the most important themes deriving from the work of accredited authors in the field of human health are codified and (deservedly) made accessible free of charge on the Web in a very fast way by generalist and/or thematic platforms and search engines.

Books that are not found in bookstores can be obtained via e-commerce and many otherwise unavailable texts are, at least, cited in other texts and/or commentaries.

Yet this wealth has become so immense; science, technology, narratives, reports and opinions are so numerous and subtly distinguishable, that various kinds of aids are indispensable for rigorously extracting information associated with a value in use that justifies taking charge.

In this context, the task of a model is to build a dynamic map of the reality it represents. That said, one of the qualifying aspects that we want to pursue with Archasalutis is precisely that of drawing on the “wisdom received” from librarians and libraries, as well as from researchers, scholars, teachers, students and ordinary people who intend to know more about the arguments by drawing on specialized literature.

It is known that the map is not the territory. Each model, of course, is subject to the principle of simplicity and to the requirements of an economically sustainable offer: It is always designed for one goal. Having acknowledged that both the prefigured goal and the systems and methods for planning their pursuit are always arbitrary, the intention expressed here is to launch a project and a study that are not self-referential, but open to contributions and external exchanges.

With this term we intend to evoke, by analogy, an Autopoietic System (as described by contemporary research of Cognitive Sciences) subject to continuous transformations, adapted to the environment, structured to adhere to the complex and dynamic nature of bio-psycho-social phenomena and environmental and – with regard to this reference system and the conditions dictated by the context – agile and changeable, reactive to the stresses deriving from implicit and explicit dynamics that influence the model’s ability to adhere to that reality.

The name Archasalutis evokes the topic of Health and that of biodiversity that must be saved.

In this vast context, a very large multitude of publications in peer reviewed scientific journals, documents and official declarations, complete works by ancient and contemporary authors and qualified commentaries can be cataloged and ordered, in a traceable way. All this, drawing on an intellectual heritage capable of ranging in different directions.

These include the analytical disciplines offered by contemporary medicine. In the attached table there is a non-exhaustive list of macro-groups. It is proposed as an attempt at declining human knowledge on Health Promotion.

Evidently this is a list based on arbitrary, possibly amendable rules, whose current dignity is designated by the fact that the macro-categories are identified in a transparent way and supported by some credible form of “proof of effectiveness”.

In addition, the list presents topics that have already been extracted from the cloud of documents that constitute the reference literature, and it anticipates a mass of information material that is considered sufficient to make a first population of the Archasalutis database.

I reiterate that the ontologies that will be developed in relation to the Archasalutis project intend to satisfy the demand for knowledge tools necessary to bring out the information that benefits the goal of Health Promotion.

Furthermore, I anticipate that the intellectual heritage includes, in the case studies, arguments recorded in literature and other media aimed at making a comparison between the so-called Western and Eastern points of view, between the metaphysical and physical, pseudo-scientific and scientific points of view.

Other categories can develop trees of hierarchical categories or of transversal interactions between parameters; they can draw on all forms of art, literature, journalism, scientific dissemination, poetry, cinema, videos, podcasts and more.

With these assumptions, the Archasalutis project intends to develop in various convenient and effective directions to transform data into personalized information.

In a nutshell, ontologies are built that will feed genetic algorithms operating on relational databases. To access these, multimedia user interfaces will be implemented, and that will offer the possibility of querying through different languages (graphics, by keywords, audio, video) and on various levels of search indexing.

All that with the aim to satisfy multiple search profiles simply programmable by end users.

 

Legend:

 

Weak Thought (WeTh); Traditional Teachings (TraT) (such as Traditional Chinese Medicine); Weird Doctrine (WeDo); Scientific Approach (ScAp); Methodic Thought (METh) (such as the one in  Systematic Philosophy)

 

Doctrine / Discipline / Practice

Category

Acupuncture, moxibustion (and related)

(TraT)

Anthropology

(METh)

Capabilities Approach

(METh)

Arts that evoke the themes of the Tao of Living in Health

(METh)

Activities, Training, Body Rehabilitation

(ScAp); (METh)

Biometrics and Biostatistics

(ScAp)

Knowledge and diagnostic technologies

(ScAp)

Knowledge and Technologies for Health Promotion (Salutogenesis)

(ScAp) (METh)

Knowledge and Technologies for Health Protection

(ScAp);(METh)

Knowledge and Surgical Therapeutic Technologies

(ScAp);(METh)

Knowledge and Medical Therapeutic Technologies

(ScAp);(METh)

Deontology of the Health Professions

(METh); (WeDo)

Determinants of Health

(ScAp); (METh)

Holistic and/or “Energy” diets

(TraT); (WeDo)

Reductionist “physicalist” diets

(ScAp)

Healthy psycho-physical disciplines (for example, Yoga, Tai chi Chuan, Contemporary Dance, etc.); Subcategories

(TraT); (ScAp); (METh)

Healthy psycho-physical disciplines; General Principles (including: concepts of Vital Energy in the various traditional declinations; Theory of Hippocratic / Galenic Moods; Acupuncture Meridians; Chakras; Subtle Body; Doctrine and Ethical and Religious Motivations for the practice)

(TraT); (WeDo)

E-health

(ScAp); (METh)

E-health; Sub-categories of healthcare delivery, research, validation and governance; Case studies, best practices

(ScAp); (METh)

Epidemiology

(ScAp); (METh)

Demands of Life

(ScAp); (METh)

Human beings as social animals. General principles and theories)

(ScAp); (METh)

Human beings as social animals; Sub-categories (virtuous/pernicious examples of Tribalism and pack dynamics; Groupthink)

(ScAp); (METh)

Ethics

(METh)

Philosophy of Science

(METh)

Genetics

(ScAp); (METh)

Literature that evokes themes of the Tao of Living in Health

(METh)

Diseases caused by degeneration of social relations and group dynamics dictated by bad Tribalism

(METh)

Environmental pollution diseases

(ScAp); (METh)

Professional diseases

(ScAp); (METh)

Ayurvedic Medicine

(TraT);

Basic and translational medicine

(ScAp); (METh)

Scientific investigation methods substituting models using experimental animals

(ScAp); (METh)

Microbiology

(ScAp); (METh)

Clinical Microbiology and Sub-categories (Distinguished by epidemiology, pathogens, microbiome, epidemic spread, etc.)

(ScAp); (METh)

Applied statistical-mathematical modeling (for example, to Epidemiology, Physiology, Human Medical and Surgical General and Special Pathology)

(ScAp); (METh)

Health Literacy Models and Case Studies

(ScAp); (METh)

Health Education Models and Case Studies

(ScAp); (METh)

Models of Organization and Management of Systems for the provision of health care services

(ScAp); (METh)

Biomedical model; Mechanistic, reductionist physicalist epistemology, Evolution of the biomedical model

(ScAp); (METh)

Biomedical model; Sub-categories (for example: Epidemiology, Physiology, General and Special Human Medical and Surgical Pathology; Value Approach of Human Health; Medical-Industrial Complex)

(ScAp); (METh)

Holistic Model; Sub-categories (for example: Vitalistic, Energetic, Metaphysical, Mystical, Pseudoscientific); Epistemology; Traditions that elaborate the Holistic Model

(WeTh); (TraT); (WeDo);

Holistic and/or “Energy” therapies (including: “Psychosomatic Medicine”; Osteopathy; Acupressure and similar; Macrobiotics, Phytotherapy)

(WeTh); (TraT); (WeDo); (ScAp); (METh)

 

Musicobiology

(ScAp); (METh)

Music therapy

(ScAp); (METh)

Naturopathy

(WeTh); (TraT); (WeDo)

Network Medicine

(ScAp); (METh)

Homeopathy

(WeTh); (WeDo)

Omiche, Epigenetics

(ScAp); (METh)

Governance bodies of Global Health; declarations, guidelines, updates

(ScAp); (METh)

 

Public Health Organization; Case studies, best practices

(ScAp); (METh)

Reference portals and platforms for transparent and authoritative information on research and Public Health

(ScAp); (METh)

Potentiality, Impairment, Enhancement, Rehabilitation of Cognitive Abilities and Intersubjectivity

(ScAp)

Accident Prevention

(ScAp)

Psychiatry

(ScAp); (METh)

Clinical psychology

(WeDo); (ScAp); (METh)

Doctor-patient relationship (Therapeutic relationship)

(ScAp); (METh)

Cognitive Sciences; Sub-categories: (Psychology, Somatic Markers, Philosophy of the Mind, Heuristics, Evolutionary Medicine, Evolutionary Sociology, Neuroscience)

(ScAp); (METh)

Cognitive Sciences; General principles

(ScAp); (METh)

Sociology general principles

(ScAp); (METh)

Sociology; Sub-categories: (Interdependence, Tribalism, Cooperation and Defection Strategies)

(ScAp); (METh)

History of Medicine

(ScAp); (METh)

History and Political Philosophy

(ScAp); (METh)

Strategies for dealing with the fear of dying

(TraT); WeDo); (METh)

Information Theory and its applications, including the applications of the so-called Artificial Intelligence applied to Health

(ScAp); (METh)

For example, you can query the system by validating on the screen: Demands of Life; Health Determinants; Strategies for dealing with the fear of dying; Doctor-patient relationship; Therapeutic relationship; Psychology; Philosophy of the mind; Cognitive Sciences, Ethics; History of Medicine; Sociology; Epistemology; Human beings as social animals; Literature that evokes the themes of the Tao of Living in Health.

The results that satisfy each and/or all of the key topics required will appear in a list showing how to access the original documents.

On the basis of a hypothetical research that wants to find a single source of the key arguments declined in some sub-categories, I used the contents of the essay “Practicing Impermanence to Conquer Freedom. The search for an ethical and ecological approach to the fear of dying”.

Obviously the titles of the coded key topics fully correspond to the terminology used in the essay I have written.

A situation that is difficult to repeat. This obstacle will be one of the goals to be overcome when developing the databases, algorithms and software that will power the system.

Furthermore, it will be possible to register and update at will one’s own research profile containing the Macro-themes and/or their Subcategories of interest. This is a particularly useful tool for those wishing to keep their information updated in an integrated context evocative of Network Medicine.

By this we mean that systemic design is able to use research methods that are more informative than is currently possible by accessing databases structured according to a strictly disciplinary point of view, and/or capable of satisfying advanced searches on non-keywords traceable (e.g. also graphically) to the tree of the macrothemes to which they belong. This goal, of course, is the goal to be achieved once the execution of the Archasalutis Project is completed and validated, both by the scientific community and by all interested parties.

  • In conclusion of this brief introduction, the image shows the graphic representation of the “Meikirch Model of Health” consisting of five components that are related to each other by at least ten complex interfaces (double arrows): Health occurs when individuals use their biologically given and personally acquired potentials to manage the demands of life in a way that promotes individual and collective well-being. This process continues throughout life. Health is constituted by all three dimensions – individual, social, and environmental – addressing the Determinants of Health and actually tackling their target.

The graph is reproduced from: Johannes Bircher, Shyama Kuruvilla. Defining health by addressing individual, social, and environmental determinants: New opportunities for health care and public health, Journal of Public Health Policy 35(3), 2014 June.