The Value of Philosophy and Medicine

in Blog
February 18th, 2016


Recently Dr. David Silbersweig wrote to the Washington Post to provide an alternative view on the relationship between Philosophy and professions– and especially medicine.

While it seemed impractical […], [Philosophy] has informed and provided a methodology for everything I have done since. If you can get through a one-sentence paragraph of Kant, holding all of its ideas and clauses in juxtaposition in your mind, you can think through most anything. If you can extract, and abstract, underlying assumptions or superordinate principles, or reason through to the implications of arguments, you can identify and address issues in a myriad of fields.

By combining clinical insights with scholarship, and synthesizing strengths of medical and non-medical education, I have had the privilege of being able to contribute to an evolving field. I also have been able to participate in the development of educational programs at Cornell and Harvard, across multiple schools and levels of training so that the next generation of leaders might develop without traditional academic silos or boundaries, while preserving important aspects of department-based inquiry, identity and advancement.

A higher education that unites liberal arts and STEM fields is what provides these crucial abilities and enables new career trajectories.

If we are to remain at the forefront of knowledge creation in this changing, globalizing world, then our students must be the next generation of explorers. We have a sacred obligation as educators, role models and mentors to ensure a system that promotes the attributes conducive to their success. A broad yet rigorous education will best equip them to go forth into uncharted territory to address issues of import to humanity in a creative fashion.

Read more about Dr. Silbersweig’s journey, and the value of interdisciplinary study at The Washington Post.