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Body and Embodiment


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Philosophical Anthropology and Philosophy of Culture

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Humanities

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Natural Sciences

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Psychology


The course investigates the ways in which the fact of human embodiment affect all other philosophical concerns, including ontological, political, ethical and epistemological issues. It takes its starting point in the well-known neglect of the body by philosophers from Plato to Descartes in order to bring out a more minor but constant tradition that upholds the importance of the fact of embodiment. It then focuses on the several dimensions of the body as investigated by post-Kantian philosophy in the last two centuries through a discussion of the intentional body (Nietzsche, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty), embodied cognition (Noe, Gallagher) and the politicization of the body (Marx, Foucault) and how they interact with a persistent Cartesian tradition in neurophilosophy in particular

Course objectives

This course aims to provide the students with a detailed view of:

  • the history of the concept of body in Western philosophy;

  • the current state of the debate around embodiment;

  • the implications of the fact of embodiment for epistemology, political philosophy and ontology.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the history of the debates surrounding embodiment (including the mind-body problem, the debates around the metaphysics of the body as material, spiritual, objective, organic, structural or intentional);

  • the metaphysical importance of embodiment;

  • the relations between the philosophical and scientific views of the body.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • critically understand, comment and interconnect specialized texts and theories relative to embodiment;

  • critically engage with some of the latest literature on embodiment;

  • present a consistent and comprehensive view of the current problems of the field and explore possible avenues of research.


The timetable is available on the MA Philosophy 60 EC website and the MA Philosophy 120 EC website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Attending seminars: 14 x 3 hours = 42 hours

  • Literature: 80 hours

  • Preparation for seminars: 40 hours

  • Assignment: 44 hours

  • Presentation: 20 hours

  • Preparation assignments: 54 hours

Assessment method


  • Oral presentation and abstract (30%)

  • Take-home paper on a question agreed in advance based on abstract submitted (65%)

  • Final paper abstract (5%)


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests (presentation, paper). A subtest can be graded as unsatisfactory.
Class preparation and attendance are required and are conditions for submission of the paper.


The resit will be a thoroughly demanding survey take-home exam covering the entirety of the course materials, and including a text commentary, a series of short questions and an argumentative essay. There may be an added short oral examination. The mark will replace all previously earned marks. No separate resits will be offered for subtests.

Students will only be eligible for resits if they have submitted/presented all other assessments in the term. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination(s) cannot take the resit.

Exam review

Discussion of the paper is by appointment after publication of the final grade.


Blackboard will be used for posting texts, general information documents (syllabus etc), assignments and updates.

Reading list

In addition to the books listed below, several extracts of which we shall use, a reading schedule (including shorter texts) and syllabus will be made available on Blackboard.

  • Plato, Phaedo.

  • Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, Trans. Cottingham, Cambridge UP, 1996.

  • Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception, Trans. Landes, Routledge 2012.

  • Sean Gallagher, How the Body Shapes the Mind, Oxford UP, 2005.

  • Alva Noe, Action in Perception, MIT Press, 2004.


Enrolment for courses and exams through uSis is mandatory.

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. F. Chouraqui