Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 23 (3):401-411 (2020)

Bas de Boer
University of Twente
In current phenomenology of medicine, health is often understood as a state of transparency in which our body refrains from being an object of explicit attention. In this paper, I argue that such an understanding of health unnecessarily presupposes an overly harmonious alignment between subjective and objective body, resulting in the idea that our health remains phenomenologically inaccessible. Alternatively, I suggest that there are many occasions in which one’s body in health does become an object of attention, and that technologies mediate how a relation with one’s body is formed. First, I show prominent accounts in current phenomenology of medicine understand health in terms of a harmonious alignment between objective and subjective body. Second, I argue that there are many occasions in which there is a disharmony between objective and subjective body, and suggest that also in health, we cannot escape being an object that we often relate to. Then, I draw on postphenomenology to show how technologies such as digital self-tracking applications and digital twins can be understood as mediating the relationship with one’s own body in a specific way. In conclusion, I argue that both technologies make present the objective body as a site for hermeneutic inquiry such that it can be interacted with in terms of health parameters. Furthermore, I point to some relevant differences in how different technologies make aspects of our own body phenomenologically present.
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DOI 10.1007/s11019-020-09949-0
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Phenomenology of Perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1962 - Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: The Humanities Press.

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