From Charity to the Care of the Self: Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici

In Joaquim Braga & Mário Santiago de Carvalho (eds.), Philosophy of Care. New Approaches to Vulnerability, Otherness and Therapy. Advancing Global Bioethics, Vol. 16. Springer. pp. 259-274 (2021)
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Abstract

This chapter deals with Thomas Browne’s most famous work, Religio Medici, and especially with his account of Charity. The first paragraph focuses on Browne’s specific account of the relationship between natural and supernatural. This view is inspired by Bacon, Sebunde, and Montaigne, and is crucial to understand the background of Browne’s view about the virtue of Charity. The second paragraph is about Browne’s specific understanding of Charity, which seems to be a middle stage between the traditional, Scholastic doctrine, and the Kantian idea of moral law, independent from the practical law and the desire of the subject. The third paragraph deals with Religio Medici’s reversal of the traditional “order” of Charity, as well as Browne’s accounts of abnegation and friendship as an effective way for a charity to the self which meets many aspects of Foucault’s ἑπιμέλεια έαuτου. The fourth paragraph is about Browne’s analogical understanding of medicine and morality, as well as his use of the meditatio mortis.

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Simone Guidi
Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche

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