Paris, 12-13 December, 2014
Embodiment --having, being in, or being associated with a body-- is a feature of the existence of many entities, perhaps even of all entities. Why entities should find themselves in this condition has often been held to be a philosophical problem. This problem is seen as including, but also going beyond, the problem of body --that is, what a body is, and how, if at all, it differs from matter-- but also includes much else besides. On some understandings there may exist bodies, such as stones or asteroids, that are not the bodies of any particular subjects. To speak of embodiment by contrast is always to speak of a subject that finds itself variously inhabiting, or captaining, or being coextensive with, or even being imprisoned in, a body. The reasons, nature, and consequences of the embodiment of subjects as conceived in the long history of Western philosophy, with forays into religion, art, medicine, and other domains of culture, will be the focus of this workshop. We shall focus on the history of responses to a very narrow cluster of related questions (followed in parentheses by the planned chapters dealing with them):
- What is the historical and conceptual relationship between the idea of embodiment and the idea of subjecthood?
- Relatedly, what is the relationship of embodiment to being and to individuality? Is embodiment a necessary condition of being? Of being an individual?
- What are the theological dimensions of embodiment? To what extent has the concept of embodiment been deployed in the history of philosophy to contrast the created world with the state of existence enjoyed by God?
- What are the normative dimensions of theories of embodiment?
- To what extent is the problem of embodiment a distinctly Western preoccupation? Is it the result of a particular local and contingent history, or does it impose itself as a universal problem, wherever and whenever human beings begin to reflect on the conditions of their existence?
Sarah Byers, Boston College
Lesley-Anne Dyer, Baylor University
Brooke Holmes, Princeton University
Geoffrey Gorham, Macalester College
Philippe Huneman, IHPST, Paris
Helen Lang, Villanova University
Rafael Nájera, Brown University
Alison Peterman, Rochester University
Justin E. H. Smith, Université Paris Diderot
Charles Wolfe, Ghent University
With generous support from the Département Histoire et Philosophie des Sciences, and from the Laboratoire SPHERE, Université Paris Diderot.
Organized by Justin E. H. Smith