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Embodiments

From the Body to the Body Politic

James R. Mensch (author) Anthony J. Steinbock (series editor)

ISBN: 9780810125605

Publication Date: Aug 2009

Format: Hardback

Also available as: Paperback  

How does the body politic reflect the nature of human embodiment? This book uses Merleau-Ponty's concept of 'intertwining' - the presence of one's self in the world and of the world in one's self - to understand the ideas that define political life.
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How does the body politic reflect the nature of human embodiment? To pursue this question in a new and productive way, James Mensch employs a methodology consistent with the fact of our embodiment; he uses Merleau-Ponty's concept of 'intertwining' - the presence of one's self in the world and of the world in one's self - to understand the ideas that define political life. Mensch begins his inquiry by developing a philosophical anthropology based on this concept. He then applies the results of his investigation to the relations of power, authority, freedom, and sovereignty in public life. This involves confronting a line of interpretation, stretching from Hobbes to Agamben, which sees violence as both initiating and preserving the social contract. To contest this interpretation, Mensch argues against its presupposition, which is to equate freedom with sovereignty over others. He does so by understanding political freedom in terms of embodiment - in particular, in terms of the finitude and interdependence that our embodiment entails. Freedom, conceived in these terms, is understood as the gift of others. As a function of our dependence on others, it cannot exist apart from them. To show how public space and civil society presuppose this interdependence is the singular accomplishment of Embodiments. It accomplishes a phenomenological grounding for a new type of political philosophy.
Pages 256
Date Published 30 Aug 2009
Publisher Northwestern University Press
Series Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy
Subject/s Phenomenology & Existentialism  
Acknowledgments; Introduction; I. The Intertwining: The Recursion of the Seer and the Seen; II. Artificial Intelligence and the Phenomenology of Flesh; III. Aesthetic Education and the Project of Being Human; IV. The Intertwining of Incommensurables: Yann Martel's Life of Pi; V. Flesh and the Limits of Self-Making; VI. Violence and Embodiment; VII. Excessive Presence and the Image; VIII. Politics and Freedom; IX. Sovereignty and Alterity; X. Political Violence; XI. Public Space; XII. Sustaining the Other: Tolerance as a Positive Ideal; XIII. Forgiveness and Incarnation; End Notes; Bibliography; Index of Names.
James Mensch is a professor of philosophy at Saint Francis Xavier University in Canada. He is the author of nine books that range in content from Husserlian phenomenology to theology to the problem of otherness. He lives in Nova Scotia.

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