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The Philosophical Role of Illness

Philosophical methods have been used to study illness for several decades. Havi Carel reverses the relationship between the two, asking: does illness have a philosophical role? She suggests that illness modifies, and thus sheds light on, normal experience, revealing its ordinary and therefore overlooked structure. Illness may prompt reflection or a suspension of previously held beliefs. Illness is uninvited and threatening, throwing the ill person into anxiety and uncertainty which can profoundly alter their outlook. Therefore, can illness change the ways in which we philosophise?

Havi presented this lecture for both her Inaugural Lecture at the University of Bristol on 11 April 2016 and the Annual Lumsden Lecture at the University of Nottingham on 25 April 2016.

Read Havi’s blog post on the philosophical role of illness.

Listen to the Bristol lecture


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