Digestion, Habit, and Being at Home: Hegel and the Gut as Ambiguous Other

PhaenEx 11 (2):1-22 (2016)
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Abstract
Recent work in the philosophy of biology argues that we must rethink the biological individual beyond the boundary of the species, given that a key part of our essential functioning is carried out by the bacteria in our intestines in a way that challenges any strictly genetic account of what is involved for the biological human. The gut is a kind of ambiguous other within our understanding of ourselves, particularly when we also consider the status of gastro-intestinal disorders. Hegel offers us theoretical tools to describe and understand our relationship to our gut. His description of our selves as continually mediated through otherness is strikingly compatible with the kind of structure contemporary biology presents us with. His accounts of digestion and habit, contextualized by his logic, help point toward an understanding of selfhood as porous and yet still capable of being sufficiently unified for us to make sense of ourselves, one which allows us to acknowledge otherness within us while still having enough unity for agency.
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Archival date: 2016-12-29
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2016-12-29

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