Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 19 (3):351-359 (2016)

This article is about caregivers being attentive to patients in healthcare. From earlier work on the understanding of the other, we know that it is impossible to completely understand the experiences of others. By the sharing of subjectivity—intersubjectivity—we may try to ‘grasp’ the other’s point of view. However, we can never assume that the same experience produces the same experience. Now, if it is principally impossible to understand the experience of one another, and if paying attention always implies an understanding of what to pay attention to, then how is it possible to be attentive to the experiences of those who are entirely at the mercy of our care? How can caregivers perceive the impossibility of understanding the experiences of patients as an appeal to be attentive to their experiences? This is discussed in this article. It departs from the authors being confronted with inexplicabilities in the empirical study of attentiveness in healthcare. It presents two examples and discusses the meaning of these emergent properties. This leads to a discussion of the existent literature on the indefiniteness and openness of attentiveness. It becomes clear why, although we can understand and predict much of it, attentiveness will always be characterized by a certain uncontrollability as well.
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DOI 10.1007/s11019-015-9669-y
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Phenomenology of Perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1962 - Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: The Humanities Press.
Truth and Method.H. G. Gadamer - 1975 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 36 (4):487-490.
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The Sovereignty of Good.Iris Murdoch - 1970 - New York: Schocken Books.

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