Living Across and Through Skins: Transactional Bodies, Pragmatism, and Feminism

Living Across and Through Skins: Transactional Bodies, Pragmatism, and Feminism

by Shannon Sullivan
     
 

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Explores the dynamic relationship between bodies and the world around
them.

What if we lived across and through our skins as much as we
do within them? According to Shannon Sullivan, the notion of bodies in transaction
with their social, political, cultural, and physical surroundings is not new. Early
in the 20th century, John Dewey elaborated

Overview

Explores the dynamic relationship between bodies and the world around
them.

What if we lived across and through our skins as much as we
do within them? According to Shannon Sullivan, the notion of bodies in transaction
with their social, political, cultural, and physical surroundings is not new. Early
in the 20th century, John Dewey elaborated human existence as a set of patterns of
behavior or actions shaped by the environment. Underscoring the continued relevance
of his thought, Sullivan brings Dewey into conversation with Continental
philosophers -- Nietzsche and Merleau-Ponty -- and feminist philosophers -- Butler
and Harding -- to expand thinking about the body. Emphasizing topics such as the
role of habit, the discursivity of bodies, communication and meaning, personal and
cultural structures of gender, the improvement of bodily experience, and
understandings of truth and objectivity, Living Across and Through Skins
acknowledges the importance of the body's experience without placing it in
opposition to psychological, cultural, and social aspects of human life. By focusing
on what bodies do, rather than what they are, Sullivan prompts a closer look at
concrete, physical transactions that might be changed to improve human experiences
of the world.

Editorial Reviews

Choice

"This is an important book for those interested in seeing how traditional philosophy can contribute to contemporary feminist theory." —Choice

Choice - Western Illinois University Fernandez

Sullivan (Pennsylvania State Univ.) constructs a pragmatic feminist theory by weaving together seemingly disparate strains of philosophical thought, including central ideas of Merleau—Ponty, Judith Butler, Sandra Harding, Lucius Outlaw, and Nietzsche, with the work of John Dewey. What survives scrutiny imbues a Deweyean pragmatism that emphasizes a dynamic, reciprocal, transformative relationship between individual members of the environment and with the environment itself, denying traditionally accepted dichotomies such as mind/body, subject/object, and nature/experience. Two ideas ground Sullivan's theory. First, human corporeality, not an abstract metaphysic, is the basis of truth, moral agency, conceptions of self, and human flourishing. Second, the improvement of individual embodied existence and the improvement of the world are mutually dependent. At times, the idea of bodies is somewhat elusive; still, Sullivan is superb at making difficult ideas in feminism and Continental philosophy seem natural partners for pragmatism. This is an important book for those interested in seeing how traditional philosophy can contribute to contemporary feminist theory. It complements Susan Bordo's Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body (1993); Raia Prokhovnik's Rational Woman: A Feminist Critique of Dichotomy (CH, Jun'00); and Charlene Haddock Seigfried's Feminist Interpretations of John Dewey (2001). Upper—division undergraduates through faculty and researchers. —S. MartinellFernandez, Western Illinois University, Choice, December 2001

From the Publisher
Sullivan (Pennsylvania State Univ.) constructs a pragmatic feminist theory by weaving together seemingly disparate strains of philosophical thought, including central ideas of Merleau—Ponty, Judith Butler, Sandra Harding, Lucius Outlaw, and Nietzsche, with the work of John Dewey. What survives scrutiny imbues a Deweyean pragmatism that emphasizes a dynamic, reciprocal, transformative relationship between individual members of the environment and with the environment itself, denying traditionally accepted dichotomies such as mind/body, subject/object, and nature/experience. Two ideas ground Sullivan's theory. First, human corporeality, not an abstract metaphysic, is the basis of truth, moral agency, conceptions of self, and human flourishing. Second, the improvement of individual embodied existence and the improvement of the world are mutually dependent. At times, the idea of bodies is somewhat elusive; still, Sullivan is superb at making difficult ideas in feminism and Continental philosophy seem natural partners for pragmatism. This is an important book for those interested in seeing how traditional philosophy can contribute to contemporary feminist theory. It complements Susan Bordo's Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body (1993); Raia Prokhovnik's Rational Woman: A Feminist Critique of Dichotomy (CH, Jun'00); and Charlene Haddock Seigfried's Feminist Interpretations of John Dewey (2001). Upper—division undergraduates through faculty and researchers. —S. MartinellFernandez, Western Illinois University, Choice, December 2001

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780253109118
Publisher:
Indiana University Press
Publication date:
03/22/2001
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
File size:
335 KB

Meet the Author

Shannon Sullivan is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Women's Studies
at the Pennsylvania State University.

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