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Reconstructing the Body

The Science, Spirituality & Culture
David F Williams, PhD, DSc, FREng, FLSW
Author, Scientist & Consultant
David F Williams
Author, Scientist & Consultant
Reconstructing the Body: The Science, Spirituality and Culture by David F Williams

Overview and Background

I do not believe that anyone has written a substantial text that combines detailed scientific information about an area of medicine with an analysis of societal influences on the practice of medicine, including those of spirituality. Furthermore, although many essays have been published where authors have related some aspect of culture (painting, poetry etc.) to particular medical practices, this has rarely been done in a comprehensive manner. It was, therefore, a huge challenge to combine all three sectors, of science, spirituality and culture, in one volume, especially in the context of such a wide-ranging subject of reconstruction of the body.

I initially took on this task while still an academic but with one eye on retirement in the not-so- distant future. The idea originated with the scientific aspects of reconstruction; I was fortunate to have studied all aspects of materials science, and had experience in many different clinical disciplines, and was frustrated by the relative lack of knowledge transfer between these materials and these disciplines. This was leading, for example, to difficulties with one material in one clinical application, but where experience with that material in a quite separate area was ignored, or not even known. I decided that it should not be a treatise on biomaterials, but should cover all relevant engineering factors. Then it became obvious that to be more comprehensive, and more useful, it should cover biological and clinical aspects, basically encompassing the whole area of ‘what actually is my body, and how can it go wrong’, which became Chapter 2. Researching the knowledge transfer themes, I realized that so many factors other than the details of an engineering device, control how that device performs, moving my mind inevitably towards these critical infrastructure issues (i.e., ethics, health economics etc.) and then to the underlying spirituality. I couldn’t help noticing that there was a very fine dividing line between spirituality and culture and so various cultural domains, perhaps through poetry or visual arts, started creeping into my discussions. I realized quite late in the day, that I should include ‘culture’ in the title, along with science and spirituality.

- David F  Williams