How Illness Transforms Philosophy

Philosophers should talk about the experience of illness

Illness is a breathtakingly intense experience. It unsettles, and sometimes shatters, the most fundamental values and beliefs we hold. It is physically and emotionally draining. It can be physically and psychologically debilitating. Illness requires serious effort and continuous work to adapt practically to its limitations and to adjust psychologically to the pain, restricted horizons and frustration it brings. It forces the ill person and those around her to confront mortality in its most direct manifestation. In all of these ways illness requires labour, attention, and a conscious and sustained effort.

But, as I argue in my latest book, Phenomenology of Illness (OUP 2016), illness is also existentially and intellectually demanding – and potentially rewarding – in ways hitherto unexplored. Illness can challenge our most fundamental beliefs, expectations and values and this acco

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