Integrated TRADITIONAL Medicines
Peace Education for Better Health
Towards an integrated world health system, on the physical, mental and spiritual levels




Julian Piras - Germany

Julian Piras graduated from the University of Saarbrücken (Germany) with a M.A. in Philosophy. He spent the academic year 2000-2001 as an exchange student at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa. Before university, he graduated from Blair-High School, Pasadena (California) and from the bilingual French-German Gymnasium in Saarbrücken. Parallely to university, he worked in a German telecommunications-company, did an internship at the International Federation of Organic Farming (IFOAM) and volunteered at the International Training Program for Conflict Management (ITPCM) of the Scuola Sant’Anna, Pisa.

The Philosophical Basis of Therapeutic Action. Five Paradigms of Sanity in Aldous Huxley’s Thinking.

In the different traditions, therapy and cure are undertaken on the basis of different categorisations of sanity and disease. These in turn are founded on different views of human nature and of its relation to the environment. Basing on the work of Aldous Leonard Huxley (1894-1963), this presentation wants to discuss five paradigms of sanity. Each of these consist (a) in a different understandings of human nature that lead to (b) different ideals of sanity; these in turn lead to (c) different programs of therapeutic action. The five paradigms are:

1) The Biological Paradigm
2) The Socio-Political Paradigm
3) The Paradigm of Aesthetics and Emotions
4) The Paradigm of Absurdity (or Complexity)
5) The Spiritual Paradigm

Aldous Huxley was the middle son of an illustrious academic family: his elder brother, Sir Julian Huxley, was an important biologist and the first president of UNESCO; his younger step brother, Andrew Fielding Huxley, was awarded the 1963 Nobel price in Physiology/Medicine.
The enormous range of topics Aldous Huxley addressed in the 50 volumes of his production has often impressed: they span from natural science and alternative medicine to art and literature, politics, sociology, environmental issues and spirituality. As a kind of “pontifex minimus” (one of his self-definitions), Huxley spent his life trying to build bridges and to encourage communication (or “cross fertilization”, as he put it) between different disciplines and cultures. In Huxley’s opinion, the typically modern fragmentation of views, a negative by-product of specialisation, made it utterly impossible to deal with any problem (in medicine, education, psychology, politics, economics) in a realistic way. Thus, his oeuvre can be seen as a three step program:

(a) It is a quest for understanding: Huxley searches for a paradigm that would restore a kind of unity to the different outlooks on human problems and their relation to non-human nature.

(b) It is a quest for values: on the basis of an understanding of what is, Huxley wants to formulate a realistic goal of what could be, a holistic model of sanity integrating the physiological, the socio-political, the economical, the emotional, the environmental and the spiritual dimensions.

(c) It is a quest for the right kind of action: as Huxley was very aware of the gap between the formulation of high flying goals and their realisation, the third key-concern in his program was the question about the means whereby one can effectively pass from a given situation to the realisation of an ideal.

In his attempt to find a satisfying solution to these three questions, Huxley, from 1908 to 1935 worked himself through 4 different paradigms: The Biological Paradigm (Darwin, T.H. Huxley), The Socio-Political Paradigm (Marx, Freud, Henry Ford, Alfred Mond), The Paradigm of Aesthetics and Emotions (D.H. Lawrence), The Paradigm of Absurdity (Kierkegard, Nietzsche)

Finally, around 1935, Huxley found the solution that would become the main topic of his writings until his death in 1963. This fifth paradigm can be called his Paradigm of Spirituality; in certain respects, it constitutes a synthesis of the former four. As all these 5 paradigms underlie many current debates and the necessary holistic, intercultural and interdisciplinary approach is still conspicuously absent from most fields, Huxley’s reflections haven’t lost their relevance.


  • Huxley, Aldous, Ends and Means, London 1937

  • Science, Liberty and Peace, New York 1946

  • Huxley, Aldous, The Perennial Philosophy, London 1946

  • Huxley, Aldous, Island, London 1962

  • Huxley, Aldous, The Human Situation, London 1977

  • Archera Huxley, Laura, You Are Not the Target, New York 1963

  • Bedford, Sybille, Aldous Huxley. A Biography (2 Bd.), London 1974

  • Holmes, Charles Mason, Aldous Huxley and the Way to Reality, Westport 1978

  • Kretschmer, Ulrike, Der Mensch – Affe oder gottähnliches Wesen? Philosophisch-anthropologische Vorstellungen im Werk Aldous Huxleys, in: Human Potentialities, Bernfried Nugel und Lothar Fietz (Hg.), Bd. 1, Münster 1998

  • Krishnan, Bharati, Aspects of Structure, Technique and Quest, in Aldous Huxley’s Major Novels, Studia Anglistica Upsaliensia, Vol. 33, Uppsala 1977

  • Kunz, Claus, Das Denken Aldous Huxleys. Anthropologische Erfahrung und Metaphysik, Diss., Frankfurt a.M. 1980

  • Robb, David, Brahmins from Abroad: English Expatriates and Spiritual Consciousness in Modern America, in: Jerome Meckier (Ed.): Critical Essays on Aldous Huxley, New York 1996, p. 162-178