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Bordo, Susan, , . Anorexia Nervosa: Psychopathology as the Crystallization of Culture
1993, In her Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body. Berkeley: University of California Press.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Diversifying Syllabi: Bordo claims that the recent increase in women with Anorexia is a symptom of the “central ills” of our culture. Bordo discusses three sources of this “cultural illness” which leads to anorexia: the dualist axis, the control axis, and the gender/power axis. She spends the bulk of the paper discussing each “axis” or problematic component of society which is reflected back to us in the increasing diagnosis of anorexia. These “psychopathogolgies” are expressions of the culture, she claims.

Comment: This text is most readily applicable in teaching feminist theory and social philosophy. However, it is also very useful in at least three other contexts: (1) as a critical approach to mind-body dualism, especially when teaching on Descartes or Plato’s Phaedo; (2) in teaching on the ethics of mental illness and the anti-psychiatry movement, as an example of socially constructed disorders; and (3) more broadly in teaching on personal and collective moral responsibility.

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Demaria, Christina, , . The Performative Body of Marina Abramović Rerelating (in) Time and Space
2004, The European Journal of Women’s Studies 1(3): 295-307.
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Added by: Rossen Ventzislavov, Contributed by:

Abstract: Can a performance be analysed as a textual practice? Starting from this question, the article tries to describe the effets du sens (meaning effects) of some of the work of Marina Abramović, a Serbian performer and visual artist. From the 1970s, when the so-called body art emerged as a visual genre, offering the artist’s body as a naked site of inscription, up to the present, when performing has become a more playful and direct transmission of energy between the doer and the viewer, the work of Abramović represents an effective and powerful example of the body-as-a-text in which subjectivity can be re-expressed and reinvented through the transformations of the relation between time and space. In the strong relationship created between the performer and the audience, what is enacted is a translation–transduction of material and cognitive meanings that results in a redefinition of a subjective and, simultaneously, collective experience of identity.

Comment: This is a prime example of feminist aesthetics and its treatment of the human body. Demaria’s main contention is that performance art can be understood textually and representationally even if it does not lay an explicit claim to either type of content. She agrees with Judith Butler’s notion of citationality as a perpetual re-inscription of power norms and codes onto the human body. Since bodily presence plays such an important part in most performance art, the question of the possibility of embodied meaning arises naturally. Demaria uses the art of Marina Abramović to show that the question should be answered in the affirmative. Abramović’s body exercises discursive transgressions (of language and code) in ways that, according to Demaria, establish a new language of dissent.

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Montero, Barbara, , . The body problem
1999,
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: It seems that a solution to the body problem, or at least one that helps us to better understand the mind-body problem, is not forthcoming. And I take it this indicates that, at least for the time being, we should focus on questions other than the question ‘Is the mind physical?’ To this end, I would like to suggest a question that, I think, highlights some of the central concerns of both physicalists and dualists. And this is the question of whether the mental is fundamentally non-mental. For it seems that physicalism is, at least in part, motivated by the belief that the mental is ultimately non-mental, that is, that mental properties are not fundamental properties, while a central tenet of dualism, precisely, that they are. Of course the notion of the non-mental is also open ended. And, for this reason, it may be just as difficult to see, what sort of considerations are relevant in determining what counts as non-mental as it is to see what sort of considerations could be relevant in determining what counts as physical. But, of course, this is a project for another paper. One advantage, however, is that, arguably, we do have a grasp of one side of the divide – that is, the mental side. So, perhaps, rather than worrying about whether the mind is fundamentally physical, we should be concerned with whether the mind is fundamentally non-mental. And this, I should mention, is a concern that has little to do with what current physics, future physics, or a final physics says about the world.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Shapiro, Lisa, , . Princess Elizabeth and Descartes: The union of soul and body and the practice of philosophy
1999, British Journal for the History of Philosophy 7(3): 503-520.
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Added by: Francesca Bruno, Contributed by:

Summary: In this paper, Shapiro aims to explore Princess Elizabeth’s own philosophical position, as developed in her correspondence with Descartes. In particular, Shapiro is interested in tracing Elizabeth’s own thought about the nature of the union of soul and body. Shapiro argues that Elizabeth develops her view from her early, famous objection against Descartes’ notion of the union of soul and body given his substance dualism to her later (less known) objections to Descartes’ neo-Stoic advice to her about regulating her passions. According to Shapiro, Elizabeth defends a unique philosophical position, one that is intermediary between substance dualism and reductionist materialism. On this view, the mind is autonomous yet it depends on the (good health of the) body to function properly. Shapiro concludes her paper by reconsidering Elizabeth’s practice of philosophy in light of the lack of a systematic treatment of philosophical issue by her.

Comment:  This article is a nice introduction to Princess Elizabeth’s own philosophical thinking, although it might require some familiarity with Elizabeth-Descartes correspondence. Lisa Shapiro aims to take Elizabeth seriously as a philosopher, focusing on her view of the nature of the union of soul and body, as set forth in her correspondence with Descartes. She also reconsiders Elizabeth’s practice of philosophy: she argues that the lack of a systematic treatment of philosophical issues on Elizabeth’s part does not make her any less of a philosopher.

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