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FractureAdventures of a broken body$
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Ann Oakley

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9781861349378

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861349378.001.0001

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Living corpses

Living corpses

(p.71) 6 Living corpses

Ann Oakley

Policy Press

The medical surveillance of bodies as entities divorced from human identity and experience is a part of a general cultural move to see bodies as passive objects and targets of power. Sensations, said Descartes, aren't thoughts. Feeling one's body, noticing one's location inside it, is part of bodily experience; it has nothing to do with identity, whose essence lies in abstracted thought. Also, he believed that it's through the pineal gland that the mind perceives and acts upon the body. The chapter discusses classical neurology and how this approach fits the body-as-machine model of Western medicine, and the unimportance of what Virginia Woolf called ‘the creature within’. This chapter argues that people may experience the world through their bodies, but their bodies alone can't tell us what the experience means.

Keywords:   human identity, Descartes, classical neurology, Virginia Woolf, bodies, identity

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