Should physicians study philosophy?
Should physicians study philosophy? We think the answer is yes. But then, we think that everyone should study philosophy: it is, after all, the most fascinating, challenging, stimulating, rewarding study of all.
But should physicians in particular study philosophy? We still think the answer is yes, but here we anticipate some scepticism. You may be one of the sceptics. What you may not know, though, is that scepticism about the relevance of philosophy to medicine is a distinctively modern phenomenon. Prior to the Renaissance (roughly), doubt on this issue would have seemed about as sensible as doubt about the relevance of anatomy to medicine. The goal of medical art, it would have been said, is health: and health requires the proper functioning of the body and the mind. Hence, the doctor needs anatomy, for the health of the body, but also philosophy, for the health of the mind. Cicero writes:
"There is, I assure you, a medical art for the soul. It is philosophy, whose aid need not be sought, as in bodily diseases, from outside ourselves. We must endeavour with all our resources and all our strength to become capable of doctoring ourselves."
The Intercalated BSc in Philosophy is an intensive one-year course of study in philosophy, intended for medical students in their intercalated year.