Pathology as a Phenomenological Tool

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The phenomenological method (or rather, methods) has been fruitfully used in exploring the experience of illness in recent years. However, the role of illness is not limited to that of a passive object for phenomenological scrutiny. I propose that illness, and pathology more generally, can be developed into a phenomenological method in their own right. I claim that studying cases of pathology, breakdown, and illness offer illumination not only of these experiences, but also of normal function and the tacit processes that underpin it. In particular, I claim that the study of embodiment can be greatly enhanced, and indeed would be incomplete, without examination of bodily breakdown and what I term bodily doubt. I offer an analogy between illness and Husserl’s epoché, suggesting that both are a source of distancing, and therefore motivate a reflective stance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalContinental Philosophy Review
Publication statusSubmitted - 1 Jul 2019


  • Phenomenology, illness, pathology, Merleau-Ponty, Husserl, epoche

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    Carel, H. (2019). Pathology as a Phenomenological Tool. Manuscript submitted for publication.