PUBLIC TALK: Medicine, the Great Nest, and the Little Business of Being Human
|Medicine, the Great Nest, and the Little Business of Being Human : Public talk with Peter Underwood
‘The whole universe is one single nest,’ from the Upanishads, adopted as a motto by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). In this special talk, Peter Underwood will discuss two recent radio snippets broadcast on Radio National, both concerning medical research.
Peter Underwood is a doctor, academic and writer. An Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Western Australia, he is a Vice President of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (www.mapw.org.au). He lives in Perth and Denmark, WA.
'I was born in Perth, studied science and then medicine at UWA, and after a spell as a doctor in Oz’s far north, travelled slowly through India and Central Asia, a life changing experience.
Eventually reaching London, I completed post-graduate studies but fell under the spell of both EF Schumacher of Small is Beautiful, and, though irredeemably irreligious, some radical groups practicing ‘liberation theology’. As a result, I ended up with my then-wife and tiny child working as volunteers for several years in the remote mountains of North Yemen.
Returning to Perth and UWA, I was a founder of UWA’s Department of General Practice but continued to work and travel in 'wild places’. In my teaching and research in medicine I have tried to emphasise the ‘human’ and the 'social’ against the notion of humans as elevated bits of clockwork. I believe that this impoverished idea of what we are and can be underlies our increasingly narcissistic and commodified world.
I now share my time between writing and broadcasting, some medical teaching and consulting, running a small farm, looking after my grandchildren, and peace and environmental activism. I reckon Santayana’s saying that 'life is not a spectacle nor a feast but a predicament' is baloney: life is all three'.
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