Is Proprioceptive Art Possible?

In Graham George Priest & Damon Young (eds.), Philosophy and the Martial Arts. New York: Routledge. pp. 101-116 (2014)
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I argue for the possibility of a proprioceptive art in addition to, for example, visual or auditory arts, where aspects of some martial arts will serve as examples of that art form. My argument is inspired by a thought of Ted Shawn’s, one of the pioneers of American modern dance: "Dance is the only art wherein we ourselves are the stuff in which it is made.” In a first step, I point out that in some practices of martial arts (in the paper I will introduce “hyongs” & “katas”), we are, too, the stuff these performances are made of. Second, I show that we, as martial arts practitioners, are not in the first place visual or auditorial observers (as common in painting or music or ballet) but introspective, proprioceptive perceivers of our bodies and their movements. (As a corollary we get that we are, in such a case, necessarily our exclusive audience.) In an third crucial step, I show that the martial arts practices referred to, hyongs & katas, and especially the proprioceptive aspects thereof, can indeed count as art. Thus, proprioceptive art is possible because some practices of some martial arts are actual existing examples of that art form.

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Markus Schrenk
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf


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