Phenomenology and Bodies of Knowledge

This is an interdisciplinary research group united by a shared interest in phenomenology. From Edmund Husserl's phenomenological breakthrough onward, phenomenology has understood itself as an undogmatic philosophy "from below." Phenomenology starts out from the phenomena as they originally show themelves prior to theoretical constructions of knowledge. By returning to what is given, phenomenological approaches can bring to light questions that have been neglected within many disciplines. Scholars are opening new lines of inquiry in fields such as health science, theology, literature, architecture, social sciences, archeology and aesthetics.

From the Harvard Art Museums' collection Jocular Sounds Foto: Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Association Fund and Purchase in memory of Eda K. Loeb Artwork © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris


Our group is particularly interested in exploring the double meaning of "bodies of knowledge." We foreground the body's role in discovering, organizing and creating knowledge, but also explore the body as a metaphor for knowledge's finite boundaries. Disciplinary bodies of knowledge often assume a body-as-object, knowable outside of lived embodied experience. This creates an illusion of certainty and projects certainty as an absolute value. Returning to phenomenology can make available for theoretical reassessment those areas of human experience that do not admit of certainty.  


 1)     Revitalize phenomenology and its standing relevance for various academic disciplines;

2)      Reopen for discussion the relationship between embodied life and academic bodies of knowledge; 

3)     Explore phenomena such as incarnation, sickness, pain, appetite and love through multi-disciplinary seminars, conferences and writing projects;

 4)     Question the value of certainty as the goal of knowledge, particularly with regard to the experience and representation of the human body.

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