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This chapter sets out the central argument of this book – that personal bioinformation has critical roles to play in our construction of self-narratives that are capable of remaining coherent and inhabitable when confronted by our embodied and socially embedded experiences and of supporting us in making sense of and navigating these experiences. It suggests that our lives and experiences are inescapably those of embodied beings and outlines what is entailed by this claim. It proposes that any satisfactory account of narrative self-constitution must accommodate the significance of our embodiment as the context in which we construct our self-narratives and as the source of both narrative contents and limits upon unfettered self-definition. From these premises, this chapter argues that personal bioinformation – to the extent that it provides reliable and meaningful insights into our bodily and biological states, capacities, and relationships – can provide vital constitutive and interpretive tools for the interpretation and construction of our embodied self-narratives. This discussion distinguishes its position from suggestions that personal bioinformation gets us closer to narrative ‘truth’ and responds to concerns that proposing a narrative role for bioinformation commits us to the view that our identities are defined by our biology or bodies as objects.
Chapter 6 considers The City of God books XIII and XIV, which complete Augustine’s inquiry into the origins of the two cities, one marked by humility and obedience, the other by pride and rebellion, and the metaphysics of pride and humility. Augustine’s defense of humility in this pair of books aims to reveal humility as fertile soil for abundant life, while pride pollutes the ground and withers life at its root.
Neil Sinhababu is interested in showing the significance of TSZ for today’s philosophical work in moral psychology. According to Sinhababu, this book is the only place where we can find Nietzsche’s most compelling critique of the rationalist idea that reason is independent of the passions and constitutes a person’s true self as well as the ground of his virtue. Through a close examination of two chapters from the start of TSZ, Sinhababu shows how Nietzsche defends the Humean claim (as perhaps absorbed from his reading of Schopenhauer) that the bodily passions use reason as their tool and constitute a person’s self and virtues. He also shows how Nietzsche anticipates and rebuts the recently influential counter-arguments of Christine Korsgaard and John McDowell. In Sinhababu’s analysis, Nietzsche would have rejected Korsgaard’s unified agent requirement and would have argued that the phenomenology of bodily passions is sufficient to explain McDowell’s idea of perceptual saliences.
This chapter explores how cleaners experience and approach dirt. Dirt plays a pivotal role in their everyday work life. It matters not just symbolically but also in its very materiality. Working with dirt can feel cyclical, frustrating, painful and futile. It can threaten cleaners’ health, safety and their dignity. At the same time, cleaners also find in their work opportunities for earning an honest living, a sense of satisfaction and the respect of others. They enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when turning dirty spaces into clean ones. Working with dirt can allow for liberties, providing cleaners with a sense of autonomy. As much as dirt can disgust, it also fascinates cleaners. The pursuit of dirt can make their work exciting, fun, and even hot. All this shows how treating dirt as merely a source of shame, a common assumption in academia and public, does not do justice to cleaners’ lived experiences. This assumption risks reinforcing a stigma and deny that cleaners can approach what they do with both interest and motivation. Whereas dirt plays a significant, even starring role in the cleaners’ workplace dramas of dignity, it is but only one of many.
This chapter explores how the idea of “liquid and changeable” fits a new anthropological and psychological theory of body, individual, and relationships, which puts relational complexity in focus. Contemporary theories on relationship are illustrated; these perspectives are particularly helpful for individuals today and for hypermodern families who ask for help.
In this article, I discuss two approaches to the phenomenon of gesture, constituted by the existential dimension of embodiment, intersubjectivity, affectivity, and language: while Martin Heidegger states that human bodily movement as a whole should be understood as gesture in contrast to the spatial movement of things, Vilém Flusser integrates under this notion a multitude of human practices and activities that common sense hesitates to call gestures. The dilemma of the phenomenology of gesture consists in this tension between the plural concreteness of gestural appearances and the irrepressible temptation to identify a unitary layer that would allow them to hold together.
This study examines the revolution of ideas surrounding the body in 1950s Japan from the perspective of two women dancers, Noh dancer Tsumura Kimiko (1902–74) and butoh dancer Motofuji Akiko (1928–2003). By contrasting one mid-twentieth-century view—that the postwar era offered a chance to “liberate” individual bodies—with the backdrop of continued control over bodies exercised by large institutions, I first show that this perceived rupture was not as stark as it initially appears. Moreover, I show how Tsumura and Motofuji rejected popular ideas about the body's purpose to forge their own. This allowed them to critique and confront the issues that popular views presented, particularly for disabled or gendered bodies. These issues involved increasing urbanization and the treatment of bodies based upon their desirability. This article argues that Tsumura's and Motofuji's conceptions of “body” challenged gender norms and presented new ideas about how to live.
In DA I.1, Aristotle asks whether nous (understanding or reason) is chōristē (separable) and presents a separability condition: the soul is separable if it has some activity proper to it that is not shared with the body. I argue that Aristotle is speaking here of separability in being, not separability in account or taxonomical separation. In the case of the soul, this sort of separability would allow the soul to exist apart from the body. Met. Λ.3, GA II.3, and DA III.4 suggest that Aristotle introduces the separability condition because understanding meets it. Reason is independent of the body in a way that no other power of the soul is. Nous alone is divine and separable. DA III.5 then situates this claim: there is an aspect of understanding that can only be active in connection with the body, but understanding is what it is and continues to be active apart from the body. This raises further questions about the life and ontological status of the sort of separated human nous Aristotle envisages. While figuring out its precise contours is difficult, Aristotle is, in fact, committed to the possibility of human intellectual activity continuing apart from the body.
Two influential Anglican scholars, N.T. Wright and M.B. Thompson, have concurrently sought to challenge the Church and the Academy to reconsider their long-held belief in the immaterial soul, and to encourage them to think more biblically about their theological anthropology. Identifying the reasons for, and recognizing the implications of, the challenge, this article responds by addressing the contentions of both scholars and the alternative anthropology they propose, and advances in rejoinder a healthier, dualistic, anthropology. Specifically, the article presents a richer view of the soul, one that is conceptually stronger, and more biblically rooted, than the views Wright and Thompson espouse (as indeed also the views they renounce).
I present an overview of On the Soul, Aristotle’s investigation into how psuchē (soul) explains biological phenomena in a unified way. This principle serves as a final, formal, and efficient cause of living activities. Soul needs specific consideration because it is a unique sort of form. It is responsible not just for giving living things their capacities, but also for when and how they exercise these capacities. Soul orders the ways in which living things grow, reproduce, move, and cognize the world. It accounts for all the more specific capacities and activities of the living thing. Studying soul thus gives Aristotle the opportunity to make some of his most subtle distinctions about kinds of capacity and activity. Aristotle’s discussion of soul as cause also prepares the way for considering how it works together with body, as Aristotle does in the Parva Naturalia and biological works. I then present synopses of the chapters in this guide and discuss how they relate to one another.
The chapter discusses the various forms of the performativity of the political and examines the enactment of the Karbala paradigm through theatrical performances (tashabih) and the ritual of mashy ‘ala al-jamur (walking on hot coals). The individual and collective emotions that are generated through tashabih and their effect on the body play an important role. The emotional pain caused by the oral narration together with the visual performance and enactment of historical events are interwoven with the actual physical pain that is self-imposed through Shi‘i ritual practices. The reciprocal relation between emotions, the body, and visuality is discussed in more detail through examining this particular act of resistance.
This chapter opens with a brief vignette on the long struggle to give women a voice in history across different parts of the world. It then examines the agendas and ambitions of gender histories, the discovery of men’s studies, the history of private life, the history of the body. Gender, it argues, did not only develop new fields of historical inquiry, it also impacted massively on traditional fields of historical writing, including political history, the history of empire, the history of science, economic history, nationalism studies and the history of warfare. The fields of women’s and gender history have been closely connected to a feminist politics of historical writing. It sought to recover the full range and depth of women’s experiences and it discussed a range of diverse gender identiteis and multiple ways of constructing the category of ‘woman’ and ‘gender’. It also emphasised the relationality of gender with a range of other master concepts for historical writing, inclucing race, class and religion. By historicising gender identities, it also de-essentialised those identities and pointed to the discursive construction of gender, with more recent historians also rediscovering the embodied experience of gender. Gender history, the chapter concludes, played a crucial role in pluralising our understanding of identity.
Plato’s tripartite theory is used as a lens to increase our understanding of Dialogical Self Theory (DST) and to stimulate the further exploration of its personal, social, and societal possibilities. Plato creates links between (a) body parts (head, chest, belly), (b) faculties of the soul (logos, thymos, eros), and (c) societal groups (philosophers, military, artisans). Whereas in Plato’s vision, three main body parts are distinguished, DST is based on the assumption of a multiplicity of body parts that are linked to a multiplicity of embodied I-positions. Furthermore, whereas Plato puts reason (logos) structurally above emotion (eros), DST sees reason and emotion as equivalent and “cooperative” systems. The assumption of reason-with-emotion, instead of reason-above-emotion, creates room for the emergence of dialogical relationships among these central faculties. Finally, whereas Plato distinguishes three hierarchically organized societal groups, DST, as a multipartite theory, interiorizes a broader variety of social groups as participants in a multivoiced democratically organized self.
Aristotle's On the Soul aims to uncover the principle of life, what Aristotle calls psuchē (soul). For Aristotle, soul is the form which gives life to a body and causes all its living activities, from breathing to thinking. Aristotle develops a general account of all types of living through examining soul's causal powers. The thirteen new essays in this Critical Guide demonstrate the profound influence of Aristotle's inquiry on biology, psychology and philosophy of mind from antiquity to the present. They deepen our understanding of his key concepts, including form, reason, capacity, and activity. This volume situates Aristotle in his intellectual context and draws judiciously from his other works as well as the history of interpretation to shed light on his intricate views. It also highlights ongoing interpretive debates and Aristotle's continuing relevance. It will prove invaluable for researchers in ancient philosophy and the history of science and ideas.
The way Leibniz applied his philosophy to mathematics has been the subject of longstanding debates. A key piece of evidence is his letter to Masson on bodies. We offer an interpretation of this often misunderstood text, dealing with the status of infinite divisibility in nature, rather than in mathematics. In line with this distinction, we offer a reading of the fictionality of infinitesimals. The letter has been claimed to support a reading of infinitesimals according to which they are logical fictions, contradictory in their definition, and thus absolutely impossible. The advocates of such a reading have lumped infinitesimals with infinite wholes, which are rejected by Leibniz as contradicting the part–whole principle. Far from supporting this reading, the letter is arguably consistent with the view that infinitesimals, as inassignable quantities, are mentis fictiones, i.e., (well-founded) fictions usable in mathematics, but possibly contrary to the Leibnizian principle of the harmony of things and not necessarily idealizing anything in rerum natura. Unlike infinite wholes, infinitesimals—as well as imaginary roots and other well-founded fictions—may involve accidental (as opposed to absolute) impossibilities, in accordance with the Leibnizian theories of knowledge and modality.
This chapter analyses the discourse surrounding four words that are frequent and statistically salient across all sections of the press: healthy, body, diet and exercise. Through these foci, the analysis explores how the press constructs a link between health and not having obesity, as well as how individuals are implored to eradicate their obesity and reduce their risk of obesity by regarding their bodies as entities that are separate to their selves and subjecting their bodies to gruelling treatment, including through extreme diets and intense exercise regimes. This chapter questions which of the weight loss methods widely reported across the press are likely to engender weight loss in readers and, more importantly, whether or not they are likely to encourage healthy attitudes towards the body and the self.
This chapter shows that marks of punctuation are continuous with the much larger forms of punctuation that interrupt human experiences in time and space, especially ‘larger relations of voice and body, space and absence’. The chapter shows that punctuation has ‘reciprocal and reflexive relationships’ with what it punctuates while at the same time punctuation marks can work ‘as reminders of and reflections on vocal and bodily presence’.
Alison Milbank’s chapter on Gothic prose, ranging from Ann Radcliffe in the late eighteenth century to contemporary Gothic, shows how often language in these works verges on the inexpressible, reminding us that our rational understanding of human experience may only be partial. Language that superanimates the natural world, the frequent use of em dashes that gesture towards the unsaid, even the unsayable, grotesque and arabesque styles, and equivocal, combinatory techniques are all mobilised to create a set of effects that test the limits of our capacity for understanding.
The second chapter revisits the work of Henry Fuseli, an artist whose notoriously distorted representations of the male nude puzzled viewers. Yet Fuseli remained significantly invested, intellectually and artistically, in the legibility of the body: for more than two decades, the Swiss-born, London-based artist collaborated with his childhood friend Johann Lavater on a treatise on physiognomy, the study of the face to determine man’s inner traits. As part of his effort to transform physiognomy into a modern empirical science, Lavater placed great emphasis on the physical correspondence between the external appearance of the body and its internal, imperceptible truths. However, Fuseli often represented bodies that could not be read according to the criteria of Lavater’s system. In doing so, the artist called into question not just physiognomy but the underlying claims on which it was based, unveiling a world in which “appearance” and “truth” fail to correspond.