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Durham University



Publication details for Professor Martyn Evans

Evans, H M (2001). “The ‘medical body’ as philosophy’s arena”. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 22(1): 17-32.

Author(s) from Durham


Medicine, as Byron Good argues, reconstitutes the human body of our daily experience as a medical body,unfamiliar outside medicine. This reconstitution can be seen in two ways: (i) as a salutary reminder of the extent to which the reality even of the human body is constructed; and (ii) as an arena for what Stephen Toulmin distinguishes as the intersection of natural science and history, in which many of philosophy''s traditional (and traditionally abstract) questions are given concrete and urgent form. This paper begins by examining a number of dualities between the medical body and the body familiar in daily experience. Toulmin''s epistemological analysis of clinical medicine as combining both universal and existential knowledge is then considered. Their expression, in terms of attention, respectively, to natural science and to personal history, is explored through the epistemological contrasts between the medical body and the familiar body, noting the traditional philosophical questions which they in turn illustrate.