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Durham University

Department of English Studies


Academic Staff

Publication details for Professor Jane Macnaughton

Carel, H & Macnaughton, J (2012). “How do you feel?” oscillating perspectives in the clinic. The Lancet 379(9834): 2334-2335.

Author(s) from Durham


“The body is originally constituted in a double way: first, it is a physical thing, matter…Secondly, I sense ‘on’ it and ‘in’ it: warmth on the back of the hand, coldness in the feet.” These words were written by Edmund Husserl, the 20th-century philosopher and founder of phenomenology, the philosophical study of human experience. For Husserl, this duality of experience is a unique feature of human existence. Humans are both physical matter, like kettles, trees, and rocks; but they are also capable of having conscious experience. On the one hand, we are physical objects; on the other hand, we are consciousness. What is the relevance of this dual existence to medicine? We consider the philosophical basis for this view and its potential importance to clinical consultations.

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