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2012 | 13 | 1 | 70-77

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My Own Body as a Form of Otherness in Paul Ricoeur's Philosophy


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The philosophical rehabilitation of the body and corporeality, as undertaken by Paul Ricoeur, may be inscribed as a critique of the model of modern subjectivity as prefigured in the Cartesian Cogito of self-consciousness, self-awareness and substantial identity. This dominating paradigm of thinking cannot be preserved any longer in the face of Nietzsche and Freud, as well as of contemporary linguistics. This model reduced corporeality as a residuum of what is other than I to a handy object of scientific and technological exploration. Whereas, according to Ricoeur, otherness is not something that only accidentally happens to ego. It is not an unessential element and a negative aspect of a subject's and person's identity. Becoming oneself and understanding oneself take place in the medium of the Other. Otherness is for the identity of human ego something internal and originary, reaching us in a sphere of what is truly our own. The hermeneutics of being oneself, rejecting an appearance and the temptation of direct cognition, consists in the analysis of three figures of Otherness, which seem to be consecutively: my own body, the Other and Conscience.Under the influence of the Husserlian distinction of "my own body" and "a body among other bodies", as well as the Heideggerian existentials describing "being-in-the-world", Ricoeur postulates, in a way similarly to Marcel and Merleau-Ponty, a reinterpretation of traditional understanding of both subjectivity and objectivity, as well as the very cognitive act of doing so. Its pre-reflexive foundation was uncovered by existential hermeneutics. The phenomena of being a body and having it appear to be problematic to the utmost, thus opening access to originary relationships between a man and the world as a correlation of bodily intentionality.










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1 - 3 - 2012
3 - 4 - 2012


  • University of Wrocław, Wrocław, Poland


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