Contemporary culture increasingly suffers from problems of attention, over-stimulation, and stress, and a variety of personal and social discontents generated by deceptive body images. This book argues that improved body consciousness can relieve these problems and enhance one's knowledge, performance, and pleasure. The body is our basic medium of perception and action, but focused attention to its feelings and movements has long been criticised as a damaging distraction that also ethically corrupts through self-absorption. In Body Consciousness, Richard Shusterman refutes such (...) charges by engaging the most influential twentieth-century somatic philosophers and incorporating insights from both Western and Asian disciplines of body-mind awareness. Rather than rehashing intractable ontological debates on the mind-body relation, Shusterman reorients study of this crucial nexus towards a more fruitful, pragmatic direction that reinforces important but neglected connections between philosophy of mind, ethics, politics, and the pervasive aesthetic dimensions of everyday life. (shrink)
The end of aesthetic experience -- Don't believe the hype -- The fine art of rap -- Affect and authenticity in country musicals -- The urban aesthetics of absence : pragmatist reflections in Berlin -- Beneath interpretation -- Somaesthetics and the body/media issue -- The somatic turn : care of the body in contemporary culture -- Multiculturalism and the art of living -- Genius and the paradox of self-styling.
In the current academic climate, teaching is often seen as secondary to research. Teaching Philosophy seeks to bring teaching philosophy higher on the academic agenda.An international team of contributors, all of whom share the view that philosophy is a subject that can transform students, offers practical guidance and advice for teachers of philosophy. The book suggests ways in which the teaching of philosophy at undergraduate level might be facilitated. Some of the essays place the emphasis on individual self discovery, others (...) focus on the wider political context, many offer practical ideas for enhancing the teaching of philosophy through exercises that engage students in often unconventional ways. The integration of students' views on teaching provides a necessary reminder that teaching is not a one-way process, but a project that will ultimately succeed through cooperation and a shared sense of achievement amongst participants. (shrink)
Applying contemporary pragmatism to the crucial question of how philosophy can help us live better, Shusterman develops his distinctive aesthetic model of philosophical living that includes politics, somatics, and ethnicity, while critically engaging the rival views of Dewey, Wittgenstein, and Foucault, as well as Rorty, Putnam, Goodman, Habermas, and Cavell.
Thinking through the body: educating for the humanities -- The body as background -- Self-knowledge and its discontents: from Socrates to somaesthetics -- Muscle memory and the somaesthetic pathologies of everyday life -- Somaesthetics in the philosophy classroom: a practical approach -- Somaesthetics and the limits of aesthetics -- Somaesthetics and Burke's sublime -- Pragmatism and cultural politics: from textualism to somaesthetics -- Body consciousness and performance -- Somaesthetics and architecture: a critical option -- Photography as performative process -- Asian (...) ars erotica and the question of sexual aesthetics -- Philosophy as awakened life : everyday aesthetics of embodiment in American transcendentalism and Japanese Zen practice -- Somatic style. (shrink)
This paper explains the discipline of somaesthetics, which emerges from pragmatism's concern with enhancing embodied experience and reconstructing the aesthetic in ways that make it more central to key philosophical concerns of knowledge, ethics, and politics. I then examine Beauvoir's complex treatment of the body in The Second Sex, assessing both her arguments that could support the pragmatic approach of somaesthetics but also those that challenge its bodily focus as a danger for feminism.
Although William James wrote no philosophical treatise on aesthetics, he can be seen as an important source for pragmatist aesthetics. This paper reconstructs James's aesthetic views from his diverse writings that demonstrate a keen regard for the arts and for the central, pervasive importance of the aesthetic dimension of experience, a dimension he saw as closely linked to the rational and practical. Special attention is given to his path-blazing The Principles of Psychology which precedes James's explicit pragmatist stage but contains (...) all the most essential themes of pragmatist aesthetics that Dewey would later formulate with much greater detail and argumentation in Art as Experience . This paper elucidates James's treatment of these themes, argues for his influence on Dewey's aesthetics, and suggests how the Jamesian approach exemplifies a promising convergence of aesthetics with philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Burke is an important exception to Nietzsche's claim that philosophical aesthetics ignores physiology and the role of practical interest. Grounded on the powerful interest of survival, Burke's theory of the sublime also offers a physiological explanation of our feelings of sublimity that explicitly defines certain conditions of our nerves as the ‘efficient cause’ of such feelings. While his general account of sublimity is widely appreciated, its somatic dimension has been dismissed as hopelessly misguided. In examining Burke's views in relation to (...) contemporary somaesthetics, cognitive psychology, and physiology, this paper shows that though Burke's somatic arguments can be criticized as overly simplistic and mechanistic, his recognition of the crucial bodily dimensions of aesthetic experience should be taken more seriously. In refining Burke's insight that bodily factors can help explain our aesthetic reactions, somaesthetics further urges that improved somatic understanding and performance can provide valuable means for enhancing our aesthetic response. (shrink)
In the ancient legend of Cupid and Psyche, Venus was jealous of Psyche’s beauty and plotted to punish her by binding her through love to a hideous creature that would appear once Cupid scratched Psyche with his arrow of desire while she slept, so that she would fall in love with the next thing she saw upon awakening. But when Cupid saw her beauty, he was so overwhelmed that he accidentally wounded himself with his own arrow and thus fell deeply (...) in love with her. The tale then describes how Venus unsuccessfully tried to keep Cupid and Psyche apart, which makes a nice allegory for the difficulty of separating the soul from desire. Though this mission may seem as undesirable as it is unlikely to achieve, we should .. (shrink)
This Critical Reader provides a new perspective on the work of France's foremost social theorist Pierre Bourdieu, by examining its philosophical import and promoting a fruitful dialogue between Bourdieu and philosophers in the English-speaking world. The contributors include leading philosophers who critically assess Bourdieu's philosophical theories and their significance from diverse philosophical perspectives to reveal which dimensions of his thought are the most useful for philosophy today. These discussions also raise important questions about the current institutional limits of philosophy and (...) how those limits may be overcome through a more robust alliance with the social sciences and the practical social world. The contributions cover Bourdieu's use of central figures in the Anglo-American philosophical tradition; his relationship to analytical philosophy and pragmatism through his concept of habitus; his position in twentieth-century continental philosophy; the political dimension of his work; the function and limits of his notion of "the field"; and the relation of his explanatory models to new directions in the philosophy of science. The book also discusses some of his most recent writing not yet translated into English, and it concludes with a chapter by Bourdieu in which he analyses the diverse structural problems and the transformations involved in importing intellectual ideas from one national field to another. The volume also offers a specially prepared comprehensive bibliography of Bourdieu's publications in French and English from 1958 to 1998. (shrink)
Abstract: This article explains the pragmatist project of somaesthetics in five different ways. First, it clarifies the notion of soma as encompassing both subjective intentionality and material objectivity in the world. Second, it highlights the social dimensions of somaesthetics, building on the basic insight that the soma is always shaped by the social and physical environments in which it is nested. Third, it examines the similarities and differences between somaesthetics and the Merleau-Ponty tradition of somatic phenomenology, while answering some of (...) the critical questions phenomenologists raise about the pragmatic value of reflective body consciousness. Fourth, in exploring the uses of reflective body consciousness, the article examines the continuity of learning over different levels and the different forms of evidence that can be used for empirical testing of the value of somatic reflection. It concludes with an overview of some of the main directions of future somaesthetic research. (shrink)
First coined in modernity, the aesthetic is a vague, polysemic and contested concept whose complexities arise from the variety of the ways it has been defined in the history of its theorization, but also in its formative prehistory in theories of art and beauty that preceded its modern coinage. After noting key points of that prehistory, the article traces three major modern tendencies in construing the aesthetic: as a special mode of sensory perception or experience that is relevant to life (...) in general; as a special faculty or exercise of taste focused on judgments of beauty and related qualities such as the sublime; and as a theory of fine art. The idea of aesthetic disinterestedness is critically examined, and contrasts between the concept of art in Western modernity and in pre-modern and Asian culture are also considered. (shrink)
This paper examines the ten-year history of somaesthetics – describing the field's origins and genealogical roots, explaining its terminology, analyzing its structure, tracing its reception, exploring its most interesting applications, and responding to the most important criticisms that have been directed at it. Somaesthetics, as the paper shows, emerges from the framework of my work in pragmatist aesthetics which sought to revive aesthetics by bringing art closer to life and bridging the presumed divide between the aesthetic and the practical while (...) also advocating an idea of ethics as an art of living. One way to bring more life to aesthetics is to emphasize the role of the living body in art and aesthetic experience. Another strategy of revival is to expand the field of aesthetics to make it more relevant to more people by including practices of somatic stylization and enhanced somatic perception (aisthesis). Somaesthetics, a discipline of both theory and practice, deploys these means of revival, and seems to have had some positive influence. It has been applied by diverse authors in many different fields – from performance art and computer design, to sports, feminist issues of identity, and the use of technological body enhancements in the art of living. The three main branches of somaesthetics are introduced, and the complex structure of the field is used in refuting some of the typical criticisms made against it. Somaesthetics is not a blanket apology for the dangerous excesses of our body culture, but rather a site for the ideological critique of the dominant somatic ideals. Its interest in the body is not a celebration of irrationality or the abandoning of critical reflection. (shrink)