Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 209–219 | Cite as

Sensibility and clinical understanding

  • Per Nortvedt
Scientific Contribution


This paper argues that there is a dimension of human consciousness which allows for a pre-intentional and non-cognitive intuition of sensibility. A sensibility which allows for the vulnerability of the human other is by nature characterized by passivity and receptivity. Moreover, sensibility invokes the significance of relating to the human other in an affective way of being touched by his or her pain and suffering. This capacity of being distressed by the distress of another person opens up for ethical responsibility and even in a fundamental sense is a presupposition for full-fledged clinical knowledge in medical care and health care.


affect clinical sensitivity cognition emotion ethics Levinas phenomenology sensibility 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Medicine, Section for Medical EthicsUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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