Living corpses

Ann Oakley

in Fracture

Published by Policy Press

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9781861349378
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302360 | DOI:
Living corpses

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The medical surveillance of bodies as entities divorced from human identity and experience is a part of a general cultural move to see bodies as passive objects and targets of power. Sensations, said Descartes, aren't thoughts. Feeling one's body, noticing one's location inside it, is part of bodily experience; it has nothing to do with identity, whose essence lies in abstracted thought. Also, he believed that it's through the pineal gland that the mind perceives and acts upon the body. The chapter discusses classical neurology and how this approach fits the body-as-machine model of Western medicine, and the unimportance of what Virginia Woolf called ‘the creature within’. This chapter argues that people may experience the world through their bodies, but their bodies alone can't tell us what the experience means.

Keywords: human identity; Descartes; classical neurology; Virginia Woolf; bodies; identity

Chapter.  7027 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Theory

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