Workshop ASSC4, ULB, Thursday 29th of June, 9-12 a.m. : ´ Unity and Disunity in Bodily Awareness : Phenomenology and Neuroscience ª

(J. Cole, N. Depraz, S. Gallagher)



N. Depraz: Phenomenology of Normal Embodiment

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 : What does ´ normal ª embodiment mean ?

    The relativity of normality/anomalies in Husserl

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    Is there a ´ normal ª embodiment ?

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    Graduality of embodiment and the break of pathology

  • on the emotional level : from ease to uneasiness

  • on the spatial level : from well-located : being here to being there

  • on the temporal level : from synchronous to dissynchronous

  • on the intersubjective level : from being oneself to being altered

  • Emotion : from ease/uneasiness to dis-ease

  • Space : from being here/there to being nowhere

  • Time : from syn/dia-chronous to being out of time

  • Intersubjectivity : from identification/alteration to alienation

  • Radical (neurological or psychological) dis-orders/partial dis-orders : you leave your body (limit-case of dis-embodiment) whereas Husserl often says how much in the normal case of embodiment, you cannot put your body aside or out of yourself : Ich kann meinen Leib nicht weg he says in some places.

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     : The Body-problematic itself (cf. N. Depraz, La traduction de Leib…, 1998)

    1. The static distinction Körper/Leib (physical body/lived body//corps/chair)
    2. -Körper : physical objective body : object-body/Leib : lived experienced body (Husserl) : subject body (Merleau-Ponty) : two aspects or manifestations of the same reality. No duality (ontological or even epistemological), monism as no-duality, two modes of appearing of the body.

      -Körperlichkeit : structural morphology of the body : set of parts which corresponds to the different limbs and inner organs, afferent and efferent nerves, fibers, blood and air canals, but also to the different neural assemblies in the brain /Leiblichkeit : both lived and living dynamics of the body : lived flow of life as it is located or localisable in inner lived sensations.

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    3. Their intertwinnings
    4. -Still, such a first distinction remains unsatisfactory, insofar as there is no duality between the Körper-side and the Leib-side : it is the same body, in fact the recto (front) and the verso (back) of the same page. Every time you use these words, you tend to reify them in an ontological duality.

      -A body that would be only a Körper refers to natural lifeless bodies (physical or dead bodies : with the difficulty that dead bodies (cadavres) are called in german Leiche, that is keep a link with Leib : dead bodies are having-been-living bodies)/a body that would be only a Leib refers to a pure flow of life embodied in no individual body.

      - In that respect, a human body has both Leib and Körper components, which it shares with animals as living beings. Besides, a human body includes a certain ability to reflexion qua reduction, which makes of it a transcendental Leibkörper.

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    5. The genetic-generative lived space of Leib

    -as my lived body is exclusively mine, my Leib is a zero-point (Nullpunkt) – absolute here – for every spatially oriented object (physical bodies) and therefore generates physical measurable (and mathematical) spatiality without being itself spatial in this objectified or naturalized sense (cf Husserl's D-Manuscript about space 1917, Die Erde bewegt sich nicht). The lived bodily spatiality retains three main properties:

    1. It is a field of inner sensations, now called proprioceptions
    2. a functional I is receptively reigning over it (but not governing it)
    3. It is constituted of a repertoire of I can, as passive potentialities and habitualities.

    Husserl also calls such a subjective or qualified lived space ´ my sphere of ownness ª (Cart. Med, §44)).

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     : Bodily Awareness

      The different ways our body appears to us : a five-levelled typological dynamics of embodiment

    1. physical body
    2. living body
    3. lived body
    4. transcendental lived body
    5. transcendental sheer life-flow

    a.Physical body (Körper) : its features are the following : from the scientific physical third-person point of view : inert materiality and resistance ; from the Cartesian : substantiality, thingness ; from the Husserlian : empirical, naturalized ; from the Heideggerian : grounded/foundational. Continuity of empiricism

    b.Living body (leiblicher Körper) : same components : psycho-biological point of view. Main discontinuity : from living to lived, that is from object to subject

    c. Lived body (körperlicher Leib) : its features : animated/psychic body/psycho-physical unity/first-person perspective/intentionality/reflection. Continuity of phenomenology, either as phen. Psychology (c.) or as transcendental Phenomenology (d.)

    d. transcendental lived body (transcendental Leibkörper) : reflective conversion/epochè as radical suspension of beliefs. Continuity of transcendentality, either static (d.) or genetic (e.)

    e.Life-flow (Leib) : letting-go/affective receptivity/drive

    Such a typological dynamics reveals a main gap, from b. to c, which is the discontiniity from the empirical (physical living bodies) to the phenomenological (psychology or transcendentality) (lived transcendental bodies). Such a gap is not absolute but articulated through the common reference to life (living or lived bodies), which means that we have here to do with a dynamical gap. In that respect it is interesting to put such an articulated dynamic distinction between empirical living body and phenomenological lived body in relation with the distinction between body-scheme (defined through automaticity and the motor system) and body-image (as permeated through intentional consciousness) which comes through Merleau-Ponty from a more physiological context, and which Shaun Gallagher has precisely clarified (see below). A common point between both is the dynamics of the genesis/generativity (phen.) emergence (cog.) of consciousness (from living to lived, the latter implying a psychic or mental dimension, the former a sheer organic one ; from scheme to image,the latter involving a intentional conscious part, the former an unconscious dimension) ; still, I would like to point out two main differences : 1. The phenomenological paradig is a life-paradigm (living/lived : Leib) ; the physiological or cognitive one is not ; 2. What is meant with organicity (living body) or unconsciouss part (body-scheme) is maybe not exactly the same : both share the experience of mecanicity, be it said automaticy, motor system or habituality/potentialities. But the phenomenological approach insists on the idea of a lived (psychic) automaticity, as a kind of habitus or spontanously given passive synthesis with my bodily functioning, whereas the cognitive approach tends to identify the body-scheme with a sub-conscious or sub-personal functioning irreducible to any direct becoming aware of it.

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    1. The problem of a bodily self-consciousness
    2. If our bodily experience is permeated and constituted by such a dynamics of generative emergence of consciousness, what does it mean to speak of a ´ self-consciousness ª about such an immanent and operative bodily experience ?

      ´ Self-consciousness ª indicates either as generic move of our consciousness taking itself as a specific object of investigation, or corresponds to a reflexive act founded on prior intentional acts. In that respect, the bodily sensations (proprioceptions) and bodily intentions directed to the world (exteroperceptions) are lived indicators of our operating consciousness, but the latter does not need to be self-conscious.

    3. Is the notion of a self as a fixed pole of identity proprerly applied to bodily consciousness ?
    4. The other possibility is to ask for the relevance of a bodily or embodied self. To what extent our bodily experiences requires a kind of selfhood ? If yes, what is the specificity of our experience of ourself when we live through our body ?

      The notion of self is distinguished from the ego understood as a void pole of identity (the Kantian transcendental aperception) ; Husserl uses the Leibnizian word ´ monad ª in order to describe the concrete unity of self, understood as a genetic emergence of a kind of subject-identity rooted and purpoted by bodily habitualities and inner perceptions. For Marbach (Das Problem des Ich) and Ricœur (Soi-même comme un autre), who both take such a Husserlian view into account, the bodily-generating self is characterized by the image of the center. It is both a dynamical generation of selfhood and a centered structure of identity. Still, a question remains open : is the concept of ´ center ª relevant ?

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    5. The concept of bodily flow

    In that sense, it is interesting to see how Husserl himself questions in later Manuscripts about time the relevance of the idea of center or of pole (even as an embodied, sedimented, habitual one) for adequately describing the dynamics of our bodily experience/awareness.

    To that polar or center notion, he substitutes the idea of a flow, which implies of course an more radically open temporality, irreductible to any spatialized temporality (even the one called about by the horizon-problematic, the retention-protention intentionalities etc.). Needless to say, such a flowing consciousness is non-egoic, not object-polarized, not ruled by any synthesis of identification, but more precisely by synthesis of associations/dissociations : alterations. In the Analysis for passive synthesis, Husserl underlines the heteregeneous temporality of such a flow of the depth of my driven and receptive dynamics

    Such a radical embodied consciousness seems to have lost every sight of a possible objectification of oneself as a subject. Sensations are very difficult to localize and remain diffuse : I therefore use the word ´ diffusivity ª to characterize such a radical kinesthetif flowing of the lived-body. So we have to do with a level of consciousness which is not instanciable but more inclined to anonymity. The frontier between individuation through self and lose of individuation in anonymity might be a good clue to pick again the limit of normal embodiment with contrast to anomaly at this deeper stage.

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