Another Science

There are many blows of life. But perhaps it is better for us when the wars are outright, as terrible as that may sound. I have been reading Ruskin's thoughts on war and art, and have been collecting my own stories of war. There is this story of a general no one particularly liked, at first. But then he met with a woman who had lost three sons in a war. He said to her, "You have given all you had, and I have nothing to give to you, except these tears." Who has heard of a general shedding tears; one general has.
The lukewarm battles are those in which the foe remains masked. We all know about lukewarm battles: one feels as if one is bathing, and suddenly, one is being stewed. The more obvious battles are when we are faced with the cost of our own lives. "He is truly a fool who, trading the certainty/ of an immediate benefit for an unstable hope,/ is always willing to thwart his own desire." And yet so often we are tricked into the fallacy of catering to immediate material benefit - no matter what the cost.
Apart from those who shed their lives for a cause, real or illusory, is the physician, attempting to minimise the loss. I do not believe there are many today who seek to play the physician. I would quote Arnold, who writes of "a kind of philosophical theory widespread among us to the effect that there is no such thing at all as a best self and a right reason having claim to paramount authority". Imagine war without a general! As a result, we have but "an infinite number of ideas and works of our ordinary selves... equal in value".
The physician today is taxed with a high order: to restore authority; to restore our higher selves. And to recall the Hippocratic Oath, we are reminded: "Life is short, and Art long; the crisis fleeting, and decision difficult. The physician must not only be prepared to do what is right himself, but also make the patient, the attendants, and the externals cooperate." In other words, with one's limited knowledge, one must attempt to influence more than one context.
So I think that one cannot act unless one knows something about the nature of change. In Aristotle's Metaphysics we are told that, "Change occurs when the given state becomes something contrary to it ... that which it is not [and] also ... that which is, but is potentially and is not actually". That which is perishable is physics. That which is eternal is "another science".
The physician, and the general, ought to be oriented toward this "other science", or, as Arnold puts it, "sweetness and light" - human perfection. To put this bluntly: what does one want to be remembered for? The times one stepped on another's foot to get an extra earthly buck or the time one gave something, even when they had nothing material to give? We always have something to give. The other science is this category. I'd like to think we are taking stock of such values - so as to avoid being forced to remember such things through loss of life, through the kind of war, or adversity, that literally takes lives.

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