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date: 07 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Hermeneutics as the art of understanding concerns the totality of being a human being in the world. By thematizing health in its unstable equilibrium, Gadamer’s phenomenological hermeneutics of medicine offers an alternative to the predominantly scientific modes of understanding health and illness. Gadamer advocates embracing the truth of lived experience without silencing what seems to be incomprehensible, unpredictable, and inexplicable. Hermeneutics promotes an understanding of the art of healing, which overcomes the overwhelming tendency in contemporary medicine to interpret phenomenological descriptions of the human condition into the language of clinical and pathophysiological processes that require pharmacological intervention. The hermeneutic task of the doctor is to learn together with the patient about our self-understanding by thinking about and dealing with the medical condition. Clinical medicine can be practiced as hermeneutics by addressing the phenomena of health and illness as the first-person human experience that calls for understanding.

Keywords: Gadamer, phenomenology, hermeneutics, health, illness, interpretation, medicine, psychopathology

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