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Body and Embodiment


Admission requirements

This course is open to MA students in Philosophy. Admission to the specialisation Philosophical Anthropology and Philosophy of Culture is required.


The course investigates the ways in which the fact of human embodiment affect all other philosophical concerns, including ontological, political, ethical and epistemological issues. It takes its starting point in the well-known neglect of the body by philosophers from Plato to Descartes in order to bring out a more minor but constant tradition that upholds the importance of the fact of embodiment (from the Stoics to Pascal and Spinoza). It then focuses on the several dimensions of the body as investigated by post-Kantian philosophy in the last two centuries through a discussion of the intentional body (Nietzsche, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty), embodied cognition (Noe, Gallagher, Thompson, Varela) and the politicization of the body (Marx, Foucault, Malabou) and how they interact with a persistent Cartesian tradition in neurophilosophy in particular.

Course objectives

This course aim to provide the students with a detailed view of:

  • the history of the concept of body in Western philosophy;

  • the current state of the debate around embodiment;

  • the implications of the fact of embodiment for epistemology, political philosophy and ontology.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the history of the debates surrounding embodiment (including the mind-body problem, the debates around the metaphysics of the body as material, spiritual, objective, organic, structural or intentional);

  • the metaphysical importance of embodiment;

  • the relations between the philosophical and scientific views of the body.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • critically understand, comment and interconnect specialized texts and theories relative to embodiment;

  • critically engage with some of the latest secondary literature on embodiment;

  • present a consistent and comprehensive view of the current problems of the field and explore possible avenues of research.


See Timetables MA Philosophy 2015-2016

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures and seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load (10 EC x 28 hrs): 280 hours

  • Attending lectures and seminars: 14 × 3 hours = 42 hours

  • Time for studying literature: 80 hours

  • Preparation for lectures and seminars: 40 hours

  • Presentation: 16 hours

  • Preparation assignments: 52 hours

  • Assignments: 50 hours

Assessment method

  • Oral presentation on a secondary article and abstract (30%)

  • Paper on a question agreed in advance based on abstract submitted (70%)


The resit will be a thoroughly demanding survey take-home exam covering the entirety of the course materials, and including a text commentary, a series of short questions and an argumentative essay.


We will use Blackboard for posting texts, general information documents (syllabus etc), assignments and updates.

Reading list

In addition to the books listed below, several extracts of which we shall use, a reading schedule (including shorter texts) and syllabus will be made available on Blackboard.

  • Plato, Phaedo

  • Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, Trans. Cottingham, Cambridge UP, 1996.

  • Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception, Trans. Landes, Routledge 2012.

  • Sean Gallagher, How the Body Shapes the Mind, Oxford UP, 2005.

  • Alva Noe, Action in Perception, MIT Press, 2004.


Please register for this course via Study administration system uSis
See also Registration for lectures and tests

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “”.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. F. Chouraqui