The Logic of Care and the Chronicity of Crisis: Rethinking Medical Humanities in Time of COVID-19
This talk is part of the panel Death and Survival: the existential dimension organized by HKBU.
Medicine is a gigantic enterprise. Medical Humanities is a discipline developed to critique its overconfidence. Ironically, during the crisis of the newly emerged unknown disease, Medical Humanities has been sacrificed in the spiralling curricula students find themselves busy catching up with. The reality is: when empirical knowledge is not yet available, value principles, moral imagination, and the ethical consideration adapted in different cultures must step in. These are the hidden curricula one recognizes as important but tends to excuse him or herself too busy to attend to. In this presentation, I first reflect upon neglected “health problems” instead of “diseases” surfacing during the crunch time of COVID-19, predominantly on the structural factors that have become too chronic to prepare us, and the shifting identity of healthcare workers to react to the 21st century plague. Second, I call for emergent cross-disciplinary responses to critically assess our complex society, in which health should have been co-defined by all stakeholders, but unfortunately has become an uncompromising slogan. Finally, I propose the logic of care as the key approach to rethink the role and function of Medical Humanities.