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Aspects of Early Buddhist Sociological Thought

Aspects of Early Buddhist Sociological Thought

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Published by Han Sang Kim

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Published by: Han Sang Kim on Apr 20, 2014
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Although the terms ‘illness’, ‘disease’ and ‘sickness’ are syn-

onymous in everyday usage, they have been defned from a

sociological perspective as conditions related to one another
but implying independent denotations. The presence of one
does not necessarily mean the presence of the other two.15
Illness is a subjective psychological phenomenon while
disease is objective and biological and based on pathology.
Sickness is considered a social phenomenon recognised to
be the condition of the person having an illness. One may
be ill without having a disease; another may have a disease
without feeling ill. Yet another may feel ill being affected by
a disease yet not considered as sick. It is the physician who

diagnoses the complaints and confrms him to be a patient

within society and prescribes medication. However accord-
ing to Talcott Parsons, a functionalist theorist, sickness is
a social as well as a biological phenomenon.16

So the social
involvement and the interaction between the patient and
the healer, the problems of medication, health and sanita-
tion are sociological concerns. The early Buddhist contribu-
tion in this regard although confned to Buddhist monasti-
cism alone, is a very signifcant sociological issue.

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