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Healthcare spirituality: a question of knowledge 

Healthcare spirituality: a question of knowledge
Chapter:
Healthcare spirituality: a question of knowledge
Author(s):

John Swinton

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199571390.003.0015
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date: 19 October 2017

In this chapter, I will look at how and why it is that healthcare practices have a tendency to focus on buckets, rather than waterfalls, and why it is that spirituality is required both to bridge and to fill the gap between the two, that is, to offer something new and to affirm the necessity of both. The way that I will approach this task is by beginning with the question of knowledge. The question ‘how do we know what we know’ sounds like an abstract philosophical argument. However, as will become clear, it is a deeply practical question that is foundational for our understanding of why spirituality in healthcare is not only important, but absolutely necessary. Spirituality is a form of knowledge that reveals important things about how and why we choose to care in the ways we do. It is a form of knowledge that is different from scientific knowledge and yet deeply tied in to it. We need both, in order to care well. The chapter will point out the theoretical and practical significance of spirituality and offer a rationale for its necessary incorporation into contemporary healthcare practices.

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