A new iteration in the process of defining reflexology

What is “mathematics”? From the well renomed dictionary Merriam-Webster we find it defined as

the science of numbers and their operations, interrelations, combinations, generalizations, and abstractions and of space configurations and their structure, measurement, transformations, and generalizations

What I want you to notice here is that the description does not explain or even mention any mathematical operations. Neither are numbers mentioned, as most of us relates to mathematics. The definition is short, abstract and probably incomprehensible to the general public. But in a scientific context I’m sure it is a valid and good definition. How things are done in mathematics are to be found other places.

How would you explain mathematics to a child? Probably by examples including counting, and maybe simple examples of addition and subtraction. It is very unlikely that your explanation will be as complementary as the definition. It is just as likely that no other adults will use the exact same explanation as you. But still, all of the explanations can be good for the child that receives it.

Would it be right to say that your explanation is a definition of mathmatics? No, obviously. In a scholar or a scientific context it will fall through. Can you see that such explanation and the formal definition both can be useful, in different situations, for different audience?

So how is this when it comes to reflexology?

I will use the “definition” by RAA as an example.

Reflexology, an integrative health practice, maps a reflection of the body predominately on the feet, hands and outer ears. It uses unique manual techniques to deliver pressure to neural pathways assisting the body to function optimally.

Is this a definition or a discription? I will not do an analysis of it here, but will comment some parts of it. If reflexology is an integrative health practices it is not a medical scientific fact, but the way it is categorised in a given country. If we use mathematics as an analogous example, there is no need to mention any theories about its mechanisms of action. Mentioning neural pathways are unnecessary. As has been argued before: A statement does not become a definition just because someone claims it to be one. I’m sure the statement works well for RAA, but it would actually be more precise if the beginning becomes reformulated. “We describe reflexology as …” or “For us reflexology is …” could work.

What if we go to the extreme and try to define it the way mathematics has been defined in the above example? I give it a try.

Reflexology is the practice of using the body’s reflexological properties to improve the state of the body.

No law, no policy, no bragging, no speculations in mechanisms of action, no specific technique.

Of course it then would remain to describe all the properties and mechanisms of reflexology. And I put my head on the block.

The reflexological properties of a body is what is in action when by stimulating one place of the body it will change the state other places on the body. The places wich reacts are organised as topographic maps of the whole or parts of the body. The stimuli can be healing or harming. The reactions will be according to this.

You might find it strange what is said about harming. If you injury your elbow somehow, then elbow reflexes will become active. This also happens by the reflexological properties of the body. It works both ways. But the therapy reflexology utilizes this mechanism only to heal.