No examination of the evolutionary trajectory of the human species and the implications for governance would be complete without reference to the evolving capacity of humans to satisfy one of their most important biological needs, namely health. Whereas, as we discuss below, both the definition of health and its relationship to human adaptation may be less direct than is sometimes supposed, it is clear that the two concepts are closely linked. In crude terms, a healthy society is likely to be more resilient, hence more able to adapt, especially in the face of biological challenges. This chapter examines how health has emerged as a critical factor in the challenge–response dynamic during the current period of transition. Health has stood as a valued goal throughout human history, as can be seen in the primitive practices of tribal societies, the urban planning of the Roman Empire, elaborate medical practices in both Roman and Greek civilisations, and in the contemporary complex health systems and celebration of fitness, diet and medicine. In the twentieth century, improved availability of nutritious food, growth in understanding and implementation of public health measures, including better sanitation and rapid developments in medical and biological science, created a cultural transformation in which a more or less healthy (or at least longer) life for many (although not all) in the industrialised world became, as Kickbusch and Payne put it, ‘a demographic fact, a societal goal, and a personal expectation.’1 In the post-1945 period, universal access to at least a basic...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.