(Amsterdam Medical Centre/University of Amsterdam)
Paper long abstract:
Aesthetics are commonly thought of as dwelling in the realm of the fine arts. However, aesthetic values are also very prominent in daily life and health care, but often go unrecognized. This is unfortunate, because, contrary to the proverbial impossibility to argue about taste, aesthetic values are at stake in many arguments, debates and misunderstandings. In this paper I want to explore the role of aesthetic values in medical treatment. Are doctors speaking a language of truth and reality where patients are speaking a language of aesthetics, of quality of life? I explore how medical treatments contain their own variety of aesthetics, often relating to the accessibility or state of health of the body ('good veins' are accessible to the needle, 'nice wounds' are wounds that heal properly, even if they may seem appalling to the patient, efficient and clean feeding is to be preferred over being occupied with feeding oneself all day in messy ways). I will confront these aesthetics with those that patients bring forward. My case is the technology of tube feeding for patients with ALS. This technology can be seen as changing a patient's aesthetic experiences (taste, smell, sociability) in different ways, and in different relations, both with their relatives and with doctors. In this way, solidarities through shared aesthetics will be explored.
Technological innovations in caring communities: New solidarities