2010-2013: The Body In-Between

Abstract

The Body In-Between. An Interdisciplinary Approach to an Integral Theory of Corporeal Phenomena

Project director: Dr. Cristian Ciocan

In this project, we envision an interdisciplinary research of human corporeality as situated within the complex psychological, social, and religious matrix of contemporary Western civilization. The theoretical core of our project relies on an emphatically phenomenological reading of the living body in the wake of major 20th century thinkers, such as Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Michel Henry, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jean-Luc Marion. Nevertheless, our goal is to combine such phenomenological perspective with the dissimilar theoretical horizons of hermeneutics, history of philosophy, religious studies, and theology.  This project intends to lay the ground for an interdisciplinary theory of the human living body, able to mediate between philosophical (especially phenomenological) and scientific approaches of the body as well as daily-life modes of understanding corporeal phenomena. In order to accomplish this goal, the research work has to analyze basic groups of corporeal phenomena that are in the centre of human life. Such basic groups concerning the body are sexuality, identity, generation, vulnerability, and mediation. These thematic groups are connected with each other in a twofold way: they concern limit-experiences of human body and let emerge critical situations, and they appear mostly by way of privative phenomena. Such privative phenomena: sexuality: prostitution and pornography; identity: the tension between solipsism and inter-subjectivity; the problem of alterity; generation as living between birth and death; vulnerability: abortion and euthanasia; mediation: virtual worlds of the mass media. Secondly, these groups of corporeal (original and privative) phenomena are connected because they participate altogether in the same distinctions of selfness/alterity or private/public – and they overlap with each other, e.g. sexuality belongs to the realm of generation, and vice versa; vulnerability requires also a being who comes into life and is threatened by death; pornography is unthinkable without the ability of creating imaginative, not (yet) realized worlds.