2011 Student Research Conference:
24th Annual Student Research Conference

Knowledge in the Flesh: William James and the Importance of Bodies
Stephanie B. Hulsey
Dr. Natalie Alexander, Faculty Mentor

William James, philosopher, psychologist, and pragmatist, was a "body" theorist. He opposed a dualistic notion of mind and body that held that 1) the mind is thinking and immaterial, while the body is material and non-thinking, and 2) the mind is the preferred route to knowledge, while the body is a mere mechanism that too often gets in the way of the minds strivings. Instead, he placed emphasis on the body in not only our thought, but our pursuit of knowledge. James believed that human knowledge must begin and end in the senses (and thus the body) for us to deem it true. With this standpoint, James argued that human experiences are the root of knowledge, a conception at the very root of his pragmatism. Thus, James's theories emphasize bodies and their role in our thought, endowing them with the ability to guide us to higher knowledge, understanding, and thought.

Keywords: William James, pragmatism, body, embodiment, philosophy, dualism, knowledge, epistemology

Topic(s):Philosophy & Religion

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 44-4
Location: MG 2090
Time: 3:30

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