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[Perspectives] Illness as a philosophical tool

When once I was bed-bound with back pain, I reached for the words of another invalid, Marcel Proust, and began to make headway with his experience of “lost time”. Recovering 6 months later, I had not come to the end of Remembrance of Things Past, but I had learned that the minutiae of everyday lived experience can have their own fascination (even if Proust never quite addressed his own asthma directly). This approach to life resonates with philosopher Havi Carel’s book Phenomenology of Illness. Carel laments that philosophers, traditionally men, neglect a high proportion of what matters to people—love, family, children, ageing, and illness.

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