Plain Talk: Love, Significance, and Human Dignity are central to understanding health. These are not just niceties but critical to life.
The Altruistic Health Paradigm is the result of fine-tuning the Perspectival Evidentialism model into a broader application. While the Perspectival Evidentialism model describes a pragmatic process of nursing, the beauty of this model is the adaptability to an altruistic health paradigm. The simplicity of the model allows adaptation at a myriad of levels from societal contexts of health philosophy to individual contexts to ethical contexts. It’s really versatile and flexible for speaking of the paradigm’s three perspectives at any level, for any population, and for any culture.
What I’m working with right now is rudimentary. I have taken the three perspectives (Normative, Existential, and Subjective) of the model and, after much thought, have decided that the best representation of ultimate human purpose and fulfillment is most aptly characterized by the following:
1. Normative (law, ethic) = Love
2. Existential (I, me, self) = Human Dignity
3. Subjective (others, situational, relationships) = Significance
Coherent discussion of each perspective (love, human dignity, and significance) is fundamentally dependent upon the other two perspectives. Indeed, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to discuss each perspective independent of the other two perspectives.
This Altruistic Health Paradigm is, I feel, what truly comprises nursing philosophy, though nursing philosophies usually stop at “mind-body-spirit” and call it holism. I’m not sure why in healthcare we avoid talking about the great ethical and practical foundation of love, yet we miss the bigger picture when we do so. Perhaps it seems so intuitively right that nursing philosophers felt that no more explication was necessary. Certainly, the most similar word used in nursing has been compassion. While ‘compassion’ is related to love, no other word or concept can truly suffice for “love”.
We need to articulate the redemptive aspect of healthcare that we are after, and the ultimate is not healthy systems, but a healthy person with purpose and passion who is infused with dignity, significance, and love. It is human flourishing. I am keenly aware that using “love” may confer some namby-pamby sentiment but that level of meaning is very shallow and illusionary at best. Love in the ultimate sense is anything but that. Love in the ultimate, redemptive sense is that which seeks the best in and for another person and enables them to achieve it not only for their own sake, but for the sake of others.