Illness as the saturated phenomenon: the contribution of Jean-Luc Marion.


Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia, Kalpaka Boulevard 4, Riga, 1050, Latvia. [Email]


During the last few decades, many thinkers have advocated for the importance of the phenomenological approach in developing the understanding of the lived experience of illness. In their attempts, they have referred to ideas found in the history of phenomenology, most notably, in the works of Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jean-Paul Sartre. The aim of this paper is to sketch out an interpretation of illness based on a yet unexplored conceptual framework of the phenomenology of French thinker Jean-Luc Marion. Focusing on concepts of the saturated phenomenon and flesh, the paper develops an interpretation of illness as the saturated phenomenon, which highlights a variety of dimensions of illness already elaborated within the phenomenology of medicine, such as the affective dimension of illness, the disruptive dimension of illness, the transformed perception of the self in illness, mineness of flesh in illness and the inexpressible and hermeneutical dimension of illness. In addition to that, the paper explores some of the consequences the proposed interpretation of illness offers regarding the nature of illness and health. It is argued that illness in its essence is very similar to the experience of other saturated phenomena, suggesting that the difference between them does not lie within the character of the affective givenness, but rather within the dynamic relationship between the affective givenness and its conceptualization. It is also shown that the experience of health is compatible with the experience of saturation and thus is not limited to the tacit and harmonious background state.


Affectivity,Flesh,Jean-Luc Marion,Phenomenology of health and illness,Saturated phenomenon,