The space between us: embodiment and intersubjectivity in Watsuji and Levinas

In Leah Kalmanson, Frank Garrett & Sarah Mattice (eds.), Levinas and Asian Thought. Duquesne University Press. pp. 53-78 (2013)
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Abstract
This essay brings Emmanuel Levinas and Watsuji Tetsurō into constructive philosophical engagement. Rather than focusing primarily on interpretation — admittedly an important dimension of comparative philosophical inquiry — my intention is to put their respective views to work, in tandem, and address the problem of the embodied social self.1 Both Watsuji and Levinas share important commonalities with respect to the embodied nature of intersubjectivity —commonalities that, moreover, put both thinkers in step with some of the concerns driving current treatments of social cognition in philosophy and cognitive science. They can make a fruitful contribution to this discussion by lending a phenomenologically informed critical perspective. Each in their own way challenges the internalist and cognitivist presuppositions informing the currently dominant “Theory of Mind” paradigm driving much social cognition research. Moreover, their respective views receive empirical support from a number of different sources.
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