Further information: Pat Johnson: The Enigma of Health

Expanded description:

Text: The Enigma of Health, by Hans-Georg Gadamer (Stanford UP, 1996).  New paperback copies of this book are available at Content books in Northfield and online for approximately $20.   Used copies are available online for less than $15 (see bookfinder.com, e.g.). 

In addition, summaries will be provided for the assigned reading.


Week 1: Introduction to the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer and to the philosophical approach and some of the concepts used in the essays we will read.  Reading the first essay in the book, “Theory, Technology, Praxis.”

Week 2: Medicine as an art.  Reading essays 2, 6, and 9 “Apologia for the Art of Healing,” “Between Nature and Art,” and “Authority and Critical Freedom.”

Week 3: Bodily experience, well-being, and sustaining well-being within a social whole.   Reading essay 5, “Bodily Experience and the Limits of Objectification.”

Week 4: Death and how our society handles death.  Reading essay 4, “The Experience of Death.”

Week 5: Mental health.  Reading essays 3 and 11, “The Problem of Intelligence” and “Life and Soul.”

Week 6: Dialogue as fundamental to well-being and healing.  Reading essays 10 and 13, “Treatment and Dialogue” and “Hermeneutics and Psychiatry.”

Week 7: Health as equilibrium.  Reading essays 8 and 12, “On the Enigmatic Character of Health” and “Anxiety and Anxieties.”

Week 8: Final discussion shaped by interests of the participants.

Given the current pandemic, there will be additional suggested readings and participants will be encouraged to share articles and other readings that they find helpful for thinking about health in the time of pandemic.