Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences

Document Type



As a prologue to the paper titled “Understanding the Personalistic Aspects of Jola Ethnomedicine,” the present essay provides a brief anthropologico-philosophical reflection, starting with classic Roman philosopher Seneca and his dictum that “each passing day we die,” and continuing on to the profound existential questions pondered by more contemporary thinkers, including Heidegger and Levinas, about life, death, being, time, totality, and infinity. These agonically deep questions are intimately related to the universal human angst about health, illness, and death and the seeking of a restoration to a functional corporal and mental harmony and well-being through various means and methods, whether based on traditional religious or mythical beliefs and practices or on more modern medical practices. This essay also provides a diachronic philological analysis of the evolution of the word “health” in various languages and its age- old semantic connections to the idea of the “holly” and the “sacred.” These semantic roots lead the author to define health as a “holistic, cosmic, integral, and sacred state of dynamic harmony.”