The tendency to ignore or sometimes even to deny that one's left arm or leg is paralyzed was termed anosognosia, ("unaware of illness") by the French neurologist Francois Babinski, who first observed it clinically in 1908. In anosognosia, the patient is unaware of or denies a paralyzed limb, and in hemianosognosia, the patient behaves as if half the body were nonexistent. The "counterfeit" limb is a milder version of anosognosia, where the limb seems less than real. Oliver Sachs describes how his paralyzed leg had "vanished, taking its place with it...The leg had vanished taking its 'past' away with it. I could no longer remember having a leg." (See Oliver Sachs, A Leg to Stand On, New York, 1984,)Read More
Two English neurologists, Lord Russell Brain and Henry Head (!) coined the phrase "body image" for the internal image and memory of one's body in space and time. The body-image mediates the mind / body polarization. It requires input from both sides to be effective.Read More
In Antiquity, Body and Mind were not yet explicitly viewed as separate entities. This is reflected by the fact that the Greek word soma in Homeric verses referred to a corpse, not a living body. Neither the living body as an entity nor the Mind as an entity had a name. (see Bruno Snell, The Discovery of the Mind in Greek Philosophy and Literature.) But For Aristotle, thinking is the one specific activity of the human soul which is capable of separate and independent existence from any connection to the body.
In Love's Body, Norman O. Brown proposes an alternative to the dualism, established by the reality principle, between inside and outside, between the Lockean and Cartesian notions of mental events as distinct from external, material reality. He rejects the " simple location" of the body as a thing which is here in space and here in time. (see p. 154. see also ego and play)For Brown, the alternative to dualism is dialectics, that is to say, love.
Aristotle distinguished between the body and the soul. The latter referred not only to the principle of life, but to the form of a particular living body. Thus the soul is the organization of the body. (cf. organism) Aristotle rejected the doctrine of the Pythogoreans, according to which the soul can clothe itself in different bodies. (see clothing/garment ) Instead, a particular soul is the entelechy, or formative force of a particular body, and the individuality of a particular man. Thus every particular soul requires a connection to a particular organic whole. At the same time, he upheld a division between matter and form which describes, for example, the relation between the eye and sight. When the power of sight is absent, the eye is no longer an eye in the proper sense. After taking the position that "..there seems to be no case in which the soul can act or be acted on without involving the body," Aristotle goes on to suggest that thinking is the one specific activity of the human soul which is capable of separate and independent existence from any connection to the body. (see also subject )
The "body without organs" and the "organs-partial objects" are concepts that Deleuze and Guattari mobilize in opposition to the organism and its organization, in opposition to the functional specificity of organs, so as to release the decoded and deterritorialized flows of desire. The BwO is the "anorganism of the body" a bundle of virtual affects in a non-organic and non-organized multiplicity, "molecular" rather than "molar."Read More
In traditional rhetoric and neo-classic theory, language is the "dress" of thought, and figures are the " ornaments" of language, for the sake of the pleasurable emotion which distinguishes a poetic from a merely didactic discourse. (Abrams, Mirror and the Lamp, p.290)
Freud's use of the word Wunsch, which corresponds to 'wish' does not have the same connotations as the English word 'desire" or the French désir . His clearest elucidation of the concept is in the theory of dreams. Freud does not identify need with desire. Need can be satisfied through the action which procures the adequate object. (eg. food) Wishes, on the other hand, are governed by a relationship with signs, with memory-traces of excitation, and the desire to re-cathect mnemic images. The Freudian conception of desire refers above all to unconscious wishes, bound to indestructible infantile signs, organized as phantasy.Read More
In the Anti-Oedipus, subtitled Capitalism and Schizophrenia, volume 1, and first published in 1972, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari engaged in a radical critique of Freudianism. Like their contemporary, R.D. Laing, and like Wilhelm Reich before them, they linked psychic repression with social repression, and sought to recover the revolutionnary quality of desire.Read More
In proposing to examine the general economy of discourses on sex, Michel Foucault states his objective of defining "the regime of power - knowledge - pleasure that sustains the discourse on human sexuality in our part of the world." (p.11) For Foucault, "the 'economy' of discourses -- their intrinsic technology, the necessities of their operation, the tactics they emply, the effects of power which underlie them and which they transmit -- this, and not a system of representations, is what determines the essential features of what they have to say." (p.69)Read More
In Discipline and Punish, Foucault describes the modern "soul" as the real correlative of a certain technology of power over the body. In this vivid and powerful account, he documented the shift in the techniques of punishment away from the body , "from an art of unbearable sensations" to "an economy of suspended rights." For Foucault, it is not just an issue of dehumanization (as Heidegger saw it) but the transformation of the body and of subjectivities.
"On this reality reference, various concepts have been constructed and domains of analysis carved out: psyche, subjectivity, personality, consciousness, etc; on it have been built scientific techniques and discourses, and the moral claims of humanism." (p.30)
(see subject )
See the panopticon as the diagram of modern power. (see also biopower)
The history of work is a history of discipline.
Embodiment is the line between psychology and biology. One important feature of embodiment is that the interaction between the body and cognition is circular. Thus posture, facial expressions, or breathing rhythm are in a feedback loop with motor movement, mood, and cognition. I am bouncing along the street because I am happy but I am also happy because I am walking with a spring in my step.Read More
Georges Bataille defines eroticism as the "assenting to life up to the point of death". (Erotism, introduction) For Bataille, eroticism distinguishes man from the animals because it is a consciously intellectualized feeling that is possible only in a context where sexuality is repressed, or at least where erotic pleasure is independent of reproduction as an end. Bataille relates eroticism to a knowledge of evil and the inevitability of death, rather than simply an expression of joyful passion. He quotes de Sade's observation that "There is no better way to know death than to link it with some licentious image." While De Sade's "aberration" may be the logical extreme of this link, "In essence, the domain of eroticism is the domain of violence, of violation." (p. 16)Read More
Foucault credits Nietzche with formulating the notion of a history capable of being analyzed and recovered by a process known as genealogy. It provides a "history of the present" -- a history of the events that make possible struggles in the present such as the prisoners' movement, sexual liberation movements, etc. "Genealogy makes no presumptions about the metaphysical origins of things, their final teleology, the continuity or discontinuity of temporally contiguous elements, or the causal, explanatory connections between events." (Grosz, Volatile Bodies, p. 145)Read More
Albert Einstein described the motives for scientific study as a need to construct a satisfactory image of the world: "Man seeks to form for himself, in whatever manner is suitable for him, a simplified and lucid image of our world, and so to overcome the world of experience by striving to replace it to some extent by this image. This is what the painter does, and the poet, the speculative philosopher, the natural scientist, each in his own way. Into this image and its formation he places the center of gravity of his emotional life, in order to attain the peace and serenity he cannot find within the narrow confines of swirling personal experience." (Quoted in Steven J. Heims, The Cybernetic Group.)Read More
Incorporating practices are distinguished from inscribing practices. The transition from an oral culture to a literate culture is a transition from incorporating to inscribing practices.
The latter part of the twentieth century is marked, above all, by the confrontation between the human and the machine, by the repeated redefinitions of each in terms of the other. In the age of biopower and biotechnologies, cyborgentities proliferate, spawning hybrid terms like artificial life, machinic phylum, virtual realities, computer agents, and desiring machines.
For the architectural avant-gardes of the earlier part of the century, this confrontation was developed and formalized through, on the one hand, the abstraction and materialilty of De Stijl and Constructivism respectively, and on the other hand, the biomorphic forms and psychic associations of Surrealism.
On the one hand, the "phantom limb" -- a kind of mourning for a pre-Oedipal (i.e. pre-castrated) body -- whose painful reality is well documented. On the other hand, the "counterfeit" limb, paralyzed and "cut off" from perception and recognition -- "internal amputation." "How could a thing like that belong to me? I don't know where a thing like that belongs." -- the syndrome of anosognosia. To the nurse clearing away the breakfast: "Oh, and that arm there, take it away with the tray!" (Sachs, A Leg to Stand On, p. 57) For Sachs, this was a "neuro-existential" pathology where some features which could easily have been "hysterical" -- the characteristic dissociation and bland or joking indifference -- were, in those instances extremely organic.Read More
In Rewriting the Soul, Ian Hacking asks whether memory is the name of what once was called the soul. For Hacking, the Western moral tradition, encapsulated in the Delphic injunction to "know thyself," expresses a deeply rooted conviction that a self-knowledge is central to becoming a fully developed human being. In the modern area, this self-knowledge has increasingly focussed on issues of memory.Read More
Neoteny: the neural development that certain species, notably humans, continue to experience after birth. Man is born immature and helpless. He is not capable of locomotion or of any of the directed, volitional behavior indispensable for self-preservation. The survival of the neonate is predicated on devoted parental care.Read More
Here is where I can write in the first person. So this discursive space, at least, can be thought of as personal, as a place of private defintion, grudgingly aware as I may be that my private sphere is socially formed.
Although Phenomenology holds little intellectual appeal these days (its point of view seems naive, its universalizing subjectivity too suspect) I still feel that there should be a place for reporting and sifting through one's own experience. (getting their feel?)