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Hermeneutics of clinical practice: The question of textuality
Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Linköping University, Department of Medicine and Health Sciences, Health and Society.
2000 (English)In: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, ISSN 1386-7415, Vol. 21, no 2, 171-189 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article I scrutinize the question whether clinical medicine, in order to be considered a hermeneutical enterprise, must be thought of as a reading of different "texts." Three different proposals for a definition of the concept of text in medicine, suggested by other hermeneuticians, are discussed. All three proposals are shown to be unsatisfying in various ways. Instead of attempting to find a fourth definition of the concept of text suitable to a hermeneutics of medicine, I then try to show that the assumption that one needs to operate with the concept of text in order to develop a hermeneutics of medicine is false. Clinical interpretation can be shown to essentially consist in a dialogical hermeneutics, the pattern of which can be found in the philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer. This kind of hermeneutics is not a methodology of text reading, but an ontological, phenomenological hermeneutics in which understanding is a necessary feature of the being-together of human beings in the world. This being-together in and through language takes on a peculiar form in the clinical encounter, since the medical meeting is typically characterized by an asymmetrical enstrangement and has a specific goal - health for the patient - absent in other forms of hermeneutics. Central issues of Gadamer's philosophy, e.g. "fusion of horizons," are shown to fit the structure of clinical practice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2000. Vol. 21, no 2, 171-189 p.
Keyword [en]
dialogue, Gadamer, hermeneutics of medicine, clinical interpretation, philosophy of medical practice, Ricoeur, textuality
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-49656OAI: diva2:270552
Available from: 2009-10-11 Created: 2009-10-11 Last updated: 2011-01-14

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