Nietzsche was one of the first western philosophers to reclaim the body from derogation and objectification (Abram 1996:94). He describes a unity he calls the Self, that is the body. Since Nietzsche uses the words Self and body synonymously, for the space of this paragraph let us combine Self and body into the word Body. For Nietzsche the Body is “a great intelligence”. Within this Body is a multiplicity: the spirit, sense, and the Ego, which are created by the Body.

These things, these tools: sense which feels, spirit which perceives, and Ego which adapts to the world, are also creative. They are creative in their tasks, helping the Body to make a world for the Body to live in. In this way the Body creates beyond itself, which Nietzsche states is its sole aim, outside of which any closing off of the body is a desire for death (2003:61). While this poetic description of the body as unity is by no means comprehensive (Langer, 1989:151), it places the body in creative relationship with the world and establishes a framework that is taken up by others.

The beginnings of an intersubjective world can be found in Nietzsche’s discussion of body and soul. He says, “I am body entirely and nothing beside; and soul is only a word for something in the body”(2003:61), but also “every soul is a world of its own, for every soul every other soul is an afterworld” that refreshes us in our interaction (ibid: 234).

Though Nietzsche uses the term soul as a separateness, Pictet (2000) points out that he goes on to say that it is through language that individual souls are bridged (73-74). Even though Nietzsche claims there is no “outside-of-me”, the music of language makes him forget this (Nietzsche 2003:234), suggesting a permeable boundary and an ambiguous field of intersubjectivity which Marcel and Merleau-Ponty explore.

For Gabriel Marcel, the feeling body has priority over the world and how it is constituted. (1949:10) This subjective body begins with itself and its feelings, however confused these feelings may be (1952: 243), so that the body’s feelings or embodiment precedes consideration the world. He describes the body as a psychic unity, “with an apprehension that cannot be compared to a mode of perception” (ibid:188); that it binds and separates from those things which it also is, for example, the mind or space (ibid:132) and having “priority over other kinds of perception . . . shap[ing] my participation in the world” (Mui, 1999:51).

This subjective body is then, at first, outside of relationship and yet in the world. Marcel is here attempting to work out what sounds to be a half step away from Husserl’s transcendental ego, which constitutes the world, and towards Merleau Ponty ideas on full intersubjectivity.

tbc …

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