Proprioception and the Body Image

Brian O'Shaughnessy

in Consciousness and the World

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780199256723
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598135 | DOI:
Proprioception and the Body Image

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Proprioception is true perceiving. It and touch form a closely linked mutually dependent yet diverse pair. The puzzle whereby the demands upon the Attention of proprioception are no distraction in instrumental action is resoluble through the fact that the internal active content within an instrumental deed is a harmonious hierarchy. The ‘long‐term body image’ is a causally posited something whose content encompasses body shape, which is a necessary but insufficient condition of proprioception of body shape and posture. It is distinct from the ‘short‐term body image’, which designates the internal content of the proprioceptive perception of the body at any moment. The main philosophical problem consists in assembling a bona fide veridical concept of the long‐term image. Reasons for positing it begin with the common content in the short‐term images over lengthy periods. But they must be supplemented by the fact that bodily sensations do not represent body shape, being already dependent on body‐awareness for both individuation and position. Only through hypothesizing a long‐term image can one make sense of proprioception. Reasons are given for believing (1) the body image is a dispositional psychological phenomenon, (2) it is one and the same when explaining proprioception and sensation‐location, (3) it is an empirical postulate, and (4) even though it falls short of being an a priori necessity, it is as deeply embedded in animal existence as proprioception.

Keywords: awareness; bodily sensation; body image; instrumental action; proprioception; representation; touch

Chapter.  14294 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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