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With this issue of the journal comes the first fascinating issue of Medical Humanities, a twice yearly independent add-on edition to the Journal of Medical Ethics. Not only is it welcome for its own sake, it is also welcome as an intellectual, aesthetic and from time to time even perhaps an emotional bonus for all who read the JME. But why should we welcome study of medical humanities ? Editorial policy of the JME has always been to focus on reasoned analysis and discussion of medical ethics issues. But this is not the only way of addressing ethical issues, especially those ethical issues that relate to medicine's involvement in the emotions and passions of the beginnings and ends of people's lives and of those lives when afflicted by illness disease and disablement. Literature, art in its various forms, drama, poetry, rhetoric, aspects of religion and other spiritual experience, history, aspects of philosophy other than ethics, even music may all in some way illuminate one of the central medical ethics issues—how ought a doctor to live his or her life as a good doctor. In this way study of medical humanities complements and enriches study of medical ethics.
Furthermore, medicine has always blended with its technical and scientific aspects what has long been known as the art of medicine, and that art, while partly informed by, and encompassing, medical ethics clearly has far more to it than medical ethics, and includes aspects that are quite independent of medical ethics. But the art of medicine, though essential for good medicine, has been allowed to languish, apparently disowned or at least largely ignored by both medical technology and medical science. All who value it and are …