A Puzzle about Bodies

Say my body is that finite vantage from which I am available to the sensible world, and the sensible world to me. The puzzle is that this vantage seems not to be an extensionless point on the world’s horizon, but rather a collection of such points distended within the world, each constituting its own boundary between my subjectivity and the world, and from which each of those other boundaries appears as object. That’s highly abstract. To illustrate: when I open my eyes, I take in the world as visual; I see a table over there, the chair I’m sitting in, and know each of these as objects; but I also see my hands and feet, and know them as objects as well, even though they’re equally points of my availability to the world as tangible — by way of my hands, I know the smooth surface of computer keys as objects, but equally the ductile protuberance I call a nose as object, from which I also take in the world as olfactory…and we could go on. My body, in short, is the place where my objectivity and subjectivity interpenetrate.

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2 Responses to A Puzzle about Bodies

  1. ” My body, in short, is the place where my objectivity and subjectivity interpenetrate.”

    Schopenhauer also seems to think so. I am just wondering if you know Schopenhauer’s thinking on this point?

  2. brendanwcase says:

    Ah, well done — I actually had Schopenhauer in mind in writing that. Here’s a representative quotation: “The body is given in two entirely different ways to the subject of knowledge, who becomes an individual only through his identity with it. It is given as an idea in intelligent perception, as an object among objects and subject to the laws of objects. And it is also given in quite a different way as that which is immediately known to every one, and is signified by the word will” (“World as Will and Idea,” § 18, p. 129-30). My dissertation is on Berkeley, who was a great influence on Schopenhauer (e.g., Ibid., § 2). Do you work much on Schopenhauer?

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