The lecture is devoted to various philosophical approaches to thinking, the human body, and embodiment.
In ancient times, the experience of the world was always, and by default, an embodied experience. Indeed, throughout history and until today, humans have projected themselves onto the world around them. Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man extends his own symmetry into the universe. Le Corbusier’s Modulor measures the world by an anthropometric scale, turning the proportion of the human body into a practical tool. Still, for a long time the body was abolished from culture: it was the soul, the will, or the word, that mattered in the first place. The crisis of modernity and representation have revived an interest in our own body, which has become our last straw in keeping hold of reality that we feel is slipping away. In the twentieth century, the body has also returned to philosophy in concepts such as Deleuze’s body without organs or Foucault’s docile bodies in Discipline and Punish.
‘…gymnastics and athletic and military training were an integral part of the education of a free man. Moreover, it has something paradoxical about it since it is inscribed, at least in part, within an ethics that posits that death, disease, or even physical suffering do not constitute true ills and that it is better to take pains over one's soul than to devote one's care to the maintenance of the body. But in fact the focus of attention in these practices of the self is the point where the ills of the body and those of the soul can communicate with one another and exchange their distresses: where the bad habits of the soul can entail physical miseries, while the excesses of the body manifest and maintain the failings of the soul. The apprehension is concentrated above all on the crossover point of the agitations and troubles, taking account of the fact that one had best correct the soul if one does not want the body to get the better of it, and rectify the body if one wants it to remain completely in control of itself. It is to this point of contact, the weak point of the individual, that the attention one gives to the physical ills, discomforts, and complaints is directed (Michel Foucault. The Care of the Self. The History of Sexuality, vol. 3).