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ERIC Number: EJ872611
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jan
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 2
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1545-4517
Shusterman, Merleau-Ponty, and Dewey: The Role of Pragmatism in the Conversation of Embodiment
Jordan, J. Scott
Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education, v9 n1 p67-73 Jan 2010
The author begins his essay by stating that Richard Shusterman advises us that the 20th century scholarly community has not just ignored the value that can come to one's life as a function of paying close attention to the body and its immediate sensual qualities, it has trained us to eschew its character-enhancing sensual natures in favor of more lofty, intellectual pursuits. Shusterman asserts that Merleau-Ponty, for example, rightly claimed that a philosophy of experience should begin with the primordial intentionality of the pre-reflective body: "Merleau-Ponty's notion of bodily intentionality defies philosophical tradition by granting the body a kind of subjectivity instead of treating it as mere object or mechanism." Shusterman also points out that in his zeal to establish the ontological primacy of lived experience via the body, Merleau-Ponty implicitly eschewed the utilization of higher-level representations of the body. Shusterman challenges this division in Merleau-Ponty's position by making a case for the practical utility of higher-level somatic awareness. The author contends that, while from a pragmatic perspective, Shusterman's arguments work, it is not clear Merleau-Ponty would have actually disagreed. The author does not claim that Shusterman has committed a category mistake; rather, he wishes to draw attention to the possibility that Merleau-Ponty would not deny the practical value of enhanced soma awareness. Thus, what really seems to be at stake for Shusterman is not the ontological status of the body but rather the type of philosophy we should apply to it. As a result, Shusterman's critique of Merleau-Ponty comes across as a debate about ontology versus pragmatism. Perhaps this explains Shusterman's affinity for Dewey's pragmatism. Having begun his philosophical career as an idealist, Dewey later turned away from metaphysics and attempted to move philosophy toward a more scientifically-informed, practically-oriented philosophical agenda. This relates to Shusterman's critique of Merleau-Ponty, for since the critique seems to reduce to the relative merits of ontology and practice, one might claim Shusterman is recapitulating in the field of embodiment philosophy Dewey's efforts to move philosophy, in general, away from metaphysics. That is, Shusterman seems to be saying that if we are going to talk about the body philosophically, it is "better" to do so pragmatically versus ontologically. It is concluded that, having secured its status as "better" via the truth criteria of practice however (i.e., the realm of human desire), the pragmatic approach to the body will not have defeated ontology. Rather, it will have found its voice in the current conversation on embodiment.
MayDay Group. Brandon University School of Music, 270 18th Street, Brandon, Manitoba R7A 6A9, Canada. Tel: 204-571-8990; Fax: 204-727-7318; Web site: http://act.maydaygroup.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A