The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 7, 2007

Philosophy of Culture(s)

Eva Kit Wah Man
Pages 173-177

A Contemporary Reflection of a Confucian Theory of the Body
"Natural" or Further Construction?

One of the common targets that contemporary feminists are critical of concerning the problem of the body is Rene Descartes' mind and body relation. Feminist scholars can identify at least three lines of investigation of the body in contemporary thought that may be regarded as legacies of the Cartesian view, which treat the body as primarily an object for: 1) the natural sciences, particularly for the life sciences, biology, and medicine; 2) as an instrument or a machine at the disposal of consciousness or allocating an animating, willful subjectivity; and 3) as a vehicle of expression of private thoughts and feelings; that is, as fundamentally passive and transparent. Recently, feminist scholars are seriously thinking of a new conceptual model that can displace Cartesian dualism and that can emancipate notions of the body from Cartesian dominant mechanistic models and metaphors. In this light, this paper turns to a Confucian theory of the body for revelation and the case of Mencius is introduced, in which the mind is regarded as the major component of the body and a coherent model is adopted. Can we then conclude to ask in what ways the reclaiming of the body in the Contemporary Western discussion may learn from the Confucian ideas of the body...?