This paper contends, following Plato and Broekman, that (1) seeing images as images is crucial to theorizing medicine and that (2) considering clinical pictures as images of images is a much-needed epistemic complement to the domineering view that sees clinical pictures as mirrors of disease. This does not only offer epistemic, but also ethical benefits to individual patients, especially in those cases where patients suffer from chronic, debilitating, and terminal illnesses and where medicine provides no, or limited, answers in terms of treatment, intervention, and meaning. By creating room for a theory of clinical pictures that rightfully emphasizes its pictorial nature, patients and doctors alike may be encouraged to consider under what authorship, and with which epistemic tools, alternative, supplemental images may be produced to get at the existential reality of disease and suffering. Ultimately, this paper argues that the epistemic tools provided by aesthetics may offer such glimpses into the reality of disease and suffering, and I conclude by discussing a few artistic renditions of breast cancer to illustrate my point.
Oele, Marjolein, "Mimesis and Clinical Pictures: Thinking with Plato and Broekman through the Production and Meaning of Images of Disease" (2018). Philosophy. 65.