David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 11 (1) (1990)
I argue that clinical medicine can best be understood not as a purified science but as a hermeneutical enterprise: that is, as involved with the interpretation of texts. The literary critic reading a novel, the judge asked to apply a law, must arrive at a coherent reading of their respective texts. Similarly, the physician interprets the text of the ill person: clinical signs and symptoms are read to ferret out their meaning, the underlying disease. However, I suggest that the hermeneutics of medicine is rendered uniquely complex by its wide variety of textual forms. I discuss four in turn: the experiential text of illness as lived out by the patient; the narrative text constituted during history-taking; the physical text of the patient's body as objectively examined; the instrumental text constructed by diagnostic technologies. I further suggest that certain flaws in modern medicine arise from its refusal of a hermeneutic self-understanding. In seeking to escape all interpretive subjectivity, medicine has threatened to expunge its primary subject — the living, experiencing patient.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Havi Carel (2009). A Reply to 'Towards an Understanding of Nursing as a Response to Human Vulnerability' by Derek Sellman: Vulnerability and Illness. Nursing Philosophy 10 (3):214-219.
Mark H. Waymack (2009). Yearning for Certainty and the Critique of Medicine as “Science”. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 30 (3):215-229.
Similar books and articles
David C. Thomasma (1994). Clinical Ethics as Medical Hermeneutics. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 15 (2).
Carol A. Bowman (1992). Meta-Diagnosis: Towards a Hermeneutical Perspective in Medicine with an Emphasis on Alcoholism. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 13 (3).
James S. Terry (1987). Medicine as Interpretation: The Uses of Literary Metaphors and Methods. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 12 (3):205-217.
M. Wayne Cooper (1994). Is Medicine Hermeneutics All the Way Down? Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 15 (2).
Kathryn Montgomery (2006). How Doctors Think: Clinical Judgment and the Practice of Medicine. Oxford University Press.
F. Svenaeus (2000). Hermeneutics of Clinical Practice: The Question of Textuality. [REVIEW] Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 21 (2):171-189.
Richard J. Baron (1990). Medical Hermeneutics: Where is the “Text” We Are Interpreting? Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 11 (1).
Larry R. Churchill (1990). Hermeneutics in Science and Medicine: A Thesis Understated. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 11 (2).
Wim Dekkers (1998). Hermeneutics and Experiences of the Body. The Case of Low Back Pain. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 19 (3):277-293.
Stephen L. Daniel (1986). The Patient as Text: A Model of Clinical Hermeneutics. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 7 (2).
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads39 ( #47,415 of 1,101,833 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #306,516 of 1,101,833 )
How can I increase my downloads?