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Mind the body (1) A most intimate and obscure relation with one’s body

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Although introspectively familiar, it is hard to exactly pinpoint the nature of the specific relationship that we have uniquely with our own body. We are aware of our bodily posture, of its temperature, of its physiological balance, of the pressure exerted on it, and so forth. Insofar as these properties are detected by a range of inner sensory receptors in the skin, joints, muscles, tendons, inner ear, and internal organs, one may conceive of bodily awareness on the model of perceptual awareness. Yet in many respects bodily experiences depart from standard sensory experiences. What are the consequences of the inside mode of our acquaintance with it? Is the body presented to us as one object among others? Or is it presented to us in a special way?  Thanks to their privileged relation to our body, bodily experiences seem to afford awareness of our body as being our own. Consider the following basic example: I touch the table with my hand. I feel the table but it seems also that I feel that the hand that touches it is mine. This type of self-awareness is known as the sense of bodily ownership, for want of a better name. Ownership is what may be called a high-level property, a normally permanent one (although we shall see that this is not always the case), and thus rarely at the forefront of consciousness: it does not attract attention because it normally does not change. Consequently, there is an ongoing debate over its very existence: do we actually feel the body as our own, or do we merely know that it is our own? And how to best characterize this minimal form of self-awareness? In sensory terms? Agentive terms? Affective terms? Or in cognitive terms? To answer these types of question, it has proved fruitful to compare two situations: one in which the high-level property is instantiated and one in which it is not. One can then analyze what changes in our experience. Interestingly, it has been recently shown that one can. . .

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News source: Philosophy of Mind – The Brains Blog

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