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Med Health Care Philos. 2000;3(1):17-23.

Gadamerian dialogue in the patient-professional interaction.

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Department of Philosophy, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland.


In his seminal work, Truth and Method, the German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer distinguishes between three types of what he calls the experience of the 'Thou'. In this paper, Gadamer's analysis of this experience is explained in terms of his philosophical hermeneutics and brought to bear upon the patient-professional relationship. It is argued that while Gadamer's analysis implies fruitful insights for a dialogical account of the patient-professional interaction, it harbours elements which are conducive to paternalistic practice of medicine. The strong attribution of value to tradition and the respect for authority emphasized in his theory result in a lack of sensitivity for individual self-determination which is needed for a successful account of the patient-professional relationship.

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