Il corpo e la sua eccedenza. The body and its surplus PDF Print E-mail
Written by Edizioni ETS   
Friday, 25 June 2021 09:50
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Teoria, 2021-1, coverIn un momento storico in cui gran parte della popolazione mondiale, a causa della pandemia di Covid-19, si è ritrovata nella situazione – praticamente inedita – di essere pesantemente limitata nella propria libertà di movimento, si ripropone prepotentemente la domanda sul corpo, tanto su quello proprio, individuale, quanto su quello sociale, collettivo. Entro tale quadro problematico, «Teoria» dedica due numeri a questa discussione. Nel primo, che qui andiamo a presentare, sono raccolti saggi che trattano del corpo, o della corporeità, secondo una direttrice storico-concettuale, ponendo come asse tematico l’interrogazione sul corpo quale elemento di identità, nella sua essenziale funzione di costituzione del soggetto.

At a historical moment in which a large part of the world’s population, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, found itself – a situation practically unprecedented – severely limited in their freedom of movement, the question about the body, both individual and social arises again urgently. Within this problematic framework, «Teoria» devotes two issues to this discussion. The first issue, which we present here, contains essays that deal with the body along historical and conceptual lines, questioning the body as an element of identity, in its essential function of constituting the subject.



Premise / Premressa, Virgilio Cesarone, Annette Hilt, Antonio Lucci, PDF Open Access, pp. 5-6

Durante Corpore: corpo, durata e eternità nella Parte V dell’Etica di Spinoza, Giovanni Paoletti, pp. 9-32
English title: Durante Corpore: body, duration and eternity in the Fifth Part of Spinoza’s Ethics
Near the end of his Ethics, Spinoza declares he wants to deal with «the mind, without relation to the body». Nevertheless, the perspective of the body is not completely absent from the process of ethical liberation described in the Propositions 21 to 40 of the Fifth Part. In general, the body is mostly seen here as a negative condition, linked to imagination and passions, and opposed to the eternity of the Mind, that would disclose itself only when the body stops enduring. This admits two noteworthy exceptions. First, following Spinoza’s own definition of the Mind as idea of the Body, if the Mind is eternal there must be a sense in which the Body is eternal, too (that is, when the body is considered as an essence). On the other hand, the second has to do with duration. By an analysis of the Latin expression durante Corpore, I have tried to support the argument that the duration of the body should not be confused with its lasting in time and that it can throw light on some other aspects of Spinoza’s conception of eternity of the mind.


The mind-body-relationship in Kant’s De Medicina Corporis and its consequences for his late moral philosophy, Nicola Zambon, pp. 33-51
Beginning with the interpretation of a little-known manuscript, De Medicina Corporis quae Philosophorum est, this essay explores the mind-body- relationship in the practical philosophy of the late Kant. We will show that his interest in medicine, far from being merely theoretical, has profound implications for his anthropology as well as for his doctrine of virtue. The philosopher must be able to exercise control over the body, that is to say over affections, emotions and passions: for Kant, therefore, both mental and physical health are necessary conditions for a moral life.


Disembodied idealism? A new reading of Hegel, Stefania Achella, pp. 53-70
Based on a new reading of some passages of the Phenomenology of Spirit and of the section on Anthropology of the Encyclopedia, the essay aims to provide a comprehensive account of the soul-body relationship in Hegel’s philosophy. While dealing with the mind-body problem, on the basis of his dia- lectical understanding of the relationship between nature and spirit, Hegel presents a solution that has still largely remained unacknowledged. By reviewing the most significant passages of his proposal, the essay challenges the traditional interpretation of Hegelian philosophy as a disembodied idealism and reassesses its relationship with the sciences of the time.


Regioni del corpo o ragioni dello spirito? L’attualità della critica hegeliana alla fisiognomica e alla craniologia, Caterina Maurer, pp. 71-90
English title: Regions of the body or reasons of the spirit? The relevance of Hegelian criticism of physiognomy and craniology
This work investigates Hegel’s objections to J.K. Lavater’s physiognomic theory and F.J. Gall’s organology as cause for reflection on the reductionist and deterministic outcomes of some contemporary neuroscientists and philosophers of the mind that believe “we are our body” and, in particular, our brain. According to the philosopher, physiognomy and craniology represent the extreme outcome of the so-called observational method, which fails to understand the psychic complexity of the subject and does not give a full account of free will. Even though Hegel always put in relation his theory of mind with the empirical data of the natural sciences, his remarks on this subject may assume a theoretical relevance for the contemporary debate in terms of highlighting that experimental data on brain functioning, although essential, do not fully account for the structure of subjectivity as an activity of self-determination.


Corpo proprio e corpo altrui. Husserl e il costituirsi dell’identità, Anna Dionise, pp. 91-109
English title: My own body and the body of others. Husserl and the constitution of identity
This paper aims to highlight some problematic elements of the Husserlian phenomenological system. Starting from the analysis of Dingvorlesung (1907) and Ideen II, I will outline the role that the concepts of “Body” (Leib) and “kinaesthetic consciousness” play in the definition of the notion of pure self or transcendental consciousness. This notion, which must be understood as a minimal notion of consciousness, is characterized by “absolute hypseity” and can be interpreted as the reduction to ownness of every act of consciousness. Husserl uses it as the original and founding notion of identity that can be defined as mineness (Meinheit). This paper shows in what sense the minimal identity that emerges thanks to corporeity and is structurally intertwined with it, is – on the contrary – already a result, i.e. the result of a progressive “negation” of the community dimension, understood as a fusional and “unipathic” dimension in relation to the other.


La custodia terragna del corpo. Sulla corporeità nel pensiero dell’evento di Martin Heidegger, Virgilio Cesarone, pp. 111-130
English title: The earthly custody of the body. On corporeality in Martin Heidegger’s thought of the event
The contribution will try to take into account the perspective shift which occurred in Martin Heidegger’s thought in relation to the comprehensive access to the body, which took place in the passage from a horizontal-transcendental perspective to one marked by the encounter between the projection of Dasein and the jet of Being. The key to unlocking this new understanding is the concept of earth, which Heidegger develops, in the first instance, in his essay about The Origin of the Work of Art. The earth, in its contrast with the world, remains that ground, never completely accessible, that preserves and safeguards an hidden truth. The analysis of passages from the Contributions to Philosophy and some pages of the Nietzsche lectures will confirm the proposed reading: the body, beyond any attempt to make it fully measurable and exploitable, remains inscrutable on the ground of feeling like a body, which must be allocated in the Dasein. This will lead Heidegger to connect the corporeality of being with the giving of space, that is, with the giving of the Lichtung of the truth of being.


The Political Body. Plessner and Foucault on Power and Human Nature, Annette Hilt, pp. 131-150
To scrutinize not only the power we have, but the one we are, the one we are able to due to our finitude, might become the task of a Philosophical Anthropology: This task takes into account our bodily and thus vulnerable being: Being vulnerable seems to be an universal category of conditio humana; yet, too often it counts bodies in categories of body politics. It is a long-time project of Helmuth Plessner to develop a political anthropology of regaining a space for counter-acting such immunization-strategies of power relations – a way before Michel Foucault started his own epistemological and political account of archeo-genealogical critique of power. The essay will discuss lines of thought of “Political Anthropology” and how philosophy, anthropology and politics as different disciplines might intertwine to open a reflective space.


Attraverso il corpo: tipologie dell’espressione, Fiorenza Toccafondi, pp. 151-168
English title
: Through the body: typologies of expression
In the first decades of the twentieth century, the debate on the distinction between lived-living body (Leib) and physical body (Körper) was lively and stimulating in the German area. The paper will start from what Max Scheler had called «the psychophysical indifference» of the lived-living body and its expressions. Through this principle, Scheler intended to affirm that expressive manifestations are necessary and sufficient condition for understanding the other people’s basic feelings. After showing the contemporary valorisation of Scheler’s conception in the phenomenological field and in the light of recent neurophysiological research, the paper will examine the contrast posed by Klages between expressive gestures and pantomimic gestures. Through F.J.J. Buytendijk ‘s and H. Plessner’s theses, the specificity of expressions linked to voluntariness, cultural traditions, and to the social and communicative dimension of human beings will be shown. Finally, through K. Bühler’s views and their valorization of the theses contained in J. J. Engel’s Ideen zu einer Mimik (1785-1786) the ability of the gesture to make present what is absent and even to indicate it (as shown by the type of deixis named by Scheler as deixis ad phantasmata) will be addressed.


The Paradoxical Body. The Tensegrity of Corporeality in Sartre’s Phenomenology, Federico Zilio, pp. 169-187
The body is the core of our internal and external experiences. The existential and phenomenological complexity of the body is presented by Sartre in Being and Nothingness, and his multidimensional approach to corporeality has sometimes been interpreted as a failed attempt to overcome Cartesian ontology and the mind-body problem. This paper aims to reconsider the Sartrean approach not as a return of Cartesian dualism, but as an investigation of the irreducible dynamics of corporeality, which not only overcome Cartesianism but also offer an original answer compared to other phenomenological approaches. First, I analyse the intrinsic relationship between consciousness, the body, and the world in Sartre’s phenomenological analysis. Then, I present the three existential dimensions of corporeality, the body-for-itself, the body-for-others, and the body-for-itself-for-others, and argue that Sartre aims to stress the «tensional integrity» of bodily consciousness, through its paradoxical and multidimensional nature. This many-layered complexity is far from proposing a rigid dualism between the subjective and the objective body; rather, it represents a dynamic and dialectical process of attractions and oppositions. Lastly, I argue that the phenomenal richness of bodily experience developed by Sartre can offer a non-reductive interpretation of body for contemporary cognitive science.

Le avventure del corpo. Con Merleau-Ponty verso una “nuova ontologia”, Enrica Lisciani-Petrini, pp. 189-207
English title: The Adventures of the Body. Towards a “new ontology” with Merleau-Ponty.
The present paper analyses the process of reassessing the body’s topic, which began at the beginning of the nineteenth century and has developed along a ridge up to the present day. It is an essential process because the awareness that the body reveals, in an unprejudiced analysis, overturns a series of past categories, starting with a classic idea of “subject”. The author who, more than any other, offers fundamental contributions in this sense is Merleau-Ponty, for whom the “rehabilitation of the sensitive”, produced by reflection on the body, “upsets the usual idea of the world” and leads to a “new ontology”.


La «passività estrema» dell’incarnazione: Levinas e il tema dell’embodiment, Sebastiano Galanti Grollo, pp. 209-223
English title: The “extreme passivity” of incarnation: Levinas and the issue of embodiment The article addresses the issue of embodiment in Emmanuel Levinas’s thought, with particular reference to Otherwise that Being, or Beyond Essence and to the late writings, in which sensibility represents the essential dimension of subjectivity. First, I discuss the Levinasian definition of subjectivity as “the Other in the Same”, in which the relationship with the other is taken as an internal relationship. Then, I show that in Otherwise that Being Levinas focuses on the vulnerability of the body, which is understood on the basis of the relationship with the other. Levinas addresses the issue of responsibility in terms of incarnation, arguing that the subject’s “flesh” is vulnerable to the traumatic contact with the other. Finally, I compare the Levinasian conception of the body with current research on the issue of embodiment, showing its difference from the intellectualistic approaches which are still dominant in the field of cognitive sciences.


Etica, sessualità e ascesi. Costruzione del soggetto, tecnologie del sé e impianti di potere nel pensiero di Michel Foucault (1977-1984), Graziano Lingua, Antonio Lucci, pp. 225-245
English title: Ethics, sexuality and asceticism. Construction of the subject, technologies of the self and power structures in the late work of Michel Foucault (1977-1984).
The paper will consider Michel Foucault’s production between 1979 and 1983, placing the question of the constitution of the subject, both individual and collective, at the centre of the analysis. The objective is twofold: on the one hand, to highlight structural similarities and parallels between the techniques of the constitution of the individual subject and those of the constitution of a collective social body. On the other hand, to show, through a parallel examination of Foucaultian concepts of “technologies of the Self” and asceticism, the identities and differences between pagan philosophical subjectivity and that of early Christianity, which were both shaped through different (but connected) corporal and spiritual practices.