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The body is often contrasted unfavourably with the mind, and in Pythagorean, Indian and Christian traditions bodily residence is a kind of penance compared with the full joy of purely spiritual existence. However most 20th-century philosophy has acknowledged, at least in principle, that embodiment is a necessary condition of a mental life: our bodies are not just parts of the world external to our minds. A proper account of the nature of our perception of our own bodies, and the place of our bodies in perceiving other things, has been most resolutely pursued by phenomenologists, particularly by Merleau-Ponty (Phenomenology of Perception, 1962, Part 1). In this approach perception of the body and by means of the body is not passive reception of experience from a point of view ‘inside’ the head, but an active, living synthesis of movement and awareness of space: ‘experience of one's own body runs counter to the reflective procedure which detaches subject and object from each other.’

Subjects: Philosophy — Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.

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