Volume 9, Issue 1, Winter 2019
Donata Schoeller, Sigridur Thorgeirsdottir
Embodied Critical Thinking
The Experiential Turn and Its Transformative Aspects
While the emphasis on embodiment and situatedness is strong in contemporary philosophy and cognitive sciences, its implications for the practice of critical thinking are just beginning to be taken seriously. The challenge is to think with the richness and the intricacy that come along with embodiment of situated knowers and on the basis of the experiential turn (based on phenomenological and pragmatic approaches). Even though the embodied and experiential dimension is operative and continuously present all the time in thought and action, it is hardly acknowledged, cared for, or made transparent in academic philosophical training. In doing philosophy we are actually rather trained to detach ourselves from the experiential basis of our thinking. In this paper we claim that by doing so we cut ourselves off from important sources of what it means to think for oneself. We argue that the more embodied context one dares to include in critical thinking, the more critique becomes personally and politically transformative. This has major methodological implications: one needs to learn “reading” embodied, felt experience as carefully and closely as the texts. The methods of Embodied Critical Thinking (ECT) presented here are based on the micro-phenomenological approach of Claire Petitmengin and the Thinking at the Edge method developed by Eugene Gendlin and Mary Hendricks.