HUMS 029, Medicine and the Humanities: Certainty and Unknowing

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1pm-2:15pm
Semester-Year: 
Fall 2021

Course Description:

Sherwin Nuland often referred to medicine as “the Uncertain Art.” In this course, we address the role of uncertainty in medicine, and the role that narrative plays in capturing that uncertainty. We focus our efforts on major authors and texts that define the modern medical humanities, with primary readings by Mikhail Bulgakov, Henry Marsh, Atul Gawande, and Lisa Sanders. Other topics include the philosophy of science (with a focus on Karl Popper), rationalism and romanticism (William James), and epistemology and scientism (Wittgenstein).

Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program.

Led By:

Matthew Morrison's picture

Professor Matthew Morrison

M.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, 2012
B.S.J., Northwestern University, 2006

My interests include the “two cultures” of Rationalism and Romanticism; physician-writers – including Bulgakov, Chekhov, Henry Marsh, Lisa Sanders, and Oliver Sacks; philosophy of science – particularly Feyerabend and Karl Popper; phronesis; medical ethics; and ‘prosaic Romantic’ thinkers – including Tolstoy, Wittgenstein, William James, Borges, and Mikhail Bakhtin.