Illness and two meanings of phenomenology

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When approaching medicine, phenomenology has at least two meanings which need to be distinguished in order to achieve results which might become relevant for medical practice. Up to now, these two meanings have been overlapped by the scholarly literature. Therefore, the purpose of the article is to differentiate between these two meanings. The first one was initiated by Edmund Husserl and takes phenomenology as transcendental, i.e. as a transcendental rigorous science based on the unraveling of transcendental subjectivity/intersubjectivity. The second takes it more as a narrative enterprise, i.e. as a description of personal subjective experience, and, thus, it is closer to other approaches to disease to be found both in philosophy and outside it. Nevertheless, both provide advantages and disadvantages when it comes to approaching illness. One meaning cannot supersede the other and, therefore, one form of phenomenology cannot impose itself as the phenomenology of medicine. Yet, it is important to clarify the consequences of applying each of the two understandings of phenomenology to medicine in the context of its current development. The question of our present inquiry concerns not merely the disentanglement of the status of what today’s scholarly literature calls phenomenology of medicine in relation to both of the meanings of phenomenology, but also the limits of applying phenomenology to the field of medicine.
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Archival date: 2021-03-23
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