The Open Body

In Antonella Carassa, Francesca Morganti & Guiseppa Riva (eds.), Enacting Intersubjectivity: Paving the Way for a Dialogue Between Cognitive Science, Social Cognition, and Neuroscience. Universita Della Svizzera Italiana. pp. 109-128 (2009)
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In this paper we characterize the body as constitutively open. We fi rst consider the notion of bodily openness at the basic level of its organic constitution. This will provide us a framework relevant for the understanding of the body open to its intersubjective world. We argue that the notion of “bodily openness” captures a constitutive dimension of intersubjectivity. Generally speaking, there are two families of theories intending to characterize the constitutive relation between subjectivity and intersubjectivity: either the self is considered as being constituted prior to, and as a condition of, its potential relation to the outside world, or, contrastively, the self is considered as being constituted as a result of its relations with the outside world. Here, we pursue a conciliatory path, as we intend to show that these two positions are not necessarily in opposition to each other. But how can selfhood/subjectivity be both and at the same time primary and secondary, relative to otherness/ intersubjectivity? Stated thusly, the question seems to border on incoherence but our intention here is to reconsider it in a framework that allows for the dissolution of this opposition. In particular, we will characterize the relational autonomy of the self : neither fully enclosed “inside” nor fully dissolved in or determined by what’s “outside”, the bodily self is best characterized by its fundamental “openness”, which we will explore in a framework where autonomy and relationality are not contradictory but co-constitutive dimensions.

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Joel Krueger
University of Exeter


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