Environmental Philosophy

Volume 9, Issue 2, Fall 2012

Drew Leder
Pages 123-141

Embodying Otherness
Shape-Shifting and the Natural World

This paper explores the ability and desire of the embodied self to “shape-shift”—to experience from within the capacities of animals, or natural phenomena like trees and mountains. Shape-shifting is discussed insofar as it manifests in a broad range of cultural domains, including children’s play, mythico-religious iconography, spiritual practice, sports, the performing arts, and so on. This potential for shape-shifting is grounded not simply in our evolutionary history and biological kinships, but in the phenomenology of the lived-body. Our own powers are explored, expanded, and transformed through our communion with the non-human world.