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Bodily Dimension in Thinking, The

Daniela Vallega-Neu

Publication Year: 2005

Daniela Vallega-Neu questions the ontological meaning of body and thinking by carefully taking into account how we come to experience thought bodily. She engages six prominent figures of the Western philosophical tradition—Plato, Nietzsche, Scheler, Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, and Foucault—and considers how they understand thinking to occur in relation to the body as well as how their thinking is itself bodily. Through a deconstructive and performative reading, she explores how their thinking reveals a bodily dimension that is prior to what classical metaphysics comes to conceive as mind-body duality. Thus, Vallega-Neu uncovers the bodily dimension that sustains their thought and their work. As she contends, the trace of the body in our thought not only exposes the strangers we are to ourselves, but may also lead to a new understanding of how we come to be who we are in relation to the world we live in.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

During my studies in Freiburg I found myself saying to a friend that if there is one thing I could say about truth this was that it hits its target (“Wahrheit trifft”). What I had in mind when I was saying this was not a concept or an idea of truth but a certain corporeal experience that goes along with thinking when an event or thought exhibits a certain creative and transformative power....

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pp. xiii-xix

Since its Greek beginnings,Western philosophy has been characterized in its most proper activity as thinking reflecting on itself, and this self-reflection has been characterized as a move away from the body. It appears that body and thinking acquire their proper determinations in their distinction and opposition. Certainly, the philosophers of our tradition are well aware that this move away...

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PART ONE. At the Limits of Metaphysics

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pp. 1-2

Plato and Nietzsche mark limits of the history of metaphysics in different ways. In rather simplistic terms, one may say that where Plato initiates a certain dualism between body and thinking, Nietzsche works at dissolving it. However the limits that their philosophies mark are not simply a point of beginning and a point of ending in a linear and uniform history. First, because their thoughts...

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Chapter On. On the Origin of the Difference of Psyche and Soma in Plato’s Timaeus

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pp. 3-19

Plato is commonly known in the history of philosophy as an initiator of a dualistic concept of body and soul that favors the soul at the expense of the body. By contrast, Nietzsche is known as the thinker who reversed the Platonic order between the “true” intelligible world and the “untrue” sensible world by reinscribing thinking in terms...

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Chapter Two. The Return of the Body in Exile: Nietzsche

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pp. 21-37

Plato’s Timaeus allows us to consider the emerging of a differentiation between the sensible and the intelligible in thought and an originary bodily dimension in thought from which this difference arises. These considerations put into question the difference between the sensible and the intelligible. At the same time, the originary bodily dimension in...

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PART TWO. The Return of the Body in Exile: Nietzsche

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pp. 39-41

Despite the fact that it remains related to Cartesianism, the phenomenological movement, as founded by Husserl and developed afterward by German and French philosophers, makes a decisive step in reopening thinking to the world in its phenomenal richness and with this to bodies and ways of thinking bodily.This movement leaves behind the neo-Kantian epistemological trap framed by the...

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Chapter Three. Driven SpiritThe Body in Max Scheler’s Phenomenology

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pp. 43-58

Scheler’s phenomenology and, more specifically, his phenomenological analyses of the body are not getting much attention in contemporary continental philosophy. The reason might be that in contemporary thinking, the question of the body arises together with an attempt at overcoming a metaphysical dualism of body and mind. It may seem that Scheler...

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Chapter Four. Thinking in the Flesh: Merleau-Ponty’s The Visible and the Invisible

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pp. 59-78

Merleau-Ponty’s thought appears to take a direction that is very much opposed to what the last chapter revealed about Scheler. Where Scheler sees the psychophysical sphere as a stepping stone to higher acts of thought that arise precisely in the sublimating negation or repulsion of the psychophysical sphere of being,...

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PART THREE. Exposed Bodies

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pp. 79-81

Although it has been one of my aims to show that the exploration of the bodily dimension in thinking leads to a desubjectivation of thought, among the philosophers that we considered in the previous chapters only Merleau-Ponty explicitly maintains that thinking is of the sensible and that the body reveals to us an intercorporeal world in which also thinking arises. (Nietzsche carries us...

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Chapter Five. Bodily Being-T/here: The Question of the Body in the Horizon of Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy

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pp. 83-102

When in the sixties in one of the seminars of Zollikon1 somebody asked Heidegger why he wrote so little about the body (Leib),2 his answer was that the corporeal (das Leibliche) is the most difficult question.3 Indeed we find only few texts where Heidegger speaks explicitly about the body.4 Before venturing into an exposition...

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Chapter Six. Exorbitant Gazes: On Foucault’s Genealogies of Bodies

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pp. 103-120

Foucault’s work is quite different from the writings of the philosophers that the previous chapters focus on, so much so that many academics are not quite sure whether Foucault should be considered a philosopher at all. Some people would rather call him a historian or a structuralist, since his thinking neither moves in the paths of self-reflection...

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Concluding Prelude

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pp. 121-128

Throughout the explorations of the bodily dimension in thinking in my readings of Plato, Nietzsche, Scheler, Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, and Foucault, a recurrent theme is the desubjectivation of thought. To a certain extent this is a deconstructive (destruktiv) approach in the Heideggerian sense: it questions the centeredness of thinking in subjectivity in order to reveal a more fundamental...


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pp. 129-154


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pp. 155-157

E-ISBN-13: 9780791482742
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791465615
Print-ISBN-10: 0791465616

Page Count: 158
Publication Year: 2005