The notion of embodiment is another generative concept that comprises a robust inquiry among scholars and practitioners of many disciplines including Somatics, Phenomenology, contemporary Psychoanalysis, Cognitive Science, Evolutionary Biology, Meditation practices, Ecology. Motivating these crossovers is an attempt to stem the tide of the disembodied notion of Mind crafted during the 17th Century, which has become the notion that has shaped our major institutions of education, medicine, psychology, religion, and social change.
An unusually sane, though little known, community investigating this crossover is a group of thinkers inspired by the groundbreaking work of Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, who developed methods for the systematic investigation of the roots of knowing and value in direct bodily experience. There are certain people in this community who stand out as important in my own journeys of investigating the implications of bodily experience: Elizabeth Behnke, creator of The Study Project in the Phenomenology of the Body. She calls herself a barefoot phenomenologist, living in a hut with a cat and without a car, a jazz violinist, and daily practitioner of Husserlian meditations, Elizabeth has taken on the challenge outlined by Husserl to get back to the things themselves. She has created an extraordinary cross-over network between academic phenomenological studies and practitioners of methods that reveal various regions of bodily experience. She occasionally publishes a newsletter which features book reviews, outstanding essays, and ongoing discussions. Contact Elizabeth
Eugene Gendlin, the creator of Focusing, a method for helping people remain in their own experience of a problem, question, difficulty. . ., long enough so that fresh words come as solutions, instead of rushing to ready-made, ineffective formulations. Here are only two tastes of his many rich investigations of these topics
"The Primacy of the Body"
David Kleinberg Levin, author of a magisterial Talmudic series of texts on the profound implications of sorting through the intricacies of bodily experience:
The Body's Recollection of Being;
The Opening of Vision;
The Listening Self.
Edward Casey, author of several texts on little noticed regions of bodily experience: Getting Back Into Place; Imagining; Remembering; Earth-Mapping.
Susan Bordo, author of Unbearable Weight; The Male Body.
David Abram, ecological philosopher.
The Body and Culture
In the early years, Somatics was predominantly what I would call a Euro-Anglophone recovery movement from a dualistic approach to embodiment that characterized the 17th Century Enlightenment. Cartesian dualism was not only an idea which occupied philosophers. It became the substructure of modern medicine, psychology, education, sports, dance, and many other dimensions of Western culture. The 20th Century witnessed the beginnings of a weakening of that paradigm as a network of communications opened up among many cultures. Rich dialogues have begun to occur between Somatics and approaches to the body in older cultures: African, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Latin American. The late Rosemarie Freeney-Harding, Maggie Hodgson, the late Cree Elder and Psychologist Joseph Couture, and Haru Murakawa, are among the many who have actively engaged in expanding dialogues about the role of the body in human life beyond the lens of the West.