Bodies of breath, bodies of knowledge, and bodies of culture

Towards the end of his lecture on ‘techniques of the body’, delivered to a meeting of the Société Française de Psychologie in 1934, the sociologist and anthropologist Marcel Mauss discussed the
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Towards the end of his lecture on ‘techniques of the body’, delivered to a meeting of the Société Française de Psychologie in 1934, the sociologist and anthropologist Marcel Mauss discussed the methods of breathing practiced by Daoist priests and Yogic mystics. Far from being instinctive, these techniques require a lengthy apprenticeship, exemplifying how the development of people’s physical abilities involves an interweaving of social and psychological processes within the biological foundations of human being. The consequences of such techniques of breathing, moreover, can be profound. Promoting positive flows of energy within the body, they help harmonise individuals with the world around them, and can even facilitate a means of communication with the divine. Lest anyone think that this example is irrelevant to daily life in the contemporary West, these Eastern methods of breathing (alongside their associated disciplines of movement such as Tai Chi Chuan) have been used in. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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