Dr. Sergio Romano, Psychology Psychotherapy, Psychodrama

The philosophy and the concept of body

O Certificate, Body, chair and corpus: the philosophy and the concept of body.

Interview with Mauro Carbone

by Claudio Rozzoni and Matteo Bianchetti

Could, to begin, explain by what path and through which authors (not only philosophers) the notion of the body has become

central in much of the twentieth century philosophy?

It is not the notion of the body generally understood to be central to the philosophy of Twentieth Century. Are, more specifically, the notions of "animated body" and "lived body" in terms offfermano experience of embodiment differs from the conception that can be summed up in notions "Body- object "or" body-representation ". The latter express themselves the conception thathas traditionally underlies the thinking of the West, contributing in a decisive way to characterize in sensory metaphysical: acaratterizzarlo that is what thought that places the truth beyond sensible things. The notions of "body-object" or "body-representation" in fact served to separate the body from the soul placing it in a subordinate position with respect to this. This applies both to the characterization Platonic body as prison of the soul, As for the body such as the Cartesian res extensive distinct from thinking thing.

In any case it was a Body I, while the twentieth century went rather pointing out a characterization of the body which body that are.

I would say that the latter trend, even before the twentieth century, is to be found in the World as Will and Representation di Schopenhauer, whose first edition dates back to 1819.

In fact, there ispart, note, by a characterization of the body as a representation within a wider characterization of the world as my representation. Then there is application: if the world is one of my representation, how it happens that I can pass this way I have to know, to get to make a deeper experience: that the very essence of the world not as representation, but how will? How can I pierce the veil of Maya representations coming to identify in the will the essence of the world? Schopenhauer's answer indicates your body in the "underground passage" (so he expresses) the world is understood as a representation of the world as

will. He points out that in appetite, in the tensions, we do experience sexual desire in our body that makes us go beyond its characterization in terms of "Representation", rivelandocelo rather an incarnation of the will. This revelation allows us then to go beyond the knowledge of the world as representation, coming, finally, to consider the will as the principle that constitutes, note, the essence of all reality.

This revelation of the body as a primary experience of the will then pierces the notion nicciana di “dionisiaco”: Cheaper by the principle of exaltation of feelings and instincts h and not toIf Nietzsche poses in a complementary relationship and conflict together with the '"Apollonian", principle harmony and balance. Precisely on account of the body and the consequent needto rehabilitate the Dionysian grafted then Nietzsche's polemic against Christianity and the invitation to Zarathustra to stay faithful to the earth, in the sense of remain faithful to the experience of corporeality.

This seems like one of the strands that help to focus the mind of the twentieth century the consideration of the body as animated or live. Its back, this trend will influence anothermade by psychoanalysis. Sure, in the early texts of Freud starts from a concept still mechanistic view of the body, in which the instinct is a sort of structure that, indeed mechanistically,affects the entire life of the individual. Subsequently, however, Freud proceeds to a progressive though perhaps never complete liberation from this conception, describing the relationship between sexualityand existence in such a way as to provide a characterization of embodiment convergent with that before indicated by the expression "body

Although much of the literature of the twentieth century, however, provides an account of tireless experience of the body as "animated" or "experienced". Just think of writers like Proust, in the body that indicates the keeper of the deepest memory, thatinvoluntary, or as Joyce, It is increasingly Valery, for which the consciousness of corporeality also gives rise to the experience obsession of the other, as it is another that my corporeal never ceases to postpone.

In the fifth of its Cartesian Meditations, thematizes the different and crucial notions of Koerper and Body. Could you explain what are they and what

importance and role play in the ontology of the "flesh" of Merleau-Ponty?

Koerper is the name that Husserl uses to designate precisely the "body-subject" or "corporappresentazione": the body as it occupies a certain space and thus satisfies certain measures, the body what res extensive, In short, reduced to the mere measurement of certain quantities (weight, width, length, etc.). It 'clear that such a definition applies to any body body, namely for aany body: for both human bodies and to those of other living beings, and even of things.

But just because that definition applies to any body, it does not respond to the peculiarities the experience of the body that are and why they are in the world. And 'the lived body according to thisexperience that Husserl calls Body. And it is the peculiarity of this experience that the fifth of its Cartesian Meditations he defines Singularity, term in German has the meaning of "property" in the sense of "ownership," but also of "peculiarities". This is the lived body as a unit of perception and movement (movement different from that of things, stress Merleau-Ponty, because their have moved, while I mi Muovo). This body lived in the essential unity of perception and movement makes, Husserl writes in § 28 the the third part of Crisis, l '"organ" that I have (and in this "place" is an echo of Singularity in the sense of "ownership") to act in the perceptual world. But it is clear that the act in World perception may also be exercised on my own body, Husserl had already stated in § 44 of Cartesian Meditations: I can feel my own hand by way of the other, a my eye by meansHand, etc.. In short, I l '"organ", but also l 'subject than in that paragraph Husserl called "my make and unmake". That is to say that they are Body always on the point of overthrow in Koerper, are "lived body" always on the verge of overthrowing me in "body-object". Ie they are the body which property (understood both as a possession and control both as peculiarities) is always on the verge of beinginverted objectification and therefore to escape as properties. In this sense, therefore, can not never really considered property, precisely because it is always imminent that I subtracted.

As Merleau-Ponty, in the last phase of his thought, in turn calls "reversibility" is precisely this dynamic of the impending reversal of roles and positions between the two considerations of body (come Koerper and eats Body) individuate as Husserl. Merleau-Ponty develops then the Husserl's characterization Body designating no longer in the expression "your body", that traditionally translated it as much in French as in English and Italian, but by the term chair, che in francese indica la carne viva.

Unlike the body, in fact, the meat can not be understood in never be said to be properly of someone, but it is indeed inhabited by a general - and thus a possibility of otherness - that as this makes inappropriable. At the point of pushing Merleau-Ponty even speak of "flesh of the world" to emphasize our tendency to live for the latter which Koerper always on the verge of Body, as evidenced by the phenomena of empathy, for example. Somehow, then, the experience of the body as peculiarities of each and therefore also as "organ" of which each may exercise possession and control is an, if we say that, second, in the sense that it is made possible by another experience. It is the experience of meat as inhabited by the possibility of alterity, that is, by the imminence of the overthrow of which I mentioned earlier: an experience that one of corporeality as ownership and control can never delete, and which is therefore constantly exposed. In short, the experience of embodiment as possession and control is characterized as always on the verge of being lost this possession and check.

The major French philosophers of today have not failed to intervene on issues of body and meat. How riassumebbe their positions?

I consider essentially three of these philosophers: Jean-Luc Nancy, Gilles Deleuze e Jacques Derrida, trying to show what can be the points of contact or otherwise the minimum common denominators of the criticism that they turn to the conception of corporeality that I have so far characterized and what are the points on which most insist instead to characterize their specific positions. Nancy, especially in Corpus (1992), but also in his other writings, has polemized against

phenomenological notion of "own body" which, however,, as mentioned before,, is a notion only

translation, so much so that the latest edition of the Italian Idea di Husserl, rather than with those words, makes

German Body with the expression "living body". However Nancy insisted especially in emphasizing

that the body is characterized by being not already "own", but inappropriable, as he wanted

creating highlight the expression former skin-tion, in which, within the word "exposure",

is introduced to the French term hide (which means skin) to indicate that the body, precisely in its

be skin, as such it is immediately exposed and therefore always liable to be subtracted

to my property, by virtue of that exposure outside that makes me inevitably


Not only. In addition to this character inappropriabilità, Nancy has on several occasions

stressed also that of no unit Body. In the characterization of the unitary body he sees

in fact an element of subordination to the Platonic conception of unity understood as Platonism or

primary. Subtract the body at conception Platonism therefore means, in his opinion, subtract it also

to its characterization as "organic body", ie "that has a beginning and an end", to use a

metaphors taken from Corpus. Da ciò, then here is the criticism of the notion of synesthesia, ie the idea

that the perception that we have in a sensory field (for example that of sight) can find

correspondence in another sensory field (for example in the sense of hearing), as happens when

we speak of "bright yellow", thereby expressing precisely immediate communication between visual data

and acoustic. Well, the experience of synesthesia, on which the phenomenology drew attention to its

to characterize the body as Body, is criticized by Nancy to try and steal the body to a

unitary concept that is judged to mold platonistico.

Against the concept of our bodies, understood as a unified organization of organs, si batte in

Deleuze also function antifenomenologica, that in this respect the expression recovers from Artaud

body without organs”. Deleuze need però che, by endorsing this expression, its objective is not

is to question the notion of organ, but precisely that of body, ie organization

unitary organs. At the same time, characterize the body as "body without organs" the need

also to criticize the notion of property Body, in the sense that a body without organs, states

Deleuze, you can never say properly my.

It is therefore interesting to note that, albeit through different arguments, Nancy E Deleuze

end up taking both to target these same two aspects of the characterization of the

corporeality: the property and the unit. In my opinion this is because both are convinced that, through

a characterization of the body as "own" and as "unitary", phenomenology has not

done nothing but move, as it were, subjectivity from a location outside the body to the body. According to

this assessment, then, phenomenology would be the latest chapter in a history of the notion

subject: the chapter that would update this story as, instead place the subject in a

scope spirituale comunque the extra-corporeal, would come to identify with the subjectivity of the corporeal

itself, thus obtaining, however, to save the notion of the subject. The phenomenology is then

taken as the critical target instead try to finally explode the notion of subject.

Now, seems to me that such an evaluation may have some basis in relation to

Husserl, in whose writings the use of the term "subject" is not problematized, although it is

problematized the notion. It seems to me much more difficult to argue that the phenomenology of

Merleau-Ponty can be considered a philosophy of subjectivity in an updated version.


As Derrida, the position that he expresses above all in his book entitled Touch,

Jean-Luc Nancy (2000) on the one hand recognizes the legitimacy of translating the Husserlian notion of Body come

"Meat" instead of "your body". On the other hand, he emphasizes, however, the danger of using the notion of

meat, because it seems to him a notion of the Christian connotations indelible (with all that

they can not help but bring) and judges hence also the expression "flesh of the

world ", used by Merleau-Ponty, just as a Christian figure.

I do not agree with this assessment. Until recently, I came to reflect

on the notion of flesh and I could say that I was rather an attempt to see us, Part says

Merleau-Ponty, to rethink what Plato thematizes as Chora. E 'known that in Timaeus the Chora

is the notion that assumes the role of mother, accepting the guiding principle that comes from the

world of ideas to generate copies that constitute the sensible reality: in this sense the Chora

appears third compared to the world of ideas on the one hand and on the other to the sensible world.

With the notion of meat, the mio parere, Merleau-Ponty tries to think of that Chora as a

notion that this is so "amorphous" (it is characterized precisely in Timaeus), but at the same time

"Informant": tale, then, you do not need a guiding principle to interact with external,

as occurs in Plato. That, notion of "third" would become only: single plot of differences

in constant differentiation from which spring the images that, when entering between them in

resonance, assume a universal dimension, ie produce its ideas. Ideas inseparable from

these images, therefore: sensitive ideas that, as such, can not sediment if not in the flesh

itself, where we can find and consider models of those images from which resonate

have instead produced.

In his recent book The meat and the voice, written in collaboration with the American David Michael

Levin, in addition to retrace the thesis of the French philosophers just mentioned, she claims that, in realtà, the

their criticism of the notion of "meat" misunderstand what Merleau-Ponty wanted to indicate with

this term. What is, in his opinion, that error of assessment?

The misunderstanding in my opinion is the basis of the criticisms of Nancy, Deleuze and Derrida can be

summarized in two points.

The first is to consider the notion of meat as a way to upgrade to

subject while preserving the character of ownership and unity. In other words, The first misunderstanding is

to see the definition of meat a way to make the body the last withdrawal of subjectivity.

The second is to interpret the notion frantendimento Merleau-Ponty survivors

in the sense of a survivor accomplished and therefore without waste, namely that shut itself off and

then outline a sort of confusion (to resume that Derrida uses the term mentioned in the book

before) that would ultimately undo any difference. For against, the model which I think Merleau-Ponty

think of when is the defining characteristic of meat is that of language which he meets him in the

linguistica di de Saussure, that language functions as interaction between different signs that

may give rise to a sense precisely because of their mutual difference. E 'therefore of this conception of

differences, as such, produce the identity based on the notion Merleau-Ponty meat, and

- Of course - his characterization of the reversibility.

Still The meat and the voice she and Professor Levin are supporting the possibility of developing an ethics

just starting from the notion of chair understood as a common horizon of all beings. Could

expose us his thoughts on this?

On this point my position and that of Levin are partially similar, ma in parte si

diversify. The discussion so far has made it possible to characterize the texture of meat which differences

which are woven the body that I have and those that other beings are, living or non-living. The

meat thus understood, therefore, opens the horizon of ethics and that of politics as horizons

being precisely in common of such bodies. Opens these horizons but, in my opinion, thereby not

founds a certain ethic or a given policy, in the sense that it gives positive indications towards

una certa the ethics una certa policy rather than to other. If we want to pick a formula I

used in The meat and the voice, we can say that the horizon of being-in-common is that of our

brotherhood, but my brother could be Cain. And if he can be, I could be myself. In this

the horizon sense of being-in-common in itself does not establish any positive ethical nor any political.

I stopped here about my reflection about. Instead Levin, in the part of the book by

lui scritta, continued its, emphasizing how, within that horizon inaugural

ethics that is the horizon of the flesh, there is a particular expression - the voice of the other - that in his

notice predisposes (although not predestined) to an ethic of correspondence. The voice of the, according to

Levin, in short, to prepare an indication favorable ethical. But it is precisely the predisposition,

not of Predestination. That is why the preparation, to be developed for an ethic of

correspondence, needs of individual choice. In this sense, the meat would be an original

exposure ethics, a già-of-always, which appears in the same time a not-yet: it then needs to

a conscious taken over by the choices of each individual to find their own development.

His last course (a.a. 2003/04) was dedicated to the theme of the subject and portrait painting.

Could you tell us how the twentieth-century painting was confronted with the problem of

representation of the body? What significant consonance can be detected between the reflection

contemporary philosophical on the body and its pictorial representation?

Based on what I have said in answer to the first question, in my opinion the twentieth-century painting

not characterized in terms of "representation of the body", why talk about representation of

body means to speak of the body as representation, that is to speak in their own terms,

it seems to me, the whole culture of the twentieth century - including art and philosophy course - helped to

definitely put in crisis.

To make up the themes of the course of the past academic year, We can therefore say that what

characterizes the twentieth-century portraiture in painting and is certainly the first step by the attention

for the face such as the attention to the body as a whole, But not for the body as a

"Body-representation", but, I would say, for the body as deformation. And 'one of the aspects that I

tried to investigate in my latest book, which is entitled precisely An unprecedented deformation.

The most important and significant twentieth-century painting experiences show that it has taken on

bodies right this deformation: we think of the Cubists and Futurists, ma anche a Francis Bacon. But

I believe that operation of deformation features in a peculiar sense not only the painting of the

XX Secolo, but his art in general. It seems to find a similar music in the exercise of

dissonance, that in some ways we could consider in music that the deformation has been in

painting, in the sense that both express the need of the art of the twentieth century bear witness to their

fidelity to the sensitive: to recall the invitation before reminded of Zarathustra, "I beg of you, brothers, be

faithful to the earth ".

It's as if the art of the twentieth century, through the exercises and the deformation of the dissonance,

he wanted to show his loyalty to the significant, I said, ie their loyalty to the experience

immediate that the body gives us of our encounter with the world and that makes this experience immediate

original source of all our knowledge around it.

If so we want to resume the classical characterization of metaphysics as sensitive as that,

as it appears and becomes, is misleading veil the truth of being and the ongoing, you can then

consider the fidelity twentieth century sensitive to a kind of ontological rehabilitation of the veil, the

understood not as what hides the truth, but rather as what the makes visible. In

this sense the canvas, the mio parere, is used, also designed and themed painting of the twentieth


I would add one last point. In reflecting on the body and texture of meat which

differences, the theme of sexual becomes an unavoidable issue. How does it work, in fact, the

sexualization of differences in the plot - the meat, fact - that we told draw the horizon

the nostro being-in-common and, as such, be the condition of possibility, although not the

Warranty, of each communication?


A closer look, this is precisely the problem that rises when Proust, by quoting di

Alfred de Vigny clearly that overturns the Platonic myth of Eros as tension between the reunification

and session, states that "the two sexes die each on their side”. According to this conception,

as Deleuze points out, each of the two sexes is unspeakable for the other: not only of the fact, but

also of principle. Just in this conception Deleuze indicates then the roots of jealousy second

Proust. But Merleau-Ponty has reflected on Proust's conception of jealousy. What we believe

I radici, if his notion of flesh seems to suggest the possibility of a difference for communication and

therefore also of the communication between the sexes? Even in his opinion there is still an unspeakable in

relationship between the sexes, or not? On these questions, I seem to extend the reflection

around the problems of the body and of the meat, will concentrate my course of the next academic year.

(source:Chora, year IV, n. 9, July 2004)

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