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Bodily Doubt

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Abstract:

In this paper I explore the tacit underlying sense of bodily certainty that characterizes normal everyday embodied experience. I then propose illness as one instance in which this certainty breaks down and is replaced by bodily doubt. I characterize bodily doubt as radically modifying our experience in three ways: loss of continuity, loss of transparency, and loss of faith in one's body. I then discuss the philosophical insights that arise from the experience of bodily doubt. The paper uses a Humean framework with regards to bodily certainty, treating it as a taken for granted tacit aspect of normal experience. I argue that although bodily certainty is not rationally justifiable, we are nonetheless unable to reject it. Bodily certainty is thus revealed to be part of our brute animal nature. I conclude by suggesting that the study of pathology is a philosophical method useful for illuminating tacit aspects of experience.

Keywords: Bodily certainty; anxiety; bodily doubt;; depression; embodiment; existential feelings; illness; mental disorder; pathology; philosophical method

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: Havi.Carel@bristol.ac.uk

Publication date: 2013-01-01

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