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Catching the ball: constructing the reciprocity of embodiment

McCardell, Elizabeth Eve (2001) Catching the ball: constructing the reciprocity of embodiment. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This interdisciplinary dissertation is a study of the ways in which we sensually embody and experience ow world. It is a metaphilosophical account that begins within orporeality; indeed, it is suggested that this is the place where the philosophic urge is argued, elaborated, and reflected upon.

While many studies of embodiment tend to focus upon the body as object, cultural artefact, or text for cultural inscription, the approach used in this dissertation is with the incarnation (the making flesh) of interaction in particular socio-physical milieux. The shift is thus from investigation of bodies to bodying, from noun form to transitive verb of incorporealization. This shift is felt necessary in order to better understand the so-called dualisms of traditional Western philosophic thought: mindbody, self-other, self-world, nature-culture, etc., and Tantric inspired Eastern philosophies of self-all relationality. It will be suggested, taking the lead from Leder (1990), that these apparent dualisms are not so much add-ons to philosophies of being, but arise in the experiential body itself.

This dissertation endeavours to rethink certain givens of everyday life, such as perception of time and space, place, enacted memory, having empathic feelings for others, and so on, from within bodily experience and occidental-oriental philosophies of being. Certain neurological disorders are examined for their way of deconstructing elements required to construct a meaningful incarnated life-world.

The process of embodiment is not only what the body is, but what it does.

My construction of what is necessary for embodiment studies therefore considers bodily praxes (cultural and individual), as well as the sensual, sensate experiences arising in the body.

The image of a ball game is evoked in various ways throughout the dissertation not only because it well describes the dense layers of interaction and an emergent sense of bodiliness, but it also illustrates reciprocity and situatedness.

This thesis is intended to contribute to the health sciences as well as cultural studies. It draws upon the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty, J. J. Gibson's ecological psychology, neurological studies and case histories, and the Eastern tradition of Tantrism in its Mahayanist Buddhist and Taoist forms.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy
Supervisor(s): Booth, Michael
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