In Milan Kundera’s novel Farewell Waltz we come across a doctor who is immoral: indifferent, negligent of privacy, manipulative. He is only loyal and available towards his male friends; since his patients are all women (he works in a centre for the treatment of female infertility), we can presume that this is a case of misogyny. However, the truth is deeper. The doctor slides into immorality when he indulges in generalisation, which makes him pay no attention to single individuals but to an abstraction called “humanity”. Only when, thanks to friendship, he regains a particularising outlook, he becomes morally unexceptionable again. Kundera warns us against generalising medicine and describes the apparent paradox of a doctor who does not respect his patients when treating them and making them happy, and instead respects them when he exposes them to the risk of death or asks unreasonable, unconventional favours of them.
Filosofický časopis, redakce, Filosofický ústav AV ČR, v.v.i., Jilská 1, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic
Publication order reference