On the Concept and Value of Health
Following a suggestion of S. Polgar health has been discussed as the “lack of illness” and “élan vital”. The choice between these two conceptions is said to belong to biology, medicine and sociology. It is feasible that these sciences will be able some day to find out if there is a non-specific and sufficiently general defence mechanism against various diseases, and if so, the concept of “élan vital” will have been shown to be more appropriate, if not, the concept of “lack of illness” will have to be given priority.
Three main methods of health assessment have been discussed: health conceived as a certain ideal, as a state of fulfilment of needs and as an object of preferences. A particular merit of the last concept is that it suggests a promising survey of views on one of the most important issues of medical sociology.