The Absent Body
The body plays a central role in shaping our experience of the world. Why, then, are we so frequently oblivious to our own bodies? We gaze at the world, but rarely see our own eyes. We may be unable to explain how we perform the simplest of acts. We are even less aware of our internal organs and the physiological processes that keep us alive. In this fascinating work, Drew Leder examines all the ways in which the body is absent—forgotten, alien, uncontrollable, obscured.
In part 1, Leder explores a wide range of bodily functions with an eye to structures of concealment and alienation. He discusses not only perception and movement, skills and tools, but a variety of "bodies" that philosophers tend to overlook: the inner body with its anonymous rhythms; the sleeping body into which we nightly lapse; the prenatal body from which we first came to be. Leder thereby seeks to challenge "primacy of perception." In part 2, Leder shows how this phenomenology allows us to rethink traditional concepts of mind and body. Leder argues that Cartesian dualism exhibits an abiding power because it draws upon life-world experiences. Descartes' corpus is filled with disruptive bodies which can only be subdued by exercising "disembodied" reason. Leder explores the origins of this notion of reason as disembodied, focusing upon the hidden corporeality of language and thought. In a final chapter, Leder then proposes a new ethic of embodiment to carry us beyond Cartesianism.
This original, important, and accessible work uses examples from the author's medical training throughout. It will interest all those concerned with phenomenology, the philosophy of mind, or the Cartesian tradition; those working in the health care professions; and all those fascinated by the human body.
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absence action attention awareness background disappearance Biofeedback body surface body's brain breathing Cartesian Cartesian dualism chapter characterized chiasm complemental series consciousness corporeal corpse cultural death depth disappearance Descartes Descartes's Discourse on Method discussed disease disembodied disruption dualism dys-appearance dysfunction ecstatic embodiment example existential experience experiential exteroceptive eyes feel flesh focal disappearance focus form one body functions gaze gestalt hand hermeneutic human Ibid immaterial incorporation inner body Insofar intellect interoceptive intertwining Invisible involved language life-world lived body Maurice Merleau-Ponty Meditations ment Merleau-Ponty metaphysical mind Moreover motility movement nature Neo-Confucian notion nullpoint object one's ontological organs pain Passions perceive phenomenological Phenomenology of Perception phenomenon philosophical physical Plato presence principle refers relation res extensa role Sartre sensations sense sensorimotor sensory simply sleep soul Straus structure suggested surface body tacit temporal term thematization things thought tion trans University Press viscus visible visual Wang Yang-ming writes York