Professor Uffe Juul Jensen on “Patients’ and users’ knowledge. The central challenge for contemporary medicine?”

We are delighted to invite you to our upcoming SSHM Seminar Series event. Prof Uffe Juul Jensen (Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Culture and Society and Director of the ‘Health, Humanity and Culture’ research centre at Aarhus University, Denmark) who is a visiting professor in our Department will speak about his latest work on “Patients’ and users’ knowledge. The central challenge for contemporary medicine?”

Prof Uffe Juul Jensen

Prof Uffe Juul Jensen

When: Thursday 26th February from 13:00-14:30  (Please note different time and place!)

Where: Room WAT/F-WB1.14, Franklin-Wilkins Building, Waterloo Campus, King’s College London

Abstract: “Medicine always exists because there are people who feel sick, not because  there are doctors to tell people of their illnesses”. Georges Canguilhem, medical doctor and the most influential philosopher of medicine in the 20th century, learned this from the French surgeon René Leriche. Doctors and medical science need patients. But how would medical sciences and health sciences change if patients weren’t just subjects of treatment and research, but were recognized as subjects whose ways of knowing are essential to treatment and scientific development in medicine? Richard Horton claims that the central challenge for contemporary medicine is epistemological and he puts this challenge as a single question: “How can the patient and the doctor share ways of knowing about their disease that enable each to fulfil their expectations of one another?” I will contribute to answering this question by considering specific issues about functional disorders and personalized medicine. I will go back to Canguilhem in order to go beyond him. Inspired by Immanuel Kant, Canguilhem distinguished between scholastic (expert) concepts and popular (everyday) concepts (characterizing for instance ‘norm’ as a scholastic concept and ‘normal’ a popular concept).  But how are expert concepts and popular concepts interrelated in the development of knowledge about health and disease? Canguilhem illuminates how the breakdown of biological (‘vital’) norms leads to the emergence of new norms (in healthy people) or to normalizing social practices. I will discuss how those who suffer  (because of damaged ‘vitality’) might contribute to developing knowledge about their suffering and the conditions of their suffering as well as to developing possibilities for changing these conditions?

Uffe Juul Jensen Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Culture and Societyand Director of the ‘Health, Humanity and Culture’ research center at Aarhus University, Denmark. His research interests include philosophy of medicine, evidence based practice, and science and the humanities; ethics and moral philosophy; good life development practices; and theories of welfare and the welfare state. His latest publications and research projects on a combination of these topics can be foundhere.

For more information about our SSHM Seminar Series, please visit:


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