Monday, July 23, 2007

Lived Embodiment and Addiction

I just jumped on to Media Fire, the free file-sharing site that Continental Philosophy tends to use. About three months ago I mentioned the acceptance of one of my papers for the ISTP Conference in Toronto. I've just uploaded that paper, titled Lived Embodiment and Addiction, and would welcome comments, criticisms, etc. Here's the abstract again:
A common assumption in much of psychology is that the body is best (if not solely) understood as a physically deterministic entity, even when the existence of a mind/psyche is granted. Here I wish to explore an alternative conception of the body—that of lived embodiment—and make a modest proposal on its ramifications for how we understand addiction. I begin by discussing some of the important assumptions of the physicalistic model, namely linear temporality, causal determinism, and the notion of "habit" implied in those assumptions. Next, I will discuss an alternative conception of embodiment, drawn particularly from Maurice Merleau-Ponty and supplemented by the phenomenology of Martin Heidegger. The lived body, as found in our everyday movement in the world, exhibits a non-linear temporal horizon through which the world is habitable. I do not act from the temporally punctualized t1 to t2, but I act 'during the lecture,' 'as I cook,' or 'during the conference'; the temporal horizon is spanned. Similarly, it does not follow the if-then logic of causal determinism or rationality, but is based on "motivation"—rather than if I do this, then that will be the result, bodily motility is structured as if I am to do this, then I need to or must do that. For the body to act in a motivated way means its being "geared" towards the world according to specific intentions and, thus, it acts meaningfully. Lastly, "habit," rather than being a learned response to stimuli, is a "style" of being in the world, a particular way of dealing with various contexts. With the above in mind, I propose that the embodied aspect of addiction cannot be fully understood in causal terms, but must include the body’s circumstantial grasp of the world, motivation-based actions, and stylistic modes of being in the world.

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Anonymous the long fall of prose said...

I haven't read the paper but the abstract seems to be more Ponty-ian than Heidegerrian (although tinges can be traced). I'd have to say though that the abstract was not able to express its main proposal in regard to your topic, I felt like it was an auxiliary one. But a promising paper I admit. ^^

9:34 AM  
Blogger Kevin Winters said...


Yes, my primary focus in this paper is Merleau-Pontian, but I also use Heidegger as my background for understandin Merleau-Ponty. I stand with the group that believes that Merleau-Ponty was more of a Heideggerian than he was a Husserlian (despite MP's claim to the contrary, e.g. the introduction to Phenomenology of Perception). It is primarily Heidegger's understanding of "world" that I use here in tandem with Merleau-Ponty's notion of motivation as dealing principally with meaningful motility within a world.

I will have to say, though, that this paper is still exploratory, an initial foray into my thesis work that is going to be on a phenomenological interpretation of depression using Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Ricoeur, and Levinas as my basis. I'll post more on that later.

11:23 AM  
Blogger Bryan said...

Thanks for directing me towards that essay on "The Inescapability of Phenomenology." I will definitely give it a read.

12:42 AM  
Blogger Camplin said...

I can see how people are not governed by "If Then" statements. But, I don't see the world as fully deterministic either. Random things also occur. Like a dance, the determinist aspects and the random aspects of the world help shape the moment and the individual. I agree with your understanding of psychology's foundations. Psychology was working on the success of other sciences. Physics, Chemistry, and general Biology seemed to follow "If Then," statements quite easily. The human mind/psyche, however, is to complex for a deterministic world. And scientist are also finding that these other groupings are more complex then the purely predictible world they imagined.

2:19 AM  
Blogger Haydar said...

the question i pose is whether addiction is something that can be understood within the parameters of heideggers notion of average everydayness - a state of being where dasein is passive, susceptible and going with the flow of all that surrounds him/her. on the contrary, addiction may be characterized as an inferior mode of being to average everydayness. my sense is that addiction clearly originates in the everdayness or a fallen state, which for heidegger remains a sort of default or standardized way of life. however once addiction has taken over dasein, he or she has actively removed himself from the happy go lucky world of averageness. ironically, addicts become active, and transitioned into a comportment to the world where he actively, in defiance to common sense and basic safety and sanity, pursues the feeling of being high to the detriment of the comforts of everyday life. In this sense, addiction is inferior to average everydayness and stands in opposition to authenticity in a way that strangley turns average everydayness into an affirmative act of authenticity.

10:34 PM  

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