Purdue University Graduate School
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Persons in Dis-ease: Understanding Medicine Through Phenomenology

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posted on 2022-04-28, 01:40 authored by Thomas DoyleThomas Doyle


Medicine is often referred to as both a science and an art. The scientific rigor of medicine has allowed for the advanced and effective treatment of disease whereas the humanistic art of medicine has allowed for clinicians to uncover how best to care for their patients in a compassionate manner. This dissertation hopes to discover how medicine can coordinate scientific expertise with compassionately focused care. The goal of this dissertation, then, is to uncover how medicine can begin to develop a more personalized medicine in which patient’s values and life-plans are coordinated with a scientific understanding of the treatment of disease. First, this dissertation establishes how medicine can be split into two perspectival understandings of disease (a first-personal and second-personal understanding), then it argues how these two understands can be coordinated with one another to develop a more holistic understanding of patient care. Next, this dissertation illustrates how concepts from phenomenology hold relevance within clinical practice in order to show how clinicians can develop a more robust understand of their patients as persons. This understanding is then used to recapture an account of the clinical relevance of empathy so that clinicians are better able to imagine what it might be like to be a patient living through illness.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Philosophy

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Daniel Smith

Additional Committee Member 2

Jacqueline Mariña

Additional Committee Member 3

Daniel Kelly

Additional Committee Member 4

William McBride

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