health noun \ˈhelth also ˈheltth

a state of complete physical, mental, economic, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity [3]

Here's a functional description of health, under the influence of Talcott Parsons:

American society defines health as the state of optimum capacity to perform our daily tasks and the social roles we have assumed or have had assigned to us. Conversely, our society defines illness as a disturbance of the capacity to perform tasks and social obligations. When through some disease or impairment in our physical condition we exhibit devianice in our usual behavior — by stopping work, failing to carry out our expected roles in the family and community, and taking to our beds — the community exempts us from our responsibilities. Although the condition may be accepted as legitimate, the community also requires its validation.[2]

A summary of the above (“being” and “doing”) descriptions of health, and the addition of a third (“having”), by a member of the Radical Statistics Group:

For some, the human condition is defined in terms of a healthy body and mind. Obviously a Platonic emphasis on the constitution of the Republic so as to reach the higher ends of Truth and Beauty is one source. For others a (wo)man is defined by what (s)he does. In essence, this was Aristotle’s view, echoed by Aquinas and, latterly, Marx along with several other early Socialist writers arguing for the ennoblement of creative activity. Finally, the growth of capitalism brought another definition to the fore: that a (wo)man was defined by what (s)he had. The clearest early exponent of this view was probably Locke, but it is now essential for the continuation of capitalism that people hold this view and believe that they are what they own. These different perspectives on individual well-being can be summarised as Being, Doing and Having. [1, p. 43]

1. Carr-Hill, Roy (2012). Measuring well being. Radical Statistics 107:31-48
2. Macgregor, Gordon (1961 Nov). Social determinants of health practices. American Journal of Public Health 51(11):1709-1714
3. adapted from the World Health Organization: Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June, 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948. The Definition has not been amended since 1948.
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