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not) be age related. We can therefore better diagnose and remedy those
Body Consciousness

disease-induced ailments rather than assuming they are simply part of the
inevitable process of aging. Recognizing that the health of the elderly is
seriously threatened by their own neglect because of their tendency “to
confuse some curable disease with irreversible old age” (CA, 284), Beau-
voir however fails to recommend any effort of somaesthetic attention to
distinguish feelings of illness and injury from those of mere weakening
old age.
Why does she refuse this option of heightened knowledge and power
for the aged? Here again, just as for women, Beauvoir fears that somatic
self-consciousness encourages immanence while discouraging what she
regards as the key to life™s meaning and value “ transcendence through
projects. If focused attention to bodily feelings implies remaining within
the passive immanence of the ¬‚esh in contrast to the dynamically tran-
scendent “ego,” then meaningful projects in old age cannot include
increasing our somatic self-knowledge of aging in order to live our age
more effectively. “Projects,” she insists, “have to do only with our activities.
Undergoing age is not an activity. Growing, ripening, ageing, dying “ the
passing of time is predestined, inevitable” (CA, 540).
But cultivating somaesthetic acuity to know and monitor one™s aging
is no passive inevitability, but rather an active project of cognitive search-
ing and probing, as is the disciplined pursuit of aging wisely, skillfully,
and healthfully, even if, like other projects, it is vulnerable to failure.
To “give our existence a meaning” in old age, Beauvoir however insists,
“There is only one solution . . . “ devotion to individuals, to groups or to
causes, social, political, intellectual or creative work.” So we need “pas-
sions strong enough [to pursue such projects and] to prevent us turn-
ing in upon ourselves,” such inward turning being a sin of immanence,
of sti¬‚ing, isolated, withdrawal from the world (ibid). But again, since
somatic self-consciousness always involves an environmental ¬eld signi¬-
cantly larger than the self, the problem of autistic isolation lies not with
somaesthetic self-cultivation per se, but with failing to recognize how
much the self depends on and incorporates the environments that shape
it. Besides, as the very capacity to have “passions strong enough” for sig-
ni¬cant projects requires an adequate “biological condition” of energy or
strength (CA, 453), so old age becomes increasingly reliant on somatic
self-cultivation and self-care for sustaining such potency. Even if securing
personal somatic health is merely a means to far nobler ends beyond the
individual, it still remains, through its crucial instrumentality, a worth-
while project.
Somatic Subjectivities and Somatic Subjugation 111

Taking instrumentalities seriously because one values the ends they
serve is a key pragmatist principle. But before turning to the embodied
pragmatism of William James and John Dewey, we devote the next chapter
to the somatic theory of Ludwig Wittgenstein, whose enormously in¬‚u-
ential work in analytic philosophy of mind includes a fascinating inquiry
on the role of bodily feelings.

Wittgenstein™s Somaesthetics
Explanation and Melioration in Philosophy of Mind,
Art, and Politics

In his Vermischte Bemerkungen, in the course of a political discussion con-
cerning nationalism, antisemitism, power, and property, Ludwig Wittgen-
stein speaks of one™s having an “aesthetic feeling for one™s body
[aesthetische Gef¨ hl f¨ r seinen K¨rper].”1 This phrase naturally attracted my
uu o
attention because of my interest in somaesthetics as a discipline con-
cerned with the aesthetics of bodily feelings. But Wittgenstein™s phrase
particularly intrigued me because his philosophy is famous for refuting
the centrality of bodily feelings in explaining the key concepts of phi-
losophy for which those feelings are often invoked: concepts of action,
emotion, will, and aesthetic judgment. He thinks that philosophers invent
them as primitive explanations for the complexities of mental life. “When
we do philosophy, we should like to hypostatize feelings where there are
none. They serve to explain our thoughts to us. ˜Here explanation of our

1 See the bilingual edition of this work, translated by Peter Winch and entitled Culture
and Value (Oxford: Blackwell, 1980), 21, hereafter CV. I will occasionally provide my
own translation from the German when it seems clearer or more accurate. Some of the
book™s problematic translations have been corrected in a later revised edition published
by Blackwell in 1998, but I prefer to cite from the earlier, more familiar edition that
is less encumbered with scholarly notations. The second edition, when referred to, will
be designated as RCV. Other Wittgenstein texts frequently cited in this chapter refer to
the following works and editions: Philosophical Investigations, trans. G. E. M. Anscombe
(Oxford: Blackwell, 1968), hereafter PI (this famous work is divided into two parts; ref-
erences to the ¬rst part are to numbered sections, while the second part is referred to
by page number, preceded by “p.”); Zettel, trans. G. E. M. Anscombe (Oxford: Blackwell,
1967), references are to fragment number; Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychol-
ogy, and Religious Belief (Oxford: Blackwell, 1970), hereafter LA; Denkebewegung: Tageb¨ cher,
1930“1932, 1936“1937 (Innsbruck: Haymon, 1997), hereafter TB.

Wittgenstein™s Somaesthetics 113

thinking demands a feeling!™ It is as if our conviction were simply conse-
quent upon this requirement” (PI, 598).
In contrast to traditional theories that have used feelings or sensa-
tions (whether corporeal or allegedly more purely mental) to explain
the causes and meanings of our psychological and aesthetic concepts,
Wittgenstein argues that such complex concepts are better understood
in terms of their use. They are grounded and expressed in the sedimented
social practices or consensual forms of life of a community of language-
users. “Practice gives the words their sense,” (CV, 85) and such practice
involves “agreement . . . in form of life” (PI, 241).
Because Wittgenstein provides powerful arguments for rejecting the-
ories of sensationalism and psychologism with respect to mental con-
cepts and aesthetic judgment, there is a tendency or a temptation to
conclude that he thought bodily sensations were cognitively insigni¬cant
and unworthy of philosophical attention. This chapter makes a case for
resisting this temptation. Despite his devastating critiques of sensational-
ism, Wittgenstein recognizes the role of somaesthetic feelings in ¬elds as
varied as philosophy of mind, aesthetics, ethics, and politics. That such
feelings cannot provide an adequate conceptual analysis of our concepts
does not entail that they lack other cognitive value and are therefore
irrelevant for philosophy. We may be tempted to make this inference if
we equate philosophy narrowly with conceptual analysis. However, like
Wittgenstein, I think otherwise. Philosophy has a much wider meaning;
it concerns what Wittgenstein called “the problem of life” and the self-
critical task of improving the self: “Working in philosophy “ like work
in architecture in many respects “ is really more a working on oneself ”
(CV, 4, 16).2
If philosophy involves the tasks of self-improvement and of self-
knowledge (which seems necessary for self-improvement), then we
should ¬nd an important role for somaesthetic perceptions, explicitly
conscious bodily feelings. While examining the various ways Wittgenstein
recognizes the positive role of such feelings, this chapter goes beyond
Wittgenstein to advocate how these feelings should be more widely and
powerfully employed. To understand these positive uses properly, we
need to distinguish them from Wittgenstein™s sharp critique of the use

2 Formy account of philosophy as a way of life and of how Wittgenstein so conceived
and practiced it, see Practicing Philosophy: Pragmatism and the Philosophical Life (New York:
Routledge, 1997), ch. 1.
Body Consciousness

of somatic feelings for explaining central concepts of aesthetics, politics,
and philosophy of mind. First, however, it may be necessary to explain how
key concepts and issues in these different philosophical disciplines are
in fact closely related. Modernity™s logic of professionalization and spe-
cialization tends to compartmentalize aesthetics, politics, and philosophy
of mind and thus obscure their fundamental connection in philosophy™s
pursuit of better thinking and living, a connection that was powerfully
af¬rmed and cultivated in ancient times.
To appreciate how strongly philosophy once tied aesthetics and phi-
losophy of mind to political theory, we need only recall the paradigm
text that largely established political philosophy and still helps de¬ne it
today “ Plato™s dialogue, the Republic or Politeia, one of the most widely
read of philosophical texts and one which in late antiquity bore the sub-
title “On Justice.” In this seminal work, Socrates argues that justice is
essentially a virtue, that is, a special psychological achievement and dis-
position rather than a mere external social contract (as his interlocutors
argue against him in the dialogue). A good part of the Republic is therefore
devoted to philosophy of mind, analyzing the soul™s basic faculties, needs,
and desires in order to see whether the psychological underpinnings of
Socrates™ political theory or those of his rivals are more correct. Argu-
ing that justice as a mental virtue is essentially the ruling of the proper
order in the human soul, Socrates projects that view of the right ruling
order onto the public order of the state. A state is just when it is ruled
by the proper order of its different kinds of citizens, each group doing
what it can do best for the better bene¬t of the whole community, the
philosophers being charged with the highest role of governing guidance,
teaching the ruling group of guardians.
But to secure the proper education of the guardians and ensure more
generally the proper order of mind that constitutes the virtue of justice
in the individual, Socrates insists that we must address aesthetic issues.
Not only our intellects but our feelings and desires must be educated to
recognize and appreciate the right order, so that we will desire and love
it. The harmonies of beauty are therefore advocated as crucially instru-
mental in such education. Conversely, Plato™s notorious condemnation
of art is similarly motivated by his moral psychology and political theory.
Art is dangerous politically, he argues, not only because it purveys imi-
tative falsehoods, but because it appeals to the baser parts of the soul
and overstimulates those unruly emotions that disturb right order in the
mind of the individual and the polis in general.
Wittgenstein™s Somaesthetics 115

This integral connection of aesthetics, politics, and philosophy of mind
is reaf¬rmed by Friedrich Schiller, who argues that art is the necessary
key to improving both mental and political order. In his On the Aesthetic
Education of Man, written after the French revolution had turned into the
Reign of Terror, Schiller posed the dilemma that a just society requires
“the ennobling of character” to create more virtuous people, yet how can
we ennoble character without already relying on a just political society
to educate people toward virtue? Schiller™s famous answer is “aesthetic
education”; the “instrument is Fine Art,” whose exemplars of beauty and
perfection inspire and elevate our characters. Art™s educational value for
virtue and justice is again explained in terms of human psychology. If
man™s mind is torn between an earthy, sensual, material drive (Stofftrieb)
and an intellectual, transcendental formal drive (Formtrieb), then art™s
expression of a mediating play drive (Spieltrieb) provides a crucial recon-
ciling force, since in this drive “both the others work in concert.” “Taste
alone brings harmony into society, because it fosters harmony in the
individual . . . only the aesthetic mode of communication unites society,
because it relates to that which is common to all.”3
The same nexus of moral psychology, aesthetics, and politics could
also be shown in later thinkers like Dewey and Adorno. It, moreover,
forms the core of the Chinese philosophical tradition.4 But I trust that
the linkage between these disciplines is now suf¬ciently clear to warrant
examining how bodily feelings play a signi¬cant role in Wittgenstein™s
thought, extending from philosophy of mind and aesthetics to his ethical
and political theory. Since Wittgenstein repudiates the view that bodily
feelings can explain the meaning of our central mental and aesthetic
concepts, let us begin with his critique of this view before considering the
positive roles he allows for bodily feelings.

3 Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man, trans. E. M. Wilkinson and L. A.
Willoughby (Oxford: Clarendon, 1982), 55“57, 79“81, 97, 215.
4 This is especially evident, for example, in the ideas of attractive, harmonizing order

in Confucius and Xunzi. See The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation, trans.
R. T. Ames and Henry Rosemont Jr. (New York: Ballantine, 1998); and Xunzi™s “Discourse
on Ritual Principles” and “Discourse on Music” in Xunzi: A Translation and Study of the
Complete Works, trans. John Knoblock, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), vol. 3,
where we read that “music is the most perfect method of bringing order to men” (84). I
explore how somaesthetics relates to the East-Asian nexus of aesthetics, moral psychology,
and politics in “Pragmatism and East-Asian Thought,” in The Range of Pragmatism and the
Limits of Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004), 13“42.
Body Consciousness

In critiquing the use of somatic feelings for explaining crucial mental
concepts like emotion and will, Wittgenstein takes the pragmatist philoso-
pher William James as his prime target. James in¬‚uenced Wittgenstein
more than any of the other classical pragmatists did, and we know that
Wittgenstein greatly appreciated James™s thought on religious issues.5 But
here Wittgenstein uses the somatic sensationalism of James™s psychology
as a critical foil to develop his own theories. James is famous for his cor-
poreal explanation of emotion: Not only are “the general causes of the
emotions . . . indubitably physiological,” but the emotions themselves are
identi¬ed with the feelings we have of these physiological excitations.
When we perceive something exciting, “bodily changes follow directly the per-
ception of the exciting fact, and . . . our feeling of the same changes as they occur IS
the emotion; . . . we feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid
because we tremble, and not that we cry, strike, or tremble, because we
are sorry, angry, or fearful, as the case may be. Without the bodily states
following on the perception, the latter would be purely cognitive in form,
pale, colorless, destitute of emotional warmth.”6
If James one-sidedly equates emotions with bodily sensations,7 then
Wittgenstein™s response is emphatically to reject this identi¬cation by
insisting that emotions “are not sensations” of the body, since they are
neither localized nor diffuse, and always have an object (which is different
than a bodily cause). Emotions are “in the mind,” “expressed in thoughts,”
and experienced and aroused by thought, “not body pain.” In contrast
to James, Wittgenstein “should almost like to say: One no more feels
sorrow in one™s body than one feels seeing in one™s eyes” (Zettel, 495).
My fear of the dark may sometimes manifest itself in my consciousness
of shallowness in my breathing and of a clenching of the jaw and face
muscles, but sometimes it may not be so manifested. Even if such bodily
feeling is always present, this does not mean that it is the cause of my fear,
nor its object. I am not afraid of shallow breathing or of these muscle
contractions, but instead of the dark. “If fear is frightful and if while it

5 See Ludwig Wittgenstein: Cambridge Letters, ed. B. McGuinness and G. H. von Wright
(Blackwell: Oxford, 1996), 14, 140.
6 William James, Principles of Psychology (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983),

1065“1066, hereafter PP.
7 A full and sympathetic reading of James™s different formulations of his theory would

deny that he simply identi¬es emotions entirely with bodily feelings or sensations. See
the more detailed account of his theory in Chapter 5.
Wittgenstein™s Somaesthetics 117


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