Event Date: 12 January 2011
Flett Lecture Theatre
Natural History Museum
Dorothée Legrand – Constitutive Self-Negation
Abstract: Phenomenology has insistently contributed to the understanding of the irreducibility of two bodily dimensions: the body-as-subject anchoring one’s first-person perspective, carrying out one’s projects and the body-as-object constrained by its immersion in the material world, scrutinized by others. This presentation will unfold the idea that both these bodily dimensions participate equi-primordially to the constitution of one’s being. This may be shown by considering atypical experiences and practices of bodily self-transformation which may first appear as attempted self-eradication, but which may rather involve a form of constitutive self-negation. Following Reza Negarestani who characterizes decay as a “building process toward exteriority”, a radical subtraction from one’s body of the inert elements common to one’s body-as-object (life) and one’s corpse (death) will here be conceptualized as involving two contemporaneous processes: shedding one’s thing-hood and exposing one’s no-thingness. The former attests to the irreducibility of one’s body-as-subject and one’s body-as-object; the latter attests to their ineradicable intermeshing.
Dorothée Legrand is a researcher at CREA: Centre de Recherche en Epistémologie Appliquée (CNRS, Ecole polytechnique, Paris). She has a specialism in psychology and cognitive sciences and holds a Ph.D in philosophy. Her current research focuses on the notion of selfhood and subjectivity from the lens of (a)typical practices of bodily self- transformation in their relation to anchoring the ‘self’ to matter and others. Legrand’s research is at the intersection of phenomenology, cognitive (neuro)sciences and psychiatry/psychoanalysis. She is currently writing a monograph on anorexia.