Orthodontics is often considered a philosophy or, rather, a system of different, often disagreeing philosophical principles. Every orthodontist believes in a philosophy of his or her own, (honestly acknowledging its originator), or taking credit for it (for lack of knowledge if not lack of modesty). What do we mean by philosophy? It comes from the Greek word, “F i l o s o j i a ” which means love of knowledge, in both human and divine matters. Philosophy denotes love toward the search for knowledge, not fear, or eulogy of others’ knowledge. In fact, fear and eulogy are terms that best apply to Religion or Ideology (the latter often being a consequence of the former).The Latin word “Religio” indicated fear of the Gods, and the cult associated with it. Religion meant all the means employed by man to honor the Gods and pacify their anger. What about Science? It comes from the Latin word “Scientia”, which had three meanings: knowledge, skills, and wisdom.
When we apply this etymology to orthodontics, we can say that an orthodontist should always be a “philosopher of science”, never a zealot of science or a philosopher of a religion. Let’s ask ourselves if we are capable of pursuing science with love, honesty and enthusiasm, avoiding ideological and religious attitudes. Many years ago, the philosopher Karl Popper noted that humankind seems to have a strong need for regularity and predictability, which compels people to accept dogmas.
While orthodontics is a fascinating science, ideology and complacency are its downfall.
VJO associate editor