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The Absent Body...

“Human experience is incarnated. I receive the surrounding world through my eyes, my ears, my hands. The structure of my perceptual organs shapes that which I apprehend. And it is via bodily means that I am capable of responding. My legs carry me towards a desired goal seen across the distance. My hands reach out to take up tools, reconstructing the natural surroundings into an abode uniquely situated to my body. My actions are motivated by emotions, needs, desires, that well up from a corporeal self… “

The opening paragraph of our June book.


Immediately my mind goes to the brain in the vat concept. If you’ve been a member of pain geeks for a while, you may remember the humanities piece we used in Nov. 2021, the Roald Dahl story called William and Mary, about a recent widow, who’s husbands brain lies in a vat.


What kind of experience could we have without a body? Without the very thing feeding our brain and shaping the way we view and interact with the world. Our body not only gives us access to the world it also shapes our perspective in terms of what we are afforded. Just the physical difference between being tall or short can affect so much of how the world presents itself and works around us.


As I wrap up the introduction of this book, I’m understanding that breaking down Cartesian dualism is a tall order. It is so engrained in our way of understanding ourselves and the world. That our minds and our bodies are distinct entities, separate. We have our thinking selves and our moving/acting selves…


I’m reflecting a on the part where Leder says “the body lived-from-within, as opposed to the “object body””. It seemed funny to me. I never really thought that much about insights that other people have of me, that I don’t have. But of course it’s true. You assume since it’s your body, that you’re perspective takes precedent, which in some ways is true. But, there are times when we can’t quite grasp/experience ourselves in ways that other’s can. We might notice this when we; seek psychological advice, are learning a new sport, are giving a presentation, or just having a conversation (hoping that we are sending the right non-verbal communication) for example.


These are just a few thoughts I’ve had since starting this book. I’m not quite grasping the whole concept yet, but I’m really curious to continue reading and learn more about how Leder will describe embodiment and how he will continue to dissect cartesian dualism!


How are you getting along with the book so far?


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