Philosophy and Religion Lecture: What is Abnormal Embodiment?

Thursday, November 8, 2018
5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Event Type
Meeting / Conference
Talia Welsh
Philosophy & Religion Department

 Featuring guest speaker Jenny Slatman, professor of medical humanities at Tilburg University in the Netherlands.

I would like to outline a phenomenology of “abnormal embodiment”. Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s work does not provide direct clues for this. Whereas the phenomenon of pathology and being ill is abundantly discussed in Phenomenology of Perception, the term abnormality is hardly used. This is not by accident. While relating Merleau-Ponty’s ideas about pathology to Kurt Goldstein’s and Georges Canguilhem’s work, I will first explain why and how they differentiate between pathology/being ill on the one hand, and abnormality on the other. On the basis of their work we could say that whereas pathology/being ill implies a first person perspective, an account of lived experience, being abnormal only appears from a third person perspective and is often related to a statistical view. Bracketing positivist scientific insights, phenomenology, as is well-known excludes statistics from its analysis. However, while drawing on some ideas by Ian Hacking on the history of statistical reasoning, I will demonstrate how the statistics of abnormality directly interconnects with lived experience. Acknowledging the performative force of statistics will allow us to provide a phenomenological account not only of pathology/being ill but also of abnormal embodiment.

Free and open the public
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