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Professor Havi Carel

Professor Havi Carel

Professor Havi Carel
PhD (Essex), MA (Tel-Aviv), BA (Tel-Aviv)

Professor of Philosophy

Area of research

Philosophy of medicine, phenomenology, film and philosophy, death

Office 0.13
Cotham House,
Cotham Hill, Bristol BS6 6JL
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 954 6690



I am Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bristol, where I also teach medical students. My research examines the experience of illness and of receiving healthcare. I was recently awarded a Senior Investigator Award by the Wellcome Trust, for a five year project entitled ‘Life of Breath’ (with Prof Jane Macnaughton, Durham University).  ( 

I recently completed a monograph for Oxford University Press, provisionally entitled Phenomenology of Illness, which will be published in late 2015. I previously published on the embodied experience of illness, wellbeing within illness and patient-clinician communication in the Lancet, BMJ, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, Medicine, Healthcare and Philosophy, and in edited collections. 

I am the author of Illness (2008, 2013), shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize, and of Life and Death in Freud and Heidegger (2006). I am the co-editor of Health, Illness and Disease (2012) (edited with Rachel Cooper) and of What Philosophy Is (2004) (edited with David Gamez). 

I also use film in teaching and have co-edited a volume entitled New Takes in Film-Philosophy (2010) (with Greg Tuck). I also co-edited a special issue of Philosophy on ‘Human Experience and Nature’ (2013) (with Darian Meacham). 

In 2009-11 I led an AHRC-funded project on the concepts of health, illness and disease.In 2011-12 I was awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship for a project entitled ‘The Lived Experience of Illness’. In 2012-13 I held a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship. 

My current research explores the phenomenology of illness. I am interested in augmenting the naturalistic approach to illness with a phenomenological perspective. I believe that as embodied persons we experience illness primarily as a disruption of lived body rather than as a dysfunction of biological body. But medicine has traditionally focused on returning the biological body to normal functioning, and has therefore worked from within a problem-focused, deficit perspective that ignores the lived body. A phenomenological approach can provide a framework for incorporating the experience of illness into the medical naturalistic account, by providing a rich description of the altered relationship of the ill person to her world. 

I am also interested in applying phenomenology to healthcare issues, such as understanding the experience of illness, enhancing communication between healthcare practitioners and patients and identifying focused interventions. 

I spend much of my time discussing these issues with medical and nursing staff and students and welcome every opportunity to engage with them. As well as teaching at the Philosophy Department I also teach at the Bristol Medical School and on the intercalated BA in Medical Humanities at Bristol.


I teach the unit Death, Dying and Disease - This unit will provide a systematic study of key philosophical themes relating to death, dying, and disease. The key philosophical questions to be studied are: (1) is death a harm, and if so, what kind of harm is it? (2) Should mortality (and our awareness of it) change how we live? (3) Would immortality be a good thing? (4) How does bodily vulnerability shape us? These themes will be studied drawing on a range of philosophical resources, including Epicurus, Thomas Nagel, Bernard Williams, JM Fischer and Martin Heidegger. The unit is open to second and third year philosophy students, as well as students on the intercalated BA Medical Humanities.

I also teach on the SSC Philosophy of Medicine, open to medical students, and on the unit History and Philosophy of Medicine.

I suerpvise PhD students, extended essays and MA dissertations on a range of topics relating to phenomenology, philosophy of medicine, death, and film and philosophy.


  • Phenomenology
  • Philosophy of Medicine
  • Film and Philosophy
  • Death



Department of Philosophy

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Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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