From Divided Objects to Whole Subjects (completed)

The project will carry out a theoretical study with the aim of developing and imparting a perspective in medicine that has been given little attention in today's medicine. This perspective is one that concerns the sick person and attempts to define concepts related to being a sick person.


About the project

The theoretical basis for the project is the German-Continental tradition within medical anthropology and the attempt of the German physician and philosopher Viktor von Weizsäcker (1886-1957) to develop pathosophy, a doctrine about the sick person, in which the introduction of the subject into medicine is a central element. This tradition and this theorist have been given little attention in the Nordic and Anglo-American literature.

The project will explore how a doctrine on the sick subject can be said to represent a more robust kind of holistic philosophy in medicine. With clinical medicine as a scientific basis, the project shall attempt to make visible the practical consequences of such a holistic understanding in medicine today.


Principal objective: To impart and develop theoretical insight in medicine with the aim of presenting a practical manageable contribution to today's medicine in order to take care of the sick person in a better way, and thus to ensure the quality of medical practice in its meeting with the sick person.


  • With the aid of a theoretical study, to illuminate what it involves to be perceived as and to exist in the world as a sick person, and thus to contribute to making visible and developing pathosophy in medicine.
  • To contribute to a systematic presentation and discussion of the German-Continental tradition within medical anthropology.
  • To contribute to a clearer and a more productive understanding of the concept of holism in medicine.
  • To make visible the possible consequences of the set of concepts developed in the project for today's medical practice.


  • Martinsen, Elin Håkonsen (2011). Harm in the absence of care: Towards a medical ethics that cares.. Nursing Ethics. ISSN 0969-7330. 18(2), s 174- 183
  • Martinsen, Elin Håkonsen (2010). Care for Nurses Only? Medicine and the Perceiving Eye. Health Care Analysis. ISSN 1065-3058. . doi: 10.1007/s10728-010-0161-9


The Norwegian Research Council, 3 years grant

Start - Finish


Published May 9, 2011 7:23 PM - Last modified Nov. 26, 2019 2:28 PM


Project leader

Professor Jan Helge Solbakk