The consequence: beyond models to the thing itself

Julian C. Hughes

in Thinking Through Dementia

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199570669
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754654 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

The consequence: beyond models to the thing itself

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Much of this chapter has been concerned with the nature of human encounters and our understanding of such encounters in the light of the analysis of previous chapters. There are three aspects to consider. First, there is the background to the encounters, which is, after all, the world. But it is the world conceived broadly (and not through the narrowing lens of a model), as habitus for instance, and in such a way as to allow it to form a constitutive part of what it is to be a human being. It is against the particular background of our knowledge of Malcolm Pointon's life narrative that we can attempt to understand the content of his sketch and of his other behaviours. In reality this means understanding behaviours and language used in the context of (against the background of) the world and our worldly engagements. By our nature, we cannot be disengaged inhabitants of the world. It is our world. Secondly, there is the phenomenological aspect of these encounters, which turn out to reflect, once they are seen in the raw as ontological and ethical events, our Being at the level of the human soul. Once the face of the Other has been seen, what emerges is an appreciation of the kind of beings that we are as human beings-in-the-world. We cannot ultimately pin down (neither in language nor in reason) this phenomenon—the quiddity of the immaterial soul—except that in authentic everyday exchanges (such as those between Barbara and Malcolm even when he was in the advanced stages of the disease) we gain some sense of the transcendent reality of the soul as informing our lives as mutually engaged embodied subjects. Thirdly, there is the centrality of our relationships. These reflect our being as kinds of this sort—of flesh, blood, and soul—situated in the world. A human being of this sort occupies the world and shapes it in accordance with characteristic normatively constrained embedded worldly practices. And a person with dementia, such as Malcolm Pointon, will be a human person as an inevitable consequence of his or her situated and embodied life history.

Chapter.  19420 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Psychiatry

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