Calendar | Conference

The Phenomenology of Chronic Illness and Ageing

Stockholm, 17 - 18 November 2022

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CFP is closedOriginal Call for Papers

International conference: The Phenomenology of Chronic Illness and Ageing


Conference arranged by the Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge in the research project "Existential Philosophy in Medicine and Health Care". Keynote speakers: Kevin Aho , Rasmus Dyring, Sara Heinämaa, and Kirsten Jacobson


Call for abstracts:
Every living thing goes through a continuous process of ageing, starting the moment it comes into existence and ending the moment it dies. To be conscious and experience the flow of time – as humans and many other animals do – means to experience this – from the organism’s point of view – never-ending ageing. As Robert Pogue Harrison notes in his study Juvenescence: A Cultural History of Our Age: “The most sophisticated philosophers think of age as a function of time, yet a careful phenomenological analysis reveals that we should instead think of time as a function of age” (Harrison 2014: 1). Notwithstanding this rather basic insight, phenomenological studies of the ageing process as such are astonishingly rare in contrast to the thousands of pages that have been devoted to the subject of temporality and human finitude. The only classic work on ageing in the phenomenological tradition is Simone de Beauvoir’s La Vieillesse (The Coming of Age) from 1970 (1996).
Reflecting a similar skewness, the phenomenology of illness has often been viewed from the perspective of falling ill rather than from the perspective of enduring and learning to live with chronic bodily dysfunctions. As we are moving into the 21st century, medical researchers and practitioners have gradually developed treatments that make it possible to live much longer with life-threatening diseases and infirmities. This development makes it important to reflect upon how illness is not only a momentary loss of health but a constant predicament and part of a normal life. Chronic illness has developed into a permanent challenge for patients, who live longer and longer despite being diseased, a challenge that they take measures to master and control in their everyday lives.
To age arguably means to become subjected to both natural and cultural forces of alienation making it harder to live a good life. As Beauvoir points out, you grow old and find yourself old in and by the gazes of other persons (Beauvoir 1996: 283-284) How are we to view the relationship between natural and cultural processes in chronic illness and ageing? Could a life with bodily pains and disabilities still be a life worth living and what determines if it is possible to live well with chronic illness or/and in old age? These are questions we are looking forward to discussing at this conference. Contributions proceeding from philosophical as well as more empirical perspectives in phenomenology are welcome.

Abstracts of maximum 300 words should be sent to the conference secretary before the 15th of August 2022
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