Sophia: An African Journal of Philosophy

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Philosophy as Pharmakon: Towards the hermeneutics of healing

Peter Oni


The history of philosophy gives us an insight into what good life portends. Plato, Aristotle and other ancient classics developed guiding principles on the ethical basis for behavioural cognition and existential logic. Hence, the interest of philosophy in other disciplines such as medicine and psychology is well known. Even contemporary philosophy through philosophy of medicine and ethics of care has shown specific interest in what makes life worth living. However, philosophical inquiries have demonstrated dangerous trends in medical practices in contemporary times undermining respect for life and the person. Hence, rather than being complementary the physician-patient relationship has become more of contradictions and pairs of opposites. It is in this vein that through an expository work, this paper seeks to interrogate the physician- patient relationship in the process of healing. Consequently, in the same line of thought with philosophers such as Paul Ricoeur and Martin Buber, among others, this paper argues that philosophy, besides its critical analytical feature also serves as a medicine, a pharmakon.

Keywords: Hermeneutics, Intersubjectivity, narratives, Pharmakon

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