• Jack Cummins
    2.1k
    I am aware that this question could be seen as wide, but I am thinking of how we embodied as human beings. We are living beings, and beyond the experience of sensory experiences and the way this has possibilities and limitations for our knowledge, we are also individuals with bodies. The whole experience of having a body affects us on a personal and social level. I am referring to the subjective experience of how we see ourselves and how others see us on a social level. I am asking to what extent the whole experience of having a unique, individual body is of significance as a social and personal factor in affecting our experiences and understanding, as a basis for understanding everything.

  • Jack Cummins
    2.1k
    Extra: I am trying to combine the way aesthetics of self, and in the social dimension, affects upon our perception and understanding as individual beings, in physical bodily form, as an essential aspect of experience, as we try to grasp our philosophical understandings.
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    :up: Excellent topic, Jack! Will return when I have time.
  • javi2541997
    595
    There two important things here: myself and how others see myself as how I think or my perceptions.
    For example, check this dialogue:
    who are you? Javier
    Yes but which Javier?
    Excuse me?
    Yes, which Javier in the other's people minds.
    Which one is the real?
    To whom are you exposing your real self?


    The word "person" meant is Ancient Greek mask so this says all.

    How we are perceived by others is really important. Yes we have only one unique body and it's characteristics but the reflection is not as basic as just physical.

    affects us on a personal and social level.Jack Cummins
    You have completely nailed it. Affects a lot in many ways. But also depends in the open mind of the other person.
    Will you hire a new employee who is tattooed all the head? I will not mind but probably other will do...

    I guess I will sound negative but I think we live an era which we evaluate a lot the way of how other are exposing theirselves
  • TheMadFool
    9.2k
    Two real people should hopefully clarify the matter with the possibility that they might also have the opposite effect and muddy the waters.

    Megan Fox: Known for her beauty. Her identity is physical and even if she doesn't identify herself with her body, other people do and I'm sure the constant focus on her exceptional physical attributes rubs off on her and, I'm only guessing here, sooner or later she might begin to think of herself as her body.

    David Chalmers: Recognized for the formulation of the hard problem of consciousness, Chalmer's is an intellectual figure and again people identify him for his mental prowess and not his physical attributes which are quite average by my standards.

    To cut to the chase, people seem to excel, either through effort or by the vagaries of fortune, either physically or mentally - think chess and athletics - and their identities are fixed according to what they excel at.

    Too, it's worth mentioning that men, some men at least, seem to be on some kind of knightly quest for beauty with brains and women, some of them, have been documented to be in search of brawn with brains. :joke:
  • Bitter Crank
    9.3k
    Whether we are embodied as a perfect specimen or as a problematic body, "being a body" is a critical issue, especially for problematic bodies (persons who are blind, deaf, missing limbs, paralyzed, disfigured, obese, ambiguously gendered--hermaphrodytism, and so on). Defects (my preferred term, not "differently abled"). Disabilities are a problem per se, but are compounded by negative social experiences.

    "Who we are" is largely socially formed, and growing up as a disabled person may warp one's self image, and this warping ramifies in various ways for the individual: a sense of inferiority undermining social confidence; decreasing one's sense of personal efficacy (ability to accomplish goals); loss of at least some self-worth; and so on.

    None of this is news; but insufficient attention has been paid to how we are embodied. In 1978 theologian James Nelson published Embodiment: An Approach to Sexuality and Christian Theology. I found it very useful in addressing my own issues.

    The thing is, our bodies are the lens through which we experience the world, including the social world of other bodies. We can successfully counter distortions in this lens, but not without help--help which is not always available.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.1k

    Your discussion of two people is interesting, but it does raise the question of how much beauty is equated with the female and male with intellect. I think that this is changing with so many women being seen as of intellectual ability and so the whole area of glamour of popstars is collapsing the balance of the gender divide.

    However, we are still stuck in bodies, for better or worse. I do think that self esteem is important and this relates to how we see ourselves fitting in with the whole spectrum of ugliness and beauty. Stereotypes can be limiting, and I do think that the whole construction of self worth is related to this, in ideals of self. Perhaps Narcissus is exploding and imploding in our own personal mirrors of identity construction.

    I believe that this is part body and part mind. We may be struggling with our appearances, but also, in our ethical ideals. However, I do think that our sense of low worth can impinge on our perceptions of life and everything. On the other hand, this can give rise to creative possibilities.
  • NOS4A2
    4.4k


    I am asking to what extent the whole experience of having a unique, individual body is of significance as a social and personal factor in affecting our experiences and understanding, as a basis for understanding everything.

    The body is our experience and understanding. It is our mind, our consciousness, our soul. It is the self, the identity, the free will. Much of what philosophers speak about is the body, whether they acknowledge it or not.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.1k

    The whole way in which you say about what philosophers speaking about, including self and consciousness, as arising from the the body is why I am raising the whole topic of having a physical body, and what this means in terms of experience.
  • Bitter Crank
    9.3k
    I am a gay man who was born with very poor vision. These two aspects of my embodiment proved problematic in my now-distant youth. In my rural midwestern world, homosexuality dared not speak its name, was sanctioned, stigmatized, etc. This ground has been covered by lots of writers. Visual impairment has been less well covered, at least in the popular press (never mind ophthalmology). Blindness, near blindness, low vision, etc. limited my experience of the world. So does any other sensory defect. They also limited / affected my social interactions.

    I don't regret being gay; I do regret having poor vision. Perhaps in a cosmopolitan urban setting, these would have been less significant; maybe even insignificant. As it was, these were problematic until I finished college and set myself up in an large-urban setting.

    Here's a specific example: Difficulty in reading texts which are too small to see easily interferes with learning. Too much attention is required to acquire the shapes of the text, not enough to absorb content. I have always been an enthusiastic reader, but would have read more and better if tablets with a few million downloadable books had been available in the 1950's and 60s. Technology really has made a difference to visually impaired people. (Yes, there were clunky work arounds back then, but this was the rural midwest, remember.)

    Not seeing, not being able to drive, not being able to participate in sports (what ball? I don't see any ball), mediocre school performance, social exclusion, and so forth had a decidedly negative affect on my sense of personal efficacy--my sense of capacity to accomplish goals, and my self-esteem.

    I think the sorts of experiences I had contributed to a more pessimistic philosophical approach to life, and a lower estimate of what is possible for me. Sure, over time I compensated, but successful compensation took a long time.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.1k

    I think that you make some very important points in considering the whole way in which the body can be seen as problematic. This involves the perspective of the disabled, intersex and gender dysphoric people, but also, many others who feel limited by their bodies, including those who simply feel ugly. Even those who feel beautiful may see this as a limitation on the way they perceive reality.
  • NOS4A2
    4.4k


    The whole way in which you say about what philosophers speaking about, including self and consciousness, as arising from the the body is why I am raising the whole topic of having a physical body, and what this means in terms of experience.

    Yes, but I was trying to go further than that and say experience, self and consciousness are the body. I wouldn’t say they arise from it, like a plant would from soil. I don’t think emergentism is accurate on the simple basis that absolutely nothing of the sort emerges from the body. That’s why I think we need a philosophy of the body.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.1k

    I have just seen your second post, which I think that you may have written as I was writing this one. I do agree with your perspective of disadvantage. I have a number of areas, including some eyesight problems, which do even have some effect on my reading on this site.

    While I do believe that it can be that the limitations of our bodies, and our perceptions of these, can be limiting, I do believe that they can be a starting point for a far deeper quest for further critical evaluation.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.1k
    I definitely agree that the body comes with a whole load of limitations and I do wish for a whole philosophy of the body to be created. Perhaps this is the most essential area for philosophical exploration as it is the one we face daily and individually.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.1k

    I think that you are correct to identify the idea of masks, as most of us function on the level of personas. Socially, we may put ourselves in grave danger if we did otherwise. However, on a personal level, we know ourselves so much more intimately. I think that this level of knowing is important, and perhaps, in our most intimate relationships this can be explored further.
  • Jack CumminsAccepted Answer
    2.1k

    I have looked at your link on DH Lawrence , and thank you for providing this. I do think that novelists and other creative writers can provide us with insights. These may become lost in philosophy, in the attempt to credit reason above all other ways of understanding human experiences.
  • javi2541997
    595
    However, on a personal level, we know ourselves so much more intimately. I think that this level of knowing is important, and perhaps, in our most intimate relationships this can be explored further.Jack Cummins

    Agree. This point is very important. How we are ourselves is very unknown to others. I guess it’s even a private right keep our personality secret to others. This means that only people who you really trust you will open your “heart” or “persona”. I think it is beautiful. But it also depends in the person. I guess there are people who wants to be more conservative/introvert.
  • unenlightened
    5.6k


    You might also look into "embodied cognition", or if you want to give yourself a proper headache, try Julia Kristeva.

    And/or https://www.artandeducation.net/classroom/video/66044/trinh-t-minh-ha-reassemblage
  • Jack Cummins
    2.1k

    I think that the idea of intimacy and disclosure is becoming an increasingly unusual idea, as we move into the information age. We are becoming used to being able to access personal details as aspects of statistics. I do believe that something is being lost, and this is connected to the way we exist as persons. All the data collected does not add up to the meaning of personal identity. We can look at the facts, but that tells us nothing about what it means to be that person. Doctors may measure, weigh, check the body mass and do other physical tests, but none of this tells us anything about the human being, which reaches out to experience and explore meaning and ask philosophical questions.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.1k

    Thanks for the link. I will explore further tomorrow, to postpone any real headaches, before bedtime. The philosophical headache could even become a topic.
  • javi2541997
    595
    but none of this tells us anything about the human being, which reaches out to experience and explore meaning and ask philosophical questions.Jack Cummins

    Completely! But this is why we are so unique as humans. There are some subjects or criteria that the doctors can’t describe at all. I guess it is better this situation. Sometimes we need to go further in physics or body. It is important trying to understand how our soul or mind work. It is one of the most dilemmas in society. What do we want? How we can pursue happiness?

    As you perfectly has said, something is lost. I guess it is the lost of finding happiness. Look how human can go to Mars (true! It is a good goal) but we do not know how to be happy because it is so complex.
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    I am asking to what extent the whole experience of having a unique, individual body is of significance as a social and personal factor in affecting our experiences and understanding, as a basis for understanding everything.Jack Cummins
    I've learned from Schopenhauer that each body consists in immediate subjective apprehesion of the "thing-in-itself", or the real, which he conceives of as "the will" – that is, embodiment experiences, is affected by, the world from the inside-out immersively prior to "grasping it" from the outside-in partially, approximately. Nietzsche later conceives of "bodies as perspectives" from and by which experiences are interpreted (or aesthetically stylized). Almost a century later Maurice Merleau-Ponty phenomenologizes the body as "flesh of the world" (rather than merely "in-the-world" (pace Heidegger)). And during my student days, George Lakoff et al conceived of bodies as template-generators (my term, not his) of the metaphors used to structure everyday and theoretical discourses: embodied cognition.

    Other 'philosophical conceptions of the body' which intrigue me I've gleaned from the works of

    Simone de Beauvoir (gendered body-as-object for male subjects)

    Emmanuel Levinas (face-to-face with the other)

    Franz Fanon (masking (the face of) others)

    Pierre Bourdieu (socially inscribed habitus (à la Witty's forms-of-life))

    Michel Foucault (strategic disciplining of docile bodies)

    Nel Noddings (caring bodies rather than just agents)

    Philippa Foot (functional defects of a species disclose what's good for bodies belonging to that species)

    Bell Hooks (racializing bodies via aesthetics, media & fashion)

    and others I can't recall at the moment – all of which seem anticipated to varying degrees, mostly implicitly, by Schopenhauer's 'metaphysics of body-subjects'. (Could be my spinozist-bias showing re: conatus of mindbody modes (EII & III)).
  • Tom Storm
    751
    The whole experience of having a body affects us on a personal and social level. I am referring to the subjective experience of how we see ourselves and how others see us on a social level.Jack Cummins

    180 Proof is a hard act to follow and he provides a good roadmap of approaches. I would add media driven images of beauty and attractiveness as a continual influence, a kind of acid rain of images that fall into all our lives. I am interested in how people's self image often translate into whether they consider themselves to be good or not, or worthy or not. It's almost as if perceptions of attractiveness serves to build a narrative about what is or is not possible.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.1k

    It appears that you have done a lot in this area, so thank you for pointing me in the direction of important writers on this topic. I am aware, to some extent, of Shopenhauer and Nietzsche's perspective but I will try to read these in a bit more detail. I have a copy of Simone de Beauvoir's 'The Second Sex', so I can read some of it.

    It seems to me that part of the question is connected with bodies in relation to others. You mentioned about face to face communication and this involves a direct impact of awareness of the body in communication. The sense of sameness or otherness arises in connection with awareness of gender, race, age and other aspects of the body which are apparent through appearances.

    Definitely, the whole area of phenomenology comes into play because one's physiology affects perception and consciousness. @Bitter Crank referred to the whole way in which eyesight difficulties play. Personally, I am a bit of an insomniac and this affects me in the day, because it often means that I my brain feels tired to cloudy which has an impact on my thinking. Also, when I am lying in bed unable to sleep, I am aware of how I go into overdrive of thinking, and sometimes in a negative way. Here, there is probably some kind of feedback loop between physiology and thought processes. Also, mindfulness comes into the whole picture because we are able to observe our own physical sensations, emotions and thoughts.
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    You mentioned about face to face communication and this involves a direct impact of awareness of the body in communication.Jack Cummins
    Levinas' "face-to-face" is more about ethical encounters (i.e. responding – subjecting oneself – to the vulnerability or suffering of "the other") and how another's agony-anguish becomes mine via attention to another's face ... or something like that. Definitely not mere "communication". A mode of contact, or sympathy, that can be embodied. A phenomenological ethics of bodily vulnerability-availability to the demands of the other (stranger, foreigner, enemy (alien)) body. Levinas is quite deep and insightful.

    It appears that you have done a lot in this area ...
    The body was of central concern to me in the 1980s for mostly reasons of "race" (being a large, athletic, black male moving warily through a number of exclusive, non-black spaces) as well as an instinctive rejection of platonism's/idealism's (& christianity's) 'disembodied gaze'. By the '90s I'd broadened my concern to include (human/social) ecology, that is, focusing on bodies intertwined ecologically, which had the impact of grounding ethics for me in a vibrant, pluralistic, naturalism. For decades since, Spinoza's 'philosophy of immanence' (Deleuze) still makes reflectively-being-a-body-with-other-bodies indispensable for my agency (i.e. well-being).
  • Jack Cummins
    2.1k

    I just read your links and found the one about Julia Kristeva"s ideas on horror very interesting because I could relate to that based on my experience of working in nursing care. I have worked in mental health but while training in nursing I did placements in a general nursing and in some settings involving physical health problems. I found these extremely difficult and I think that this was probably due to coping with the gore and horror. I can cope with these in fiction but being expected to see them in reality are two separate matters.

    I did a placement in a ward of deep wound surgery and I struggled to get up and face going each day. I have seen a fair amount in psychiatric care as well, including a lot of the physical wounds of self harm. Surprisingly, I never actually saw a corpse, and I am thankful for at the present time I have not. However, a few settings I have been in there has been a whole sense that death which seemed to pervade the whole atmosphere.

    The mention of the whole boundary of self and other developing in childhood is one that I find fascinating. The idea of narcissism is a whole complex one, and one which is discussed within the psychoanalytic literature on personality disorders. One idea is the whole idea 'thick and thin skin narcissism' in which the person might have little concern for others perception of him or her in some respects, but in certain respects have heightened sensitivity and capacity to become offended or wounded so easily. The whole issue of sensitivity is, of course, one that affects all of us in ways and it is this is so relevant to the topic because we can become wounded by others to the extent of it affecting self esteem and self image.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.1k

    The whole way in which images in the media affect us is a fascinating one.The whole way we perceive ourselves as ugly or attractive does affect us so deeply. It is becoming an increasing area for men too, not just women. One associated aspect is the one of weight, especially in the development of eating disorders.
  • unenlightened
    5.6k
    @180 Proof reminds me that the body is generally racialised and universally enslaved to the intellect - as depicted by Eldridge Cleaver. Find me the film where the jocks triumph over the nerds. No, it's always mind over matter; brother ass is tolerated but made subservient to the eternal mind.

    Now put all that in brackets or scare quotes and append " says the white intellectual. And so (the other link) a film in which you (or I, or anyone) are mentioned as the viewer who cannot look at the body without demanding to know the meaning of every movement conceived as necessarily gestural, necessarily significant of something else, and never complete in itself. It reminds me of the way one cannot look at a work of art without the aid of an adequate blurb of interpretation already provided.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.1k

    Thanks for clarifying Levinas's idea of face to face. It sounds interesting, the whole relationship with vulnerability, and the enemy.

    The whole experience of having a particular body in daily life is one which is interesting, especially your own reflection of the experience of being a black, large and athletic. It is so different from my own as I am rather short, white and not the slightest bit athletic. People push their way past me in queues and I often have to ask people to reach items for me on the top shelves in shops. I do think that the whole experience of our size does affect our identity.

    When I was working, I was aware of the way in which race affects interaction. Most of the staff I have was working with in mental health care care were black. I am also aware of the way that you are not religious and I can imagine that must affect you because I had the experience of many black Christians preaching their Christian beliefs to me, rather forcefully sometimes. Of course, I am sure that there are many black people who are not religious at all, but I am sure that you meet a lot of extremely religious individuals from your own culture.

    I like the idea of 'bodies entwined ecologically', because it does seem grounding.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.1k

    I do believe that our whole experience of the body affects the whole question of whether we are happy or not. The way we are perceived, as well as our health affects our quality of life, and I think that they are probably bound up together, as evident in depression. But, of course, it is complex because in some cases it goes in the opposite direction and people can go into manic flight, including feelings of elation, when facing negative experiences. This just shows how complicated mind and body are.
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