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Illness (The Art of Living) Paperback – 20 Aug 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (20 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844651525
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844651528
  • Product Dimensions: 20.7 x 14.4 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 397,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"One of the most profoundly moving (as well as academically worthwhile) books I have had the pleasure (if that is the correct word) to read. The book will be a useful addition on reading lists for modules that examine illness and disability and death and dying and it has the potential to generate excellent discussions about how both the individual and society deal with illness and disability." Sue Child, Times Higher Education Supplement
"A genuinely important philosophical work. Carel succeeds in offering a wide-ranging, original, wholly convincing and quite beautiful account of the phenomenology of illness. This is a remarkably insightful book about what it is to be human and how to live. Anybody who cares about who they are and how they live ought to read it." --Matthew Ratcliffe, Reader in Philosophy, University of Durham

"This book achieves something rare among works of philosophy: it speaks with a heartfelt directness that instantly engenders an intimate connection between author and reader. It demands a level of personal engagement, both emotional and self-reflective, that is at times hard to bear, as the author courageously and persistently lays before us the painful details of her experiences of being ill and shares with us the philosophical insights that those experiences have informed or inspired. Despite its profoundly unsettling subject-matter, the book is eminently readable and engrossing; it exhibits a depth of humanity that is sadly lacking in much of the increasingly technical and jargon-laden products of contemporary philosophical discourse, and constitutes a vivid testament to the possibility of philosophical optimism in the face of potentially crushing adversity." International Journal of Philosophical Studies
"A masterpiece. Moving seamlessly between an unsparingly honest personal narrative and philosophical reflections, Havi Carel has fashioned a uniquely authentic account of the lived experience of illness. It should be read by everyone who is professionally involved with illness, who is ill, or is likely to become ill; which is to say, by all of us." --Raymond Tallis

"A tremendous achievement, as well as being a very moving personal document." Christopher Bertram, Professor of Social and Political Philosophy, University of Bristol
"This book offers an important contribution to the ongoing project of the phenomenology of illness, and offers a powerful argument for the inclusion of applied phenomenology in medical and healthcare training. One of the main strengths of this book is that it forces you to think, and to think philosophically. Carel neatly lifts philosophy off the page, and places it out there like a talisman in our everyday life. The book deserves to be read widely by the public, and I would suggest needs to be read widely by clinical practitioners as a point of reference for their own practice." Diane E. Pitt, Metapsychology
"A thoroughly readable, engaging book which should be warmly welcomed, not only for the personal nature of the writing, but for its ambition to draw on the insights of philosophers to improve the lives of ill people. It is a truly commendable effort which showcases the practical relevance of philosophy by applying it to the concrete situation of illness. Illness reflects the distinctly Epicurean idea of philosophy as 'medicine for the soul'." --The Philosophical Quarterly

About the Author

Havi Carel is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of the West of England, Bristol.

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Christopher D. Bertram on 19 Sep 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is a tremendous achievement, as well as being a very moving personal document. It is a philosophical meditation on the nature of and social meaning illness, disease and death. It discusses philosophical and psychological literature, Epicurus, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty. But it is also a personal memoir, it is about Carel's experience of being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, about what that meant for her presence in the world, about how she appeared in the eyes of others, and how she felt she appeared. It is about the encounter with medical professionals and their detached and external perspective on another's catastrophe; it is about the varied reactions of friends, some of whom couldn't maintain friendship. It is about how to confront the fact that all your assumptions about how your life is going to go: career, relationships, family, old age, can just be taken away. Carel was diagnosed with lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), a rare disease that affects young women, and for which the progosis is about 10 years from the onset of symptoms. The sufferer experiences a progressive decline in lung-function over that time. Life may be extended by a heart-lung transplant, but that's, obviously, a difficult business.

I'm not much of a fan of "contintental" philosophy, because I've often found it obscure to obscurantist. Carel, however, is trained in that tradition and is really good at overcoming the resistance of sceptics like me. She uses Merleau-Ponty's ideas about embodied subjectivity throughout the book to explore what illness is like for the sick person and how powers and abilities that are invisible to and taken for granted by the well person become all too manifest to the sick (or disabled or ageing) person.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Jeffreys on 9 Oct 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a book that will challenge your view of many things - how we live, how we face, challenge and ultimately cope with illness and death.

Having previously written a book on the philosophy of death, Carel finds herself in the position of having been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. In a highly readable, yet learned account, Carel takes us on a journey which intertwines her personal and professional understanding of life, living, illness and death.

I would never have thought that I could call a philosophical text a page-turner. But it is. I have never previously read any philosophy, and did not even know the word "phenomenology", and was amazed at the clarity with which Carel explains her, and others', thoughts and ideas.

There is no doubt that health professionals and medical students should read this. It will give you an insight that you might otherwise never have, from the unique standpoint of philosopher, patient and articulate author.

Carel has written an outstanding piece of work. Her poignant descriptions of what she has faced and how she has been treated (occasionally well, mostly badly) in the past few years, by friends, health professionals and total strangers will move you to tears. But the book does not read as a cathartic attempt to accept her fate, and is far more than a personal memoir. It seeks to understand what she has experienced in a philosophical framework, and offers this to others as a practically useful way of understanding and coming to terms with experience of life-threatening illness.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nr S. Wren-Lewis on 8 Nov 2008
Format: Paperback
I started reading this book on the way home from work and didn't stop until I went to sleep that night. This is not your usual philosophical work. I was grabbed by the reality of the issues discussed through Carel's poignant first-person descriptions of her experience of illness. However, this does not in any way diminish the philosophical merit of the work. In fact, it is the irreducible importance of this first-person perspective that is the work's whole point.

Carel argues that medicine (and, indeed, everyone) needs to take into account what it is like, moment to moment, day to day, for a patient to live their life within illness. She describes medicine as currently working from an objective, nonvalue-laden conception of disease, thus ignoring the patients subjective point of view. I actually think that this is a bit too strong. I think that medicine, at least implicitly, treats disease as a value-laden concept, and to a certain extent is set up to treat patients in such a way. However, the clever part of Carel's project is that it is impossible to go on and ignore the issue of a patient's lived-experience even if you think you have got the philosophical arguments out of the way. I do not think that phenomenology (a subjective first-person perspective) is the complete answer (I believe that medicine also needs a value-laden objective theory of disease in relation to an individual's flourishing, capabilities and functionings). However, Carel does not just illustrate, but through doing so, proves that it cannot stop there. Medicine will always need to take note of a first-person narrative account of illness. Exactly how a disease effects an individual's life cannot be fully got at in any other way.

Carel points the way towards a more holistic, value-orientated style of medicine. In my opinion, a lot more work needs to be done to show how this could be possible. But, most importantly, Carel shows why this work is a necessity.
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