In both its inaugural and post-war versions, phenomenology rediscovered the fundamental philosophical dimension of corporeality; reinstated its importance, which had been veiled by the dualist tones of traditional philosophy; and invested it with an undisputable central position among its preoccupations. The complex investigations regarding the phenomenon of human corporeality undertaken by the founder of phenomenology, Edmund Husserl, are well known, most of them being focused on the constitution of space, starting from the zero-point of orientation, which is the personal body: my body is the “absolute here” of orientation, the point whence I measure my distances and evaluate my movements. The phenomenon of corporeality also has a fundamental role as regards the dimension of intersubjectivity: intersubjectivity is shaped by means of the dynamics between one’s own living body and the corporeal body of the other. As for Martin Heidegger, although his fundamental work, Being and Time, seems to evade the issue of corporeality, this happens with a definite intention: that of not falling into the trap of reifying the body, of understanding it in terms of the metaphysical idea of substantiality. What Heidegger rejects is therefore the very metaphysics that resides behind the traditional idea of corporeality. This is why the deconstruction of this metaphysics also presupposes the deconstruction of the traditional idea of a substantial body (and of the body/spirit dualism in general). The purpose of this deconstruction is not to eliminate the idea of body, but to determine a genuine, essentially phenomenological meaning, opposed to any biologism, of human corporeality (especially in the late courses on Nietzsche, and also in the Zollikoner Seminare). Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy will place corporeality (starting from a “phenomenology of perception” and from keen analyses of the phenomenon of touch) in relation to the phenomenon of the world, considering the human being in its intertwining with the flesh of the world (chair du monde). In his turn, Jean-Paul Sartre will propose the fundamental significance of the corporeal phenomenon of shame, a meditation that will be adopted and defined as a fundamental meaning of subjectivity in Emmanuel Levinas’s ethical approach: subjectivity becomes the nakedness of the face, exposure without any reserve or cover, the embrace of the other. Michel Henry will integrate the Christian idea of Incarnation within the context of a phenomenology of absolute life as pure immanence. And, of course, still other phenomenologists not mentioned here have not hesitated to address other nuances of the key phenomenon of corporeality, contributing new insights without ever exhausting the possibilities for further investigation.
Starting from this summary presentation of several moments of the history of the phenomenology of embodiment, we may ask: Why does phenomenology constitute a privileged method in the research of corporeality? Is it only because the phenomenological method has a propensity to explore what is familiar and to question what seems to be self-evident? Is it only because phenomenology reveals the concreteness of phenomena as encountered in everyday life? Is it because the corporeality that phenomenology aims to seize and interpret is not an abstract and inaccessible theoretical fact, but rather the closest and the most current phenomenon of our life? Is it because phenomenological investigation is able to bring the mute and pre-linguistic depths of embodied experience to appropriate expression? Is it because phenomenology aims at an encompassing approach destined to capture the primordiality of the phenomenon in question? Is it only because phenomenology is constantly oriented towards the integrality of the phenomenon studied and towards its primal unity?
For the 2012 issue of Studia Phaenomenologica we invite scholars and phenomenologists to submit contributions that interpret or describe embodied experience, both in its wholeness and in its multifarious manifestations. In addition to discussions of the problem of body in the history of phenomenology, we encourage authors to submit genuine phenomenological investigations of the phenomenon of embodiment.
Deadline: 15th November 2011
Submission information: http://studia-phaenomenologica.com/?page=submit
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