The embarrassment of science


A brief survey of vocabularies, encyclopedias, treatises on the history of medicine, histories of medical thought, etc. is enough to realize, with respect to surgical aesthetics, an embarrassment, a modesty, but also a historical difficulty.

  • Aesthetics relating to health is everywhere defined as an underlying purpose, that is, as a secondary purpose with respect to plastic surgery.
  • With difficulty, aesthetics was deliberately recognized as the primary purpose of plastic surgery and it was a long process.

The fact remains that in books the embarrassment still exists, which poses a discreet problem at least of updating the vocabularies and more. Today we should introduce a lemma, in the field of surgery, which is “aesthetic surgery” and likewise admit a lemma, in the field of aesthetics, which is “aesthetics as a field of application of surgery”.

If by plastic surgery we mean

  • The reconstruction of damaged or malformed tissues, organs, parts of the body, especially through the grafting of live tissues, what is favored is, obviously, the clinical use of surgery.
  • It is a job that does not produce any embarrassment, as if to say that medical science justifies itself for its elective purposes which are primarily of an ethical nature (the scientific good against the evil of diseases).

If by plastic we mean the surgery that reconstructs the skin surface mostly for aesthetic purposes, even in this case (think of burns, abrasions, accidents, etc.) there is no embarrassment because there is again a strong ethical-scientific justification.

But if we mean a plastic surgery deliberately used for aesthetic purposes, that is, without clinical justifications (for example, to repair the damage of aging), then the embarrassment, at least in the books, is evident.

Of course there are exceptions which, however, are expressly dedicated works

it-seems-that-the-relative-values-of-aesthetics-do-not-have-the-same-dignity-as-the-absolute-ones-of-the-clinicSuch as those which, even recently, have dealt with the history of cosmetic surgery (Ghigi 2008). In the vocabularies there seems to be a lack of justification, as if the care of beauty were not a value equal to that of the cure of diseases.

  • It seems that the relative values ​​of aesthetics do not have the same dignity as the absolute ones of the clinic.
  • Its less than absolute.
  • Aesthetics are less than the reasons for life, which remains the supreme good even if on a logical level they kill both diseases and aging.

But while diseases shorten the duration of life, aging seems to lengthen it, as if it were a ‘chronicity’, however, with a bad outcome. How many people are there who consider aging to be a chronic disease (ie of time) and who intend to treat it as such through surgery?


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