In this incisive and truly impressive book, Ian Burkitt critically addresses the dualism between mind and body, thought and emotion, rationality and irrationality, and the mental and the material, which haunt the post-Cartesian world. Drawing on the work of contemporary social theorists and feminist writers, he argues that thought and the sense of being a person is inseparable from bodily practices within social relations, even though such active experience may be abstracted and expanded upon through the use of symbols. Overcoming classic dualisms in social thought, Burkitt argues that bodies are not purely the constructs of discourses of power: they are also productive, communicative, and invested with powerful capacities for chang

The Ecology of Bodies of Thought

The ecology of bodies of thought

In this chapter I will discuss the effects of what Foucault (1979) called ‘bio-history’ upon the human body and the way in which it is enmeshed in social relations and practices, leading to the development of culture, knowledge and thinking. Remember that Foucault defined bio-history as ‘the pressures through which the movements of life and the processes of history interfere with one another’ (1979: 143), but did not pursue the nature of this inter-connection. What is being suggested here, though, is a very fruitful idea: that the processes of biological life can never be separated from the processes of history and, at various levels, the two interact and affect one another. In terms of ...

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