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 Thinking Body

The thinking body

Of primary concern in the last chapter was the development of the body as an object within the recent history of Western societies, where one's own body becomes the target of knowledge and discipline (imposed by the self or by the state). The increasing trend towards ideological and normative control, and towards self-discipline, creates the experience of the body as a machine, to be mastered and used. However, human bodies in the Western world do not exist solely as the objects of knowledge, but also as the primary foundation of the knowing subject — the person and selves. Although the sense experience of the body has been attenuated, with modern Westerners restricted largely to sight and hearing as the main ...

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