Cities are defined by their complex network of busy streets and the multitudes of people that animate them through physical presence and bodily actions that often differ dramatically: elegant window-shoppers and homeless beggars, protesting crowds and patrolling police. As bodies shape city life, so the city’s spaces, structures, economies, politics, rhythms, and atmospheres reciprocally shape the urban soma. This collection of original essays explores the somaesthetic qualities and challenges of city life (in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas) from a variety of perspectives ranging from philosophy, urban theory, political theory, and gender studies to visual art, criminology, and the interdisciplinary field of somaesthetics. Together these essays illustrate the aesthetic, cultural, and political roles and trials of bodies in the city streets.
This collection of essays explores the crucial connections between aesthetic experience and the interdisciplinary field of somaesthetics, while further advancing inquiry in both. After the editor’s introduction and three articles examining philosophical accounts of embodiment and aesthetic experience in existentialism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, and pragmatism, the book’s nine remaining articles apply somaesthetic theory to the fine arts (including detailed studies of the body’s role in painting, sculpture, architecture, poetry, music, photography, and cinema) but also to diverse arts of living, considering such topics as cosmetics and sexual practice. These interdisciplinary, multicultural essays are written by a distinctively international group of experts, ranging from Asia (China and India) to Europe (Denmark, Finland, Hungary, and Italy) and the United States.
Responding to three articles in a symposium dedicated to my research in somaesthetics, this paper explores a variety of themes connecting my theories with classical Chinese philosophy. The symposium topics discussed here range from the ontology of body-mind and world to the ethics of somaesthetic self-cultivation, and then to the somaesthetic meanings of our practices of erotics and of eating. The paper shows how the pragmatist orientation of somaesthetics reconciles values of unity with those of difference and how key ideas of somaesthetics intersect, in different ways, with both Confucian and Daoist thought.
In responding to five symposium articles that discuss my book Thinking through the Body and my theories of somaesthetics and pragmatism, this essay elaborates two central methodological orientations that guide my philosophical research. The first is transactional experiential inquiry in which inquiry can develop new directions, aims, methods, and standards through the dynamic experiences acquired in the course of the inquiry’s pursuit and in which its transactional experiences involve research that transcends familiar disciplinary limits and conventions. The second principle involves mitigating problematic dualisms by a strategy of inclusive disjunction. I deploy these principles in replying to the five commentaries. Besides clarifying issues in somaesthetics, my reply focuses on such topics as everyday aesthetics, eroticism, architecture, dance, Chinese philosophy, meliorism, and pragmatism.