BSP Podcast: James Rakoczi – Merleau-Ponty’s “I can” in cases of global paralysis

podcast update

Our podcast continues this week with another panel presentation from the British Society for Phenomenology Annual Conference in July 2018.

Season 3 episode 59: 3 May 2019

In this podcast episode James Rakoczi presents the paper ‘Moving without movement: Merleau-Ponty’s “I can” in cases of global paralysis’. You can listen to this episode on the BSP’s Podbean site, and you can also find it on iTunes and all good podcasting apps by searching ‘BSP Podcast’.

Abstract: “In this paper, I aim to demonstrate how memoirs written by people who live with, or have experienced, global paralysis can illuminate and complicate Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s claim in Phenomenology of Perception that embodied movement is a necessary condition for a transcendental self. I argue that the kinds of movement these texts articulate shares an affinity with the kind of movement instantiated by Merleau-Ponty’s intentional arc: a ceaseless and adaptive movement, or a “therapeutic” movement, which constantly “recovers” from an incapacity to move. In short, Merleau-Ponty’s “I can” emerges ceaselessly from an “I cannot”. I shall make particular reference to two texts. First, I shall consider how any philosophy attempting to centre the importance of bodies-in-movement might align with the claims made in Kate Allatt’s memoir Running Free (2011), a text in which Allatt attributes an interior ‘running psyche’ as imperative to her miraculous recovery from locked-in syndrome. Second, I will read Jean-Dominique Bauby’s locked-in syndrome memoir The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly (Le scaphandre et le papillon, 1997) through the lens of Merleau-Ponty’s account of anosognosia, arguing that the text conceals its laborious method of production in the very process of describing that method. I will conclude by reflecting on the influence Merleau-Ponty has had on embodied therapies and textual accounts of lived illness experience, and indicate how understanding the ways in which embodied movement, textuality and therapeutics overlap has significance for our understanding of Merleau-Ponty’s claims.”

The British Society for Phenomenology’s Annual Conference took place at the University of Kent, in Canterbury, UK during July, 2018. It gathered together philosophers, literary scholars, phenomenologists, and practitioners exploring phenomenological theory and its practical application. It covered a broad range of areas and issues including the arts, ethics, medical humanities, mental health, education, technology, feminism, politics and political governance, with contributions throwing a new light on both traditional phenomenological thinkers and the themes associated with classical phenomenology. More information about the conference can be found here.

Registration is open for the JBSP’s 50th Anniversary Conference (2019). In celebration of Volume 50 of the JBSP, the British Society for Phenomenology is running a three-day conference, examining the contribution of Heidegger’s Schwarze Hefte (Black Notebooks) to an understanding of the question of the history of being. See the JBSP anniversary conference homepage for more details.
And, the Call for Papers for the British Society for Phenomenology’s 2019 Annual Conference is now live. The conference is to be held in Manchester, UK from Thursday 5 – Saturday 7 September 2019. The CfP runs until Friday 31 May 2019 (midnight BST). For more details – including keynote speakers – see the BSP 2019 Annual conference homepage.