Phenomenology of Illness
22 June 2018
By Havi Carel. Published by OUP
The experience of illness is a universal and substantial part of human existence. Like death, illness raises important philosophical issues. But unlike death, illness, and in particular the experience of being ill, has received little philosophical attention. This may be because illness is often understood as a physiological process that falls within the domain of medical science, and is thus outside the purview of philosophy. In Phenomenology of Illness Havi Carel argues that the experience of illness has been wrongly neglected by philosophers and proposes to fill the lacuna. Phenomenology of Illness provides a distinctively philosophical account of illness. Using phenomenology, the philosophical method for first-person investigation, Carel explores how illness modifies the ill person's body, values, and world. The aim of Phenomenology of Illness is twofold: to contribute to the understanding of illness through the use of philosophy and to demonstrate the importance of illness for philosophy. Contra the philosophical tendency to resist thinking about illness, Carel proposes that illness is a philosophical tool. Through its pathologising effect, illness distances the ill person from taken for granted routines and habits and reveals aspects of human existence that normally go unnoticed. Phenomenology of Illness develops a phenomenological framework for illness and a systematic understanding of illness as a philosophical tool.