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By Beatrix Pfleiderer (auth.), Beatrix Pfleiderer Ph.D., Gilles Bibeau Ph.D. (eds.)

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Extra info for Anthropologies of Medicine: A Colloquium on West European and North American Perspectives

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We must seek the intentions that are hidden and disguised by the descriptions. As soon as we proceed in this manner the concept of nature as lacking intention falls apart Because then it is revealed that behind our description of nature as intentionless, a mere mechanical play of forces, there lurks our intention of technical mastery and exploitation of nature. Our intention obscures our view of possible intentions of nature that could be contrary to our own intentions. " (v. Uexkiill and Wesiack 1988: 64; my translation).

The lively, sometimes stormy and wild sensations inside my body cannot even be described in what Bernstein called the 'restrictive code' , they are transformed into the rather lifeless concepts of the 'elaborate code'. Again I am reminded of Wittgenstein's observation that the limits of our language are the limits of our world. How can we look for what we cannot even express linguistically? But I 'feel' that there is something beyond my language, and also prior to cognition. In experiencing my own bodily sensations I am no longer the outside observer who tries to 'detect' an objective reality.

My translation). For centuries. semiotics has played a leading role in medicine. But in ancient and medieval times. the authors argue. only the semantic aspects of the signs were considered important, whereas Phenomenology of the Body 51 their syntactic and pragmatic aspects were neglected. Disease was interpreted as a representation of societal or supranatural forces. This indicates that semiotic thought alone does not guarantee a framework that sees man as subject. To value man as subject means to drop the preconceived, merely semantic and symbolic subject-object framework and start off with a syntactic phenomenology.

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