Philosophy of medicine: Problematic and potential

SummaryThe congruence between medicine and philosophy which we find in the Protagoras and the Treatise on Ancient Medicine as well as the tensions symbolized in the dialectic between Eryximachus and Diotima will always be with us. The congruence and the divergence of these ancient disciplines are both important to human well-being. By opposing one another, medicine and philosophy can each balance the other's pretension to universality. By converging, they illumine some of the most important questions of human existence. This essay has examined ways in which medicine and philosophy can converge in our times as philosophy and medicine, philosophy in medicine, and philosophy of medicine. The present moment in our intellectual history is particularly propitious for the nurture of the engagement of medicine and philosophy. The most fruitful form of that interaction may be in the philosophy of medicine, which is a definable discipline with a set of issues specific to it. If the obvious intellectual dangers can be avoided, those who practice medicine, those who think about it, and those who are served by it can gain deeper insight into the nature and the purpose of medicine as well as the nature of the profession and of man himself. Perhaps—positioned as it is, at the intersection of the sciences, the humanities, and technology—medicine can become “… a medium and the focus in which the problems of wisdom and science meet” (Buchanan 1938, p. 194)
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    Qiu Renzong (1982). Philosophy of Medicine in China (1930–1980). Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 3 (1):35-73.
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    Edmund D. Pellegrino (1998). What the Philosophy of Medicine Is. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 19 (4):315-336.

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