restricted access The Hands and Feet of the Child: Towards a Philosophy of Habilitation
Abstract

Much of the history of philosophy has deployed the metaphor of sight over and above language of tactility and feeling. The body, the flesh, the hands and feet are seen as impediments to reason's upward journey towards the pure "light" of truth. But it is precisely these tactile points of contact with the world where knowledge and action begins and ends, and it is the child's curious reaching into and running through the world that must serve as a reminder to the philosopher the origins, termini, and oscillations of the process that is wisdom. Put succinctly, the mind is a hand, and the hand is a mind. Through an exploration of John Dewey's philosophy of habit as articulated in Human Nature and Conduct, this paper emphasizes the need for a philosophy of "habilitation," one that turns to the hands and feet as the major organs of experience, knowledge, self-consciousness, and the ethical encounter with the world and others. When the philosopher amputates the hands and feet from the process of wisdom she severs herself from the very possibility of loving wisdom and eliminates philosophy's potential for analysis, transformation, and action, thus perilously disconnecting philosophy from life itself.


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