Publication 4154

Vörös S. & Gaitsch P. (2016) The horizons of embodiment: Introduction to the special issue. Phainomena 25(98–99): 5–32. Fulltext at
In the past two decades, the notion of embodiment has been quickly gaining currency in cognitive science and philosophy of mind. Although virtually unknown at the beginning of the 1990's, it has now become, in the guise of embodied and enactive cognitive science, a serious contender against the classical (cognitivist) conceptions of mind, cognition, and consciousness. By drawing on the thematizations of the body found in Husserl and MerleauPonty, especially on the distinction between body as lived body (Leib) – a prereflective bodily awareness that shapes our experiential landscape –, and body as physical body (Körper) – a thematic experience of the body as an object –, it is maintained that mind and cognition are embodied in a twofold sense: (i) structurally, i.e., in the sense of being constituted by extracranial (neural, bodily, environmental, and social) processes, and (ii) phenomenologically, i.e., in the sense of including the experience of oneself as a bodily agent situated in the world. It is contended that this Janus-faced nature of corporeality, divided between “being a body” (Leibsein) and “having a body” (Körperhaben), may help undermine some of the age-old dualities (mind-body, interiorityexteriority, etc.) and thereby help anchor experience in materiality and materiality in experience. The main focus of the volume at hand is to analyze, evaluate, and critically reflect upon, what might be termed “horizons of embodiment.” First, it purports to examine the scope and applicability of the notion of embodiment in relation to not only human, but also animal, vegetative, and perhaps even artificial life. Specifically, it aims to investigate to what extent, if at all, different construals of embodiment might contribute to a better understanding of different life forms – of their unique, if tentative, modes of being, cognizing, and experiencing. Second, it purports to examine, from both practical and theoretical perspectives, possibilities for a “fusion of horizons” (Horizontverschmelzung) between structural and phenomenological approaches to embodiment: How can objective (third-person) and experiential (first-person) aspects of corporeality be combined so as to provide efficient means for the study of the living? Both perspectives wish to enrich and broaden our grasp of different grades, modes and dimensions of embodiment, bringing forth their tentative limitations and paving ways for their overcoming.

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