In this paper I explore the tacit underlying sense of bodily certainty that characterizes normal everyday embodied experience. I then propose illness as one instance in which this certainty breaks down and is replaced by bodily doubt. I characterize bodily doubt as radically modifying our experience in three ways: loss of continuity, loss of transparency, and loss of faith in one's body. I then discuss the philosophical insights that arise from the experience of bodily doubt. The paper uses a Humean (...) framework with regards to bodily certainty, treating it as a taken for granted tacit aspect of normal experience. I argue that although bodily certainty is not rationally justifiable, we are nonetheless unable to reject it. Bodily certainty is thus revealed to be part of our brute animal nature. I conclude by suggesting that the study of pathology is a philosophical method useful for illuminating tacit aspects of experience. (shrink)
In this article, I propose that illness is philosophically revealing and can be used to explore human experience. I suggest that illness is a limit case of embodied experience. By pushing embodied experience to its limit, illness sheds light on normal experience, revealing its ordinary and thus overlooked structure. Illness produces a distancing effect, which allows us to observe normal human behavior and cognition via their pathological counterpart. I suggest that these characteristics warrant illness a philosophical role that has not (...) been articulated. Illness can be used as a philosophical tool for the study of normally tacit aspects of human existence. I argue that illness itself can be integral to philosophical method, insofar as it facilitates a distancing from everyday practices. This method relies on pathological or limit cases to illuminate normally overlooked aspects of human perception and action. I offer Merleau-Ponty’s analysis of the case of Schneider as an example of this method. (shrink)
Patient support tools have drawn on a variety of disciplines, including psychotherapy, social psychology, and social care. One discipline that has not so far been used to support patients is philosophy. This paper proposes that a particular philosophical approach, phenomenology, could prove useful for patients, giving them tools to reflect on and expand their understanding of their illness. I present a framework for a resource that could help patients to philosophically examine their illness, its impact on their life, and its (...) meaning. I explain the need for such a resource, provide philosophical grounding for it, and outline the epistemic and existential gains philosophy offers. Illness often begins as an intrusion on one’s life but with time becomes a way of being. I argue that this transition impacts on core human features such as the experience of space and time, human abilities, and adaptability. It therefore requires philosophical analysis and response. The paper uses ideas from Husserl and Merleau-Ponty to present such a response in the form of a phenomenological toolkit for patients. The toolkit includes viewing illness as a form of phenomenological reduction, thematizing illness, and examining illness as altering the ill person’s being in the world. I suggest that this toolkit could be offered to patients as a workshop, using phenomenological concepts, texts, and film clips to reflect on illness. I conclude by arguing that examining illness as a limit case of embodied existence deepens our understanding of phenomenology. (shrink)
Phenomenology is a useful methodology for describing and ordering experience. As such, phenomenology can be specifically applied to the first person experience of illness in order to illuminate this experience and enable health care providers to enhance their understanding of it. However, this approach has been underutilized in the philosophy of medicine as well as in medical training and practice. This paper demonstrates the usefulness of phenomenology to clinical medicine. In order to describe the experience of illness, we need a (...) phenomenological approach that gives the body a central role and acknowledges the primacy of perception. I present such a phenomenological method and show how it could usefully illuminate the experience of illness through a set of concepts taken from Merleau-Ponty. His distinction between the biological body and the body as lived, analysis of the habitual body, and the notions of motor intentionality and intentional arc are used to capture the experience of illness. I then discuss the applications this approach could have in medicine. These include narrowing the gap between objective assessments of well-being in illness and subjective experiences which are varied and diverse; developing a more attuned dialogue between physicians and patients based on a thick understanding of illness; developing research methods that are informed by phenomenology and thus go beyond existing qualitative methods; and providing medical staff with a concrete understanding of the impact of illness on the life-world of patients. (shrink)
New Takes in Film-Philosophy offers a space for the advancement of the film-philosophy debate by some of its major figures. Fifteen leading academics from Philosophy and Film Studies develop new approaches to film-philosophy, broaden theoretical analyses of the topic and map out problems and possibilities for its future. The collection examines theoretical issues about the relationship between film and philosophy; looks at the relationships film-philosophy has to other media such as photography and literature; and applies theoretical approaches to particular films (...) and directors. Written in a clear style that assumes no previous knowledge of any particular philosopher, this collection will appeal to advanced students and scholars in philosophy, film studies, cultural studies, media studies and the arts. _. (shrink)
More people desperately require an organ than become donors themselves. When discussing organ donation, people mainly consider the question whether they want to donate, whereas empirically they are more likely to be on the receiving end. So it is rational for each of us to join the organ donor register and to agree to donate our relative’s organs, if we are ever in that situation.
Can one be ill and happy? I use a phenomenological approach to provide an answer to this question, using Merleau-Ponty’s distinction between the biological and the lived body. I begin by discussing the rift between the biological body and the ill person’s lived experience, which occurs in illness. The transparent and taken for granted biological body is problematised by illness, which exposes it as different from the lived experience of this body. I argue that because of this rift, the experience (...) of illness cannot be captured within a naturalistic view and propose to supplant this view with a phenomenological approach. The latter approach accounts for changes in the ill person’s relationship to her social and physical world. These changes, I argue, cannot be captured by a naturalistic perspective. I then propose the notion of health within illness as a useful concept for capturing the experience of well-being reported by some ill people. I present empirical evidence for this phenomenon and assess its philosophical significance. Finally, I suggest that adaptability and creativity are two common positive responses to illness, demonstrating that health within illness is possible. The three elements combined – the transformed body, health within illness and adaptability and creativity – serve as the basis for a positive answer to the question posed above. (shrink)
The confusion surrounding Heidegger's account of death in Being and Time has led to severe criticisms, some of which dismiss his analysis as incoherent and obtuse. I argue that Heidegger's critics err by equating Heidegger's concept of death with our ordinary concept. As I show, Heidegger's concept of death is not the same as the ordinary meaning of the term, namely, the event that ends life. But nor does this concept merely denote the finitude of Dasein's possibilities or the groundlessness (...) of existence, as William Blattner and Hubert Dreyfus have suggested. Rather, I argue, the concept of death has to be understood both as temporal finitude and as finitude of possibility. I show how this reading addresses the criticisms directed at Heidegger's death analysis as well as solving textual problems generated by more limited interpretations of the concept. (shrink)