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)
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)
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.
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.
This much acclaimed book has emerged as neo-pragmatism's most significant contribution to contemporary aesthetics. By articulating a deeply embodied notion of aesthetic experience and the art of living, and by providing a compellingly rigorous defense of popular art—crowned by a pioneer study of hip hop—Richard Shusterman reorients aesthetics towards a fresher, more relevant, and socially progressive agenda. The second edition contains an introduction where Shusterman responds to his critics, and it concludes with an added chapter that formulates his novel notion (...) of somaesthetics. (shrink)
Thirteen original essays explore the qualities and challenges of urban life from a variety of disciplinary perspectives that illustrate the aesthetic, cultural, and political roles of bodies in the city streets.
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)
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.
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)
This paper originated as the keynote address at the conference “Aesthetics Today” organized by the Finnish Society of Aesthetics to mark its 40th anniversary and was delivered at the University of Helsinki on March 1, 2012. Written for that particular occasion the sense of an oral presentation has been maintained. Shusterman’s point of departure is the thesis that contemporary aesthetics can be characterized by a number of leading themes that mark a return to older aesthetic perspectives, after these perspectives have (...) been neglected in modern philosophical discussions. The paper briefly outlines and explores three of these themes whose increasing importance in current aesthetics can appeal to historical antecedents, namely: a focus on perception, the expansion of the aesthetic field beyond the philosophy of fine art, and the close connection of the aesthetic and the practical. After that, Shusterman formulates a fourth theme in aesthetics today which incorporates the first three and whose value for contemporary aesthetics he seeks to highlight, namely: the somatic, as exemplified by somaesthetics. (shrink)
Among the many features that made Michel Foucault a remarkable philosopher was a doubly bold initiative: to renew the ancient idea of philosophy as a special way of life, and to insist on its distinctly somatic and aesthetic expression. This paper examines Foucault as an exemplary but problematic pioneer in a field I call somaesthetics, a discipline that puts the body’s experience and artful refashioning back into the heart of philosophy as an art of living. A long dominant Platonist tradition, (...) intensified by recent centuries of Cartesianism and idealism, has blinded us to a crucial fact that was evident to much ancient and non-Western thought: since we live, think, and act through our bodies, their study, care, and improvement should be at the core of philosophy, especially when philosophy is conceived as a special way of life, a critical, disciplined care of the self. (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)
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)
Kohelet, that ancient postmodern who already remarked that all is vanity and there is nothing new under the sun, also insisted that there is a time for everything: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to break down and a time to build up, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. There is no mention of a time for interpretation, but surely there is one; and just as surely that time is (...) now. Our age is even more hermeneutic than it is postmodern, and the only meaningful question to be raised at this stage is whether there is ever a time when we refrain from interpreting. To answer affirmatively by citing dreamless sleep is to dodge the real issue, which is whether we can ever refrain from interpreting without thereby refraining from intelligent activity altogether. There is a host of holist hermeneuts who answer this firmly in the negative, maintaining that simply to perceive, read, understand or behave intelligently at all is already, and must always be, to interpret. They hold that whenever we experience anything with meaning, such meaningful experience always must be a case and product of interpretation. (shrink)
Underlying the stubborn hierarchical dichotomy between high and popular art, there is a far more basic contrast at work—art versus entertainment. Yet the complex network of language games deploying these concepts reveals that entertainment is not simply contrasted to art but often identified with art as an allied or subsuming category. The arts are themselves sometimes described as forms of entertainment. Because the concept of entertainment is deeply and complexly related to the concept of art, and because it is also (...) broader and older than the concept of popular art, its analysis can be instructive not only for the question of popular art but for aesthetics as a whole. This paper, which is guided by pragmatist insights, provides a genealogical analysis of the concept of entertainment and its relation to aesthetics that offers some lessons for contemporary art and theory. In providing an aesthetic defence of entertainment's multiples values, the paper re-examines two concepts—pleasure and functionality for life—that have been used to condemn entertainment for triviality and narrowness but that are central to its value and to the value of art. (shrink)
In responding to five symposium articles that discuss my book Thinking through the Body and my theories of somaesthetics and pragmatism, this essay elaborates two central methodological orientations that guide my philosophical research. The first is transactional experiential inquiry in which inquiry can develop new directions, aims, methods, and standards through the dynamic experiences acquired in the course of the inquiry’s pursuit and in which its transactional experiences involve research that transcends familiar disciplinary limits and conventions. The second principle involves (...) mitigating problematic dualisms by a strategy of inclusive disjunction. I deploy these principles in replying to the five commentaries. Besides clarifying issues in somaesthetics, my reply focuses on such topics as everyday aesthetics, eroticism, architecture, dance, Chinese philosophy, meliorism, and pragmatism. (shrink)