The Open Body

In Antonella Carassa, Francesca Morganti & Guiseppa Riva (eds.), Enacting Intersubjectivity: Paving the Way for a Dialogue Between Cognitive Science, Social Cognition, and Neuroscience. Universita Della Svizzera Italiana 109-128 (2009)
Abstract
In this paper we characterize the body as constitutively open. We fi rst consider the notion of bodily openness at the basic level of its organic constitution. This will provide us a framework relevant for the understanding of the body open to its intersubjective world. We argue that the notion of “bodily openness” captures a constitutive dimension of intersubjectivity. Generally speaking, there are two families of theories intending to characterize the constitutive relation between subjectivity and intersubjectivity: either the self is considered as being constituted prior to, and as a condition of, its potential relation to the outside world, or, contrastively, the self is considered as being constituted as a result of its relations with the outside world. Here, we pursue a conciliatory path, as we intend to show that these two positions are not necessarily in opposition to each other. But how can selfhood/subjectivity be both and at the same time primary and secondary, relative to otherness/ intersubjectivity? Stated thusly, the question seems to border on incoherence but our intention here is to reconsider it in a framework that allows for the dissolution of this opposition. In particular, we will characterize the relational autonomy of the self : neither fully enclosed “inside” nor fully dissolved in or determined by what’s “outside”, the bodily self is best characterized by its fundamental “openness”, which we will explore in a framework where autonomy and relationality are not contradictory but co-constitutive dimensions.
Keywords Embodiment  Self  Relational Autonomy  Enacted Intersubjectivity
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