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Guenther, Lisa, , . Solitary Confinement: Social Death and its Afterlives
2013, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord, Contributed by:

Abstract: Prolonged solitary confinement has become a widespread and standard practice in U.S. prisons – even though it consistently drives healthy prisoners insane, makes the mentally ill sicker, and, according to the testimony of prisoners, threatens to reduce life to a living death. In this profoundly important and original book, Lisa Guenther examines the death-in-life experience of solitary confinement in America from the early nineteenth century to today’s supermax prisons. Documenting how solitary confinement undermines prisoners’ sense of identity and their ability to understand the world, Guenther demonstrates the real effects of forcibly isolating a person for weeks, months, or years. -/- Drawing on the testimony of prisoners and the work of philosophers and social activists from Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty to Frantz Fanon and Angela Davis, the author defines solitary confinement as a kind of social death. It argues that isolation exposes the relational structure of being by showing what happens when that structure is abused – when prisoners are deprived of the concrete relations with others on which our existence as sense-making creatures depends. Solitary confinement is beyond a form of racial or political violence; it is an assault on being.

Comment: This text serves as both a clear introduction to the history of punishment and imprisonment in the United States, as well as a clear introduction to phenomenological method. Portions of the text on the experience of social death in solitary confinement would make excellent additions to introductory courses on prisons and punishment. Some chapters would also be fitting on classes concerning race and mass incarceration.

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Nida-Rumelin, Martine, , . Grasping phenomenal properties
2006, In Torin Alter & Sven Walter (eds.), Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism. Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Nora Heinzelmann

Abstract: I will present an argument for property dualism. The argument employs a distinction between having a concept of a property and grasping a property via a concept. If you grasp a property P via a concept C, then C is a concept of P. But the reverse does not hold: you may have a concept of a property without grasping that property via any concept. If you grasp a property, then your cognitive relation to that property is more intimate then if you just have some concept or other of that property. To grasp a property is to understand what having that property essentially consists in.

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Siegel, Susanna, , . Which Properties are Represented in Perception?
2006, In Tamar S. Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Perceptual Experience. Oxford University Press: 481-503.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by:

Abstract: In discussions of perception and its relation to knowledge, it is common to distinguish what one comes to believe on the basis of perception from the distinctively perceptual basis of one’s belief. The distinction can be drawn in terms of propositional contents: there are the contents that a perceiver comes to believe on the basis of her perception, on the one hand; and there are the contents properly attributed to perception itself, on the other. Siegel argues that high-level properties should be attributed to percception itself. That, high-level properties can be the content of perception.

Comment: This paper is interesting to consider in the cognition/perception debate, since high-level properties such as being a natural kind, or emotions and intentions, are normally taken to be features of cognition rather than perception. It raises interesting questions about the relationship between concepts, the content of perception and perceptual experience. It would be good in a third year module on perception.

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Young, Iris Marion, , . Throwing Like a Girl: A Phenomenology of Feminine Body Comportment, Motility and Spatiality
1980, Human Studies 3 (2): 137-156
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Added by: Harry Lewendon-Evans, Contributed by:

Summary: This paper seeks to begin to fill a gap that exists both in existential phenomenology and feminist theory. It traces in a provisional way some of the basic modalities of feminine body comportment, manner of moving, and relation in space. It brings intelligibility and significance to certain observable and rather ordinary ways in which women in our society typically comport themselves and move differently from the ways that men do. In accordance with the existentialist concern with the situatedness of human experience, [Young] make[s] no claim to the universality of this typicality of the body comportment of women and the phenomenological description based on it. The account developed here claims only to describe the modalities of feminine bodily existence for women situated in contemporary advanced industrial, urban, and commercial society.

Comment: This paper provides a clear and useful introduction to the notion of gendered bodily experience. It would be a useful introductory piece for any course that studies the role of the body more generally, such as courses on phenomenology, philosophy of race/gender, or issues in cognitive science.

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