Can I be ill and happy?

Philosophia 35 (2):95-110 (2007)
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.
Keywords Happiness  Illness  Well-being  Phenomenology  Naturalism  Disease  Boorse  Fulford  Health within illness  Chronic illness  Medicine
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11406-007-9085-5
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,411
External links
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
R. Cooper (2002). Disease. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 33 (2):263-282.

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Havi Carel (2011). Phenomenology and its Application in Medicine. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 32 (1):33-46.
Eric J. Ettema (2013). Death: 'Nothing' Gives Insight. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 16 (3):575-585.

View all 9 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

121 ( #36,808 of 1,924,732 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

13 ( #61,867 of 1,924,732 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.