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Medicine and the Phenomenological Method

  • Frances Chaput Waksler
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 68)

Abstract

If he is to be one who thinks for himself…an autonomous philosopher with the will to liberate himself from all prejudices, he must have the insight that all the things he takes for granted are prejudices, that all prejudices are obscurities arising out of a sedimentation of tradition — not merely judgments whose truth is as yet undecided — and that this is true even of the great task and idea which is called “philosophy” (Husserl, 1970, p. 72, emphasis in original). My goal in this paper is to suggest that phenomenology can serve the medical profession by providing a different way of looking at medical theory and practice, a way that is grounded in both philosophy and lived experience. Central to a phenomenological perspective is an exploration of the taken-for-granted assumptions (what Husserl refers to above as “prejudices”) that undergird thought and action. Such an exploration can bring forward for examination features of medical theory and practice that otherwise may go unnoticed, unexamined, and unassessed. Husserl (Palmer translation, 1971, p. 77) states, “The term ‘phenomenology’ designates two things: a new kind of descriptive method which made a breakthrough in philosophy at the turn of the century, and an a priori science derived from it; a science which is intended to supply the basic instrument … for a rigorously scientific philosophy and, in its consequent application, to make possible a methodical reform of all the sciences.”1 Phenomenology provides both (1) an intentionally minimal set of philosophical assumptions about the nature of humans and the world and (2) a set of methodological principles based on those assumptions that provide rules for engaging in phenomenological analysis.

Keywords

Cochlear Implant Medical Theory Medical Work Deaf Community Phenomenological Method 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frances Chaput Waksler
    • 1
  1. 1.Wheelock CollegeBostonUSA

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