the felt body ('Leib')

  • Hermann Schmitz (Author)

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The uniquely German expression ‘Leib’, which in everyday language refers to the felt or living body, has gained importance in modern philosophy due to a dissatisfaction with the traditional bifurcation of the human being into body and soul (alternately mind, or mental contents). On this traditional view, the soul is conceived as a separate inner sphere that is connected to the world only by the body. While the body is plain to view to the conscious subject, it is nonetheless separated from it as an object of observation, reflection and use. Neither of these aspects is suited to explaining the immediate affectedness with which reality is encountered by human beings – the soul is too remote and encapsulated; the body is too distant. In the human being we seek an intersection for that which immediately takes hold of one, in particular also spatially, and for this we need the felt body, which in embodied affectedness is open to that which takes hold of and forces the human being to become aware of itself, be it purely by feeling or also aided by reflection. This is so because it is hit by something that throws it back upon itself. For this reason, the identification of the human being with the felt body is characteristic of the modern philosophy of embodiment, because it is through the felt body that one becomes aware of oneself.


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