The Embodied Manifesto
By the Society of the Absent Presence

Knowledge Controversy!

The Mind-Body Problem

We finish by asking: how to build a satisfactorily unified picture of creatures possessed of both a mind and a body?

Here are a few questions for you to ponder, to interrogate any innate implantation of dualist notions:

  • Are the mind and the body radically different kinds of thing?
  • Is there a relationship between mental properties and physical properties?
  • Can consciousness be felt in the body?
  • Is emotion evident in the body?
  • Is emotion evident in the mind?
  • Is ‘lived experience’ a form of knowing?
  • Is there a different in mental intention, and bodily intention?
  • Can there be such thing as bodily intention?
  • Are physical properties public, and mental properties private?
  • Does the first-person experience of the body hold knowledge?
  • Can the body produce knowledge when accounted from the first person perspective?
  • Is ‘the soul’ imprisoned in the body?
  • Is ‘the soul’ a property of the body?
  • Does ‘the intellect’ have an organ?
  • Can we physically experience ‘the intellect’?
  • Are bodies machines that work according to their own laws?
  • Mystery, wonder, intrigue: Have these every been felt in your body?
  • Is the body not the thing we have and know, which crosses over the borders and boundaries between psychology, sociology, philosophy, cultural theory, anthropology and sociology?

Illustration: Andre Masson, 1936.

‘My body, in fact, is always elsewhere. It is tied to all the elsewheres of the world. And to tell the truth, it is elsewhere than in the world, because it is around it that things are arranged. It is in relation to it--and in relation to it as if in relation to a sovereign--that there is a below, an above, a right, a left, a forward and a backward, a near and a far. The body is the zero point of the world. There, where paths and spaces come to meet, the body is nowhere. It is at the heart of the world, this small utopian kernel from which I dream, I speak, I proceed, I imagine, I perceive things in their place, and I negate them also by the indefinite power of the utopias I imagine. My body is like the City of the Sun. It has no place, but it is from it that all possible places, real or utopian, emerge and radiate.’

> EN - n°1 – Utopies et Heretopies, Michel Foucault (1966)
Extract: Le corps utopique (Utopian body) translation by Lucia Allais of a radio lecture Foucault delivered in 1966.
Published in Sensorium, MIT Press, 2006, 229-34