Thinking Toes...? Proposing a Reflective Order of Embodied Self-Consciousness in the Aesthetic Subject

Proceedings of the European Society for Aesthetics 7:115-123 (2015)
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Philosophers investigating the experiences of the dancing subject (Sheets-Johnstone 1980, 2009, 2011, 2012; Parviainen 1998; Legrand 2007, 2013; Legrand & Ravn 2009; Montero 2013; Foultier & Roos 2013) unearth vast variations of embodied consciousness and cognition in performing body experts. The traditional phenomenological literature provides us with descriptions and definitions of reflective self-consciousness as well as of pre-reflective bodily absorption, but when it comes to the states of self-consciousness dance philosophers refer to as thinking in movement and a form of reflective consciousness at a bodily level – as well as to dancers’ re- ported experiences of being in a trance and yet hyper-aware – we are challenged in terms of terminology and precise descriptions. After empirical research on dancers’ experiences and studies of the above-mentioned philosophies of dance, aligning this material with Husserl, Zahavi and other phenomenologists’ descriptions of reflection and embodied self-consciousness, I find it plausible to acknowledge the existence of a third form of self- consciousness: embodied reflection, a reflective process experienced through and with the embodied and/or emotional self. In this article I aspire to capture the characteristics of this transcendence of the bodily self.

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