In his 1953 lectures at the College de France, Merleau-Ponty dedicated much effort to further developing his idea of embodied subject and interpreted fresh sources that he did not use in Phenomenology of Perception. Notably, he studied more in depth the neurological notion of "bodyschema". According to Merleau-Ponty, the bodyschema is a practical diagram of our relationships to the world, an action-based norm with reference to which things make sense. Merleau-Ponty more precisely tried to (...) describe the fundamentally dynamic unity of the body, i.e. the fact there are various possibilities how the practical "diagram" of bodyschema could be de-differentiated (in pathology) or further refined (via cognitive and cultural superstructures, symbolic systems). This chapter summarises Merleau-Ponty's interpretation of the notion, while contrasting it to the more traditional understanding of the body in phenomenology and recent philosophical texts dealing with bodyschema. (shrink)
The distinction between the bodyschema and the body image has become the stock in trade of much recent work in cognitive neuroscience and philosophy. Yet little is known about the interactions between these two types of body representations. We need to account not only for their dissociations in rare cases, but also for their convergence most of the time. Indeed in our everyday life the body we perceive does not conflict with the body (...) we act with. Are the body image and the bodyschema then somehow reshaping each other or are they relatively independent and do they only happen to be congruent? On the basis of the study of bodily hallucinations, we consider which model can best account for the bodyschema/body image interactions. (shrink)
De Vignemont argues that the sense of ownership comes from the localization of bodily sensation on a map of the body that is part of the bodyschema. This model should be taken as a model of the sense of embodiment. I argue that the bodyschema lacks the theoretical resources needed to explain this phenomenology. Furthermore, there is some reason to think that a deficient sense of embodiment is not associated with a deficient (...) class='Hi'>bodyschema. The data de Vignemont uses to argue that the body image does not underlie the sense of embodiment does not rule out the possibility that part of the body image I call 'offline representations' underlies the sense of embodiment. An alternative model of the sense of embodiment in terms of offline representations of the body is presented. (shrink)
Body integrity identity disorder (BIID), formerly also known as apotemnophilia, is characterized by a desire for amputation of a healthy limb and is claimed to straddle or to even blur the boundary between psychiatry and neurology. The neurological line of approach, however, is a recent one, and is accompanied or preceded by psychodynamical, behavioural, philosophical, and psychiatric approaches and hypotheses. Next to its confusing history in which the disorder itself has no fixed identity and could not be classified under (...) a specific discipline, its sexual component has been an issue of unclarity and controversy, and its assessment a criterion for distinguishing BIID from apotemnophilia, a paraphilia. Scholars referring to the lived body—a phenomenon primarily discussed in the phenomenological tradition in philosophy—seem willing to exclude the sexual component as inessential, whereas other authors notice important similarities with gender identity disorder or transsexualism, and thus precisely focus attention on the sexual component. This contribution outlines the history of BIID highlighting the vicissitudes of its sexual component, and questions the justification for distinguishing BIID from apotemnophilia and thus for omitting the sexual component as essential. Second, we explain a hardly discussed concept from Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception (1945a), the sexual schema, and investigate how the sexual schema could function in interaction with the body image in an interpretation of BIID which starts from the lived body while giving the sexual component its due. (shrink)
There seems to be no dimension of bodily awareness that cannot be disrupted. To account for such variety, there is a growing consensus that there are at least two distinct types of body representation that can be impaired, the bodyschema and the body image. However, the definition of these notions is often unclear. The notion of body image has attracted most controversy because of its lack of unifying positive definition. The notion of body (...)schema, onto which there seems to be a more widespread agreement, also covers a variety of sensorimotor representations. Here, I provide a conceptual analysis of the bodyschema contrasting it with the body image as well as assess whether the bodyschema can be specifically impaired, while other types of body representation are preserved; and the bodyschema obeys principles that are different from those that apply to other types of body representation. (shrink)
In a majority of situations the normal adult maintains posture or moves without consciously monitoring motor activity. Posture and movement are usually close to automatic; they tend to take care of themselves, outside of attentive regard. One's body, in such cases, effaces itself as one is geared into a particular intentional goal. This effacement is possible because of the normal functioning of a bodyschema. Bodyschema can be defined as a system of preconscious, subpersonal (...) processes that play a dynamic role in governing posture and movement (Head, 1920). There is an important and often overlooked conceptual difference between the subpersonal bodyschema and what is usually called body image . The latter is most often defined as a conscious idea or mental representation that one has of one's own body (for example, Adame, Radell, Johnson, and Cole, 1991; Gardner and Moncrieff, 1988; Schilder, 1935). Despite the conceptual difference many researchers use the terms interchangeably, leading to both a terminological and conceptual confusion. (shrink)
Dijkerman & de Haan (D&dH) argue that body image and bodyschema form parts of different and dissociable somatosensory streams. We agree in general, but believe that more emphasis should be placed on interactions between these two streams. We illustrate this point with evidence from the rubber-hand illusion (RHI) – an illusion of body image, which depends critically upon bodyschema.
This paper comprises a feminist phenomenological exploration of women’s experiences with breast augmentation and breast reduction. Situating the results of semi-structured interviews in the context of bodyschema, this study discloses how women perceive, think, feel and respond to bodily change created by elective breast surgery. Women’s narratives express that breast augmentation and reduction shifted their conception of the lived body and its possibilities by provoking bodily reorientations and adjustments as well as changes in bodily sensations. In (...) contrast with body image studies that emphasize elective breast surgery as transforming attitudes towards the body, this phenomenological investigation reveals that elective breast surgery also galvanizes a relearning of the world and a rearticulation of embodied doing. (shrink)
Our commentary addresses two issues that are not developed enough in the target article. First, the model does not clearly address the distinction among external objects, external body parts, and internal bodies. Second, the authors could have discussed further the role of bodyschema with regard to its dynamic character, and its role in perspective and in imitation.
Dijkerman & de Haan (D&dH) propose a somatosensory perceptual pathway that informs a consciously accessible body image, and an action pathway that provides information to a bodyschema, which is not consciously accessible. We argue that the bodyschema may become accessible to consciousness in some circumstances, possibly resulting from cross talk, but that this may be detrimental to skilled movement production.
Grush's emulator model appears to be consistent with the idea of a bodyschema, that is, a detailed mental representation of the body, its structure, and movement in relation to the environment. If the emulator is equivalent to a bodyschema, then the next step will be to specify how the emulator accounts for neuropsychological and developmental phenomena that have long been hypothesized to involve the bodyschema.
The objective of the research presented in this paper was to investigate whether an association existed between the activation of the bodyschema and reaching adulthood among people in late adolescence. Three activities that are known to enjoy popularity among young people were analysed, namely: dancing, playing computer games that require motor involvement, and playing computer games of an educational and entertaining character. It was assumed that the chosen forms of activity correspond to three levels of activation of (...) the bodyschema. The following research methods have been applied to this study: the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the Defence Style Questionnaire, and the Bodily Self Representation Questionnaire. The study has proven that the activation of bodyschema through dance is significantly related to high self-esteem and the use of mainly mature and neurotic defence mechanisms in threat situations. (shrink)
This paper addresses a number of issues concerning both the status of phenomenology in the work of one of its classical expositors, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and the general relation between theoretical models and evidence in phenomenological accounts. In so doing, I will attempt to explain Merleau-Ponty’s departure from classical transcendental accounts in Husserl’s thought and why Merleau-Ponty increasingly elaborated on them through aesthetic rationality. The result is a phenomenology that no longer understands itself as foundational and no longer understands itself in (...) the strict opposition of intuition and concept. Rather both emerge from an operative experience generated in the exchange between situated embodied knowing and historical knowledge. (shrink)
How the Body Shapes the Mind is an interdisciplinary work that addresses philosophical questions by appealing to evidence found in experimental psychology, neuroscience, studies of pathologies, and developmental psychology. There is a growing consensus across these disciplines that the contribution of embodiment to cognition is inescapable. Because this insight has been developed across a variety of disciplines, however, there is still a need to develop a common vocabulary that is capable of integrating discussions of brain mechanisms in neuroscience, behavioural (...) expressions in psychology, design concerns in artificial intelligence and robotics, and debates about embodied experience in the phenomenology and philosophy of mind. Shaun Gallagher's book aims to contribute to the formulation of that common vocabulary and to develop a conceptual framework that will avoid both the overly reductionistic approaches that explain everything in terms of bottom-up neuronal mechanisms, and inflationistic approaches that explain everything in terms of Cartesian, top-down cognitive states. Gallagher pursues two basic sets of questions. The first set consists of questions about the phenomenal aspects of the structure of experience, and specifically the relatively regular and constant features that we find in the content of our experience. If throughout conscious experience there is a constant reference to one's own body, even if this is a recessive or marginal awareness, then that reference constitutes a structural feature of the phenomenal field of consciousness, part of a framework that is likely to determine or influence all other aspects of experience. The second set of questions concerns aspects of the structure of experience that are more hidden, those that may be more difficult to get at because they happen before we know it. They do not normally enter into the content of experience in an explicit way, and are often inaccessible to reflective consciousness. To what extent, and in what ways, are consciousness and cognitive processes, which include experiences related to perception, memory, imagination, belief, judgement, and so forth, shaped or structured by the fact that they are embodied in this way? (shrink)
Two studies investigated the development of infants' visual preferences for the human body shape. In Study 1, infants of 12,15 and 18 months were tested in a standard preferential looking experiment, in which they were shown paired line drawings of typical and scrambled bodies. Results indicated that the 18-month-olds had a reliable preference for the scrambled body shapes over typical body shapes, while the younger infants did not show differential responding. In Study 2, 12- and 18-month-olds were (...) tested with the same procedure, except that the typical and scrambled body stimuli were photographic images. The results of Study 2 again indicated that only the 18-month-olds had a reliable preference for the scrambled body shapes. This finding contrasts sharply with infants' precocious preferences for human faces, suggesting that infants' learning about human faces and human bodies follow different developmental trajectories. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. (shrink)
Abstract: What grounds the experience of our body as our own? Can we rationally doubt that this is our own body when we feel sensations in it? This article shows how recent empirical evidence can shed light on issues on the body and the self, such as the grounds of the sense of body ownership and the immunity to error through misidentification of bodily self-ascriptions. In particular, it discusses how bodily illusions (e.g., the Rubber Hand Illusion), (...) bodily disruptions (e.g., somatoparaphrenia), and the multimodal nature of bodily self-knowledge challenge a classic view of ownership and immunity that puts bodily sensations at its core. (shrink)
According to widespread opinion, the meaning of body part terms is determined by salient discontinuities in the visual image; such that hands, feet, arms, and legs, are natural parts. If so, one would expect these parts to have distinct names which correspond in meaning across languages. To test this proposal, we compared three unrelated languages—Dutch, Japanese, and Indonesian—and found both naming systems and boundaries of even basic body part terms display variation across languages. Bottom-up cues alone cannot explain (...) natural language semantic systems; there simply is not a one-to-one mapping of the body semantic system to the body structural description. Although body parts are flexibly construed across languages, body parts semantics are, nevertheless, constrained by non-linguistic representations in the body structural description, suggesting these are necessary, although not sufficient, in accounting for aspects of the body lexicon. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to develop and defend an Attentional View of bodily awareness, on which attention is necessary for bodily awareness. The original formulation of the Attentional View is due to Marcel Kinsbourne. First, I will show that the Attentional View of bodily awareness as formulated by Kinsbourne is superior to other accounts in the literature for characterizing the relationship between attention and bodily awareness. Kinsbourne’s account is the only account in the literature so far which can (...) accommodate key neurological diseases such as personal neglect. Second, when I consider Kinsbourne’s view in more detail, I will argue that Kinsbourne’s Attentional View faces problems because it is too reductive. Kinsbourne deviates from the standard taxonomy on which there is a bodyschema and a body image. Instead he reduces the body image to the neural representation of the body in the somatosensory cortex, the bodyschema and attentional shifts. I will present two challenges to Kinsbourne’s view which demonstrate that Kinsbourne’s reduction of the body image is unsuccessful. Finally, I will present a revised version of the Attentional View that is both empirically adequate and philosophically satisfactory. (shrink)
Here, we assess the usefulness of first-person methods for the study of embodiment during the rubber hand illusion (RHI). Participants observed a rubber hand being stroked synchronously and asynchronously with their concealed hand after which they made proprioceptive judgments about the location of their hand and completed a self-report questionnaire. A randomly selected cohort was further interviewed during the illusion and their transcripts analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Results showed that the IPA group experienced a more intense embodied experience (...) during the RHI, measured by proprioceptive distortion and self-report. IPA revealed four main themes of embodied experience: recalibration of the bodyschema; violation of the bodyschema; multisensory integration; and illusory experience over time. The report of agency was a significant predictor of proprioceptive distortion. This study shows how first-person methodologies can be empirically rigorous and how the introspective interview provides a rich, detailed account of embodied experience. (shrink)
The phenomenological point of view of the body is usually appreciated for having introduced the notion of the ‘lived’ body. We cannot merely analyze and explain the body as one of the elements of the world of objects. We must also describe it, for example, as the center of our perspective on the world, the place where our sensing is ‘localized’, the agens which directly executes our intentions. However, in Husserl, the idea of the body as (...) lived primarily complements his objectivism: the body (Leib) is an objective and mental reality, a ‘double unity’, as he writes. In contrast, Merleau-Ponty’s later considerations of the body in Phenomenology of Perception tend to the idea of a circular relationship between the objective and subjective dimensions of the body – between the objective and the lived. One of the means to overcome the idea of the body as a site of the correlation between two opposite and complementary realms is, for Merleau-Ponty, the philosophical interpretation of an early neurological notion of ‘bodyschema’. Bodyschema is neither an idea nor a physiological-physical fact, it is rather a practical diagram of our relationships with the world, an action-based norm in reference to which things make sense. In the recently published preparatory notes for his 1953 courses, Merleau-Ponty dedicates much effort to further developing the notion of bodyschema, and interprets fresh sources that he did not use in Phenomenology of Perception. Notably, he studies various possibilities of how this practical ‘diagram’ can be de-differentiated (pathology) or further refined (cognitive and cultural superstructures, symbolic systems), which shows the fundamentally dynamic unity of the body. This paper summarizes the basic elements of Merleau-Ponty’s 1953 renewed philosophical interpretation of the notion of bodyschema, while contrasting it to the more traditional understanding of the body in phenomenology and in recent philosophical texts dealing with bodyschema. (shrink)
Jenny Saville is a leading contemporary painter of female nudes. This paper explores her work in light of theories of gender and embodied agency. Recent work on the phenomenology of embodiment draws a distinction between the body image and the bodyschema. The body image is your representation of your own body, including your visual image of it and your emotional attitudes towards it. The bodyschema is comprised of your proprioceptive knowledge, your (...) corporeally encoded memories, and your corporeal proficiency with respect to various environments and activities. Saville is concerned with body image issues, and I discuss how she reconfigures representational practices with respect to feminine body images. However, the most exciting potential for feminist analysis of the state of the female nude derives from the concept of the bodyschema, for this concept endows the human body with subjectivity and agency. My key question, then, is by what pictorial means and to what extent Saville succeeds in representing agentic womanhood. I argue that interpreting Saville’s paintings from the standpoint of the bodyschema demonstrates the radicality of her remaking of the female nude and the rapport between her imagery and feminist values. (shrink)
This article reintroduces a phenomenological experiment designed in the early 1960’s, The Alien-Hand Experiment (TAHE), and it illustrates how phenomena denoted by theoretical concepts like body image, bodyschema and agency can be studied via the experiment. An analysis of the verbal reports from 26 subjects who participated in TAHE is presented in this article. Subjects were divided into three groups: A group of non-bulimic men, a group of non-bulimic women and a group of female bulimics. The (...) group of (female) bulimics was studied due to the widely spread notion that subjects suffering from eating disorders have a distorted body image. TAHE can be thought of as both a qualitative and quantitative way to study the phenomena arising when the normal relationship between motor behaviour and body experience is disrupted. The present investigation is not an operational definition of bodyschema and body image, but the two concepts offer a useful interpretive framework. (shrink)
In his initial lecture course at the Collège de France, Merleau-Ponty attempted to develop a new analysis of rational thought in order to clarify its link with corporeal-perceptive life. The formulation of thought in language as the most elaborate human activity of expression explicitly takes over what we already observe in perception as the implicit and mutual reference between the perceiving subject and that which is perceived.The article reconstructs Merleau-Ponty’s argumentation, based on his preparatory notes for the lectures, and provides (...) an interpretation of the key concepts of “expression” and “bodyschema”. [In Czech Language]. (shrink)
In this article, the notion of re-embodiment is developed to include the ways that rearrangement and renewals of bodyschema take place in rehabilitation. More specifically, the embodied learning process of acquiring wheelchair skills serves as a starting point for fleshing out a phenomenological understanding of incorporation of assistive devices. By drawing on the work of Merleau-Ponty, the reciprocal relation between acquisition habits and incorporation of instruments is explored in relation to the learning of wheelchair skills. On the (...) basis of this, it is argued that through learning to manoeuvre the wheelchair, a reversible relation between is established between the moving body-subject and the wheelchair. In this sense, re-embodiment involves a gestalt switch from body image to bodyschema. (shrink)