Mapping the body: major conceptions of human embodiment from the West
Ayaş, Ahmet Murat
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Within the humanistic and social sciences of the western world, the human body, the state of being embodied, and the indelible interrelatedness of mind and the body have long been neglected in favour of the mind that is supposedly self-contained. The major reasons for that are claimed to be the philosophy of Cartesianism and mainstream Structuralism that foster the hegemony of dichotomous thought, which asserts that mind and the body are clearly distinct. Deconstructionist tools, however, have shown the impossibility of such an unequivocal distinction as well as pure totality and isolated presence. The main theme of this study is to map the major western conceptions that either implicitly or explicitly have developed notions of the body and embodiment which are in various fashions away from the constraints which have opposed the body to mind or which have considered the body as a closed, universal, nonhistorical biological entity. The notions that are developed in that way have the capacity to show that the body, as much as the psyche and the subject, is both cultural and historical product bearing peculiar natural qualities that position it as both an object and subject with powers of being affected and to affect others. The study concludes with a discussion on the significance and importance of the need to develop an adequate understanding of the body that eventually would enrich the ethical and political actions as well as the approach to art, design and architecture.