The Synthesis of One’s own Body
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The Synthesis of One’s own Body book
The analysis of bodily space has led us to results which may be generalized. We notice for the ﬁrst time, with regard to our own body, what is true of all perceived things: that the perception of space and the perception of the thing, the spatiality of the thing and its being as a thing are not two distinct problems. The Cartesian and Kantian tradition already teaches us this; it makes the object’s spatial limits its essence; it shows in existence partes extra partes, and in spatial distribution, the only possible signiﬁcance of existence in itself. But it elucidates the perception of the object through the perception of space, whereas the experience of our own body teaches us to embed space in existence. Intellectualism clearly sees that the ‘motif of the thing’ and the ‘motif of space’1 are interwoven, but reduces the former to the latter. Experience discloses beneath objective space, in which the body eventually ﬁnds its place, a primitive spatiality of which experience is merely the outer covering and which merges with the body’s very being. To be a body, is to be tied to a certain world, as we have seen; our body is not primarily in space: it is of it. Anosognosics who describe their arm as
‘like a snake’, long and cold,2 do not, strictly speaking, fail to recognize its objective outline and, even when the patient looks unsuccessfully for his arm or fastens it in order not to lose it,3 he knows well enough where his arm is, since that is where he looks for it and fastens it. If, however, patients experience their arm’s space as something alien, if generally speaking I can feel my body’s space as vast or minute despite the evidence of my senses, this is because there exists an aﬀective presence and enlargement for which objective spatiality is not a sufﬁcient condition, as anosognosia shows, and indeed not even a necessary condition, as is shown by the phantom arm. Bodily spatiality is the deployment of one’s bodily being, the way in which the body comes into being as a body. In trying to analyse it, we were therefore simply anticipating what we have to say about bodily synthesis in general.