Tijdschrift voor Filosofie vol:72 issue:2 pages:273-307
Summary: 'The signature of the body' (the role of the body in the formation of personal identity)
According to Kant, experience is always characterised by a duality: on the one hand, there is the subjective pole of experiences, and on the other hand, an objective world of which the experiences are experience of. In 1. I focus on the objective pole and go into the question (with Kant and Strawson) what someone assumes about the objective world when he or she has experience of it. In 2. I shift the attention towards the subjective pole: to see itself as distinct from objective reality, the subjective side has to be able to consider itself as a unity - called by Kant 'ich denke' or 'transcendental I'. Kant (defended by Strawson) sees this ich denke as the bodiless core of selfconsciousness (or experience). This seems irreconcilable though with the nowadays growing conviction that consciousness cannot be thought in a bodiless way: the body and its consciousness form one unity - called by Merleau-Ponty corps vécu. At the end of 3. though, I show that the corps vécu by itself cannot form the subjective unity that is needed for experience: a further step is required. But unlike Strawson and Kant, I defend that this second step has not to be considered as the transition of a bodiless, abstract ich denke towards an empirical, embodied consciousness, but as the crossing towards a different way of living the same embodiment. Together with the insights of 1., this will bring us to a model that can account as well for Strawson's sensitivity to the fact that our consciousness goes through a crucial turn, as well as for the concern that our body should not be seen as secondary and instrumental, distinct from a so-called purely mental consciousness.